Rep. Hill discusses drug overdose reversal bill, Jan. 6 hearings, inflation
U.S Rep. French Hill of Arkansas’ 2nd congressional district sponsored legislation in the House that aims to provide easier access to a drug which reverses opioid overdose. It was passed on Wednesday and now goes to the Senate where he's optimistic about its passage.
In an interview with KUAR News, Hill, R-Little Rock, also spoke about the Jan. 6th congressional hearings, proposals to suspend gas taxes and inflation.
The Preventing Overdoses and Saving Lives Act 2.0 would allow doctors to prescribe naloxone alongside opioids to patients with pain or after surgery.
“With the right kind of planning and execution, it’ll improve education for doctors. It’ll help families that have to use an opioid either for post surgery or chronic pain,” Hill said.
14 states currently allow this type of prescription, he said, and the federal legislation is based on a state law currently in place in Arkansas. In 2021, 550 lives were saved in the state due to naloxone prescriptions, he added.
"Congressman French Hill's bill encouraging the practice of co-prescribing opioid reversal drugs and increasing access to overdose reversal drugs will go a long way to saving lives," Arkansas state Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, one of the lead sponsors of Arkansas's co-prescribing law, said in a press release.
Hill said after passing the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support, he feels good about its chance of passage in the Senate.
January 6 hearings
After four hearings by the January 6 Committee, Hill suggested House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has used the hearings as a political exercise.
“It’s not fully bipartisan, it doesn’t follow the House rules. In fact, it broke over 200 years of precedent of House tradition by having the speaker appointing all the members of the committee,” Hill said.
Last year, Hill voted for a bipartisan commission to investigate the riots that took place on Jan. 6, according to the congressman’s website. The bipartisan commission passed in the House, but failed in the Senate. That led to the creation of the House committee which is currently investigating the insurrection.
In addition to the seven Democrats on the committee, there are two Republicans, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, and Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois. When asked about how Cheney, who campaigned for Hill in 2020, is handling the hearings, Hill didn’t give a direct answer.
“Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger are both Republicans, but they were appointed by Speaker Pelosi. She turned down the proposed members that had been proposed by the Republican leader,” Hill said.
According to NPR News, three of the nominees by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, voted against certifying the 2020 election results. McCarthy has been called by the committee to testify, but has neglected his subpoena. Hill said he doesn’t have any concerns about McCarthy avoiding the committee.
“I think Kevin McCarthy is fully in his rights there as is any American to decide whether they want to submit to an interview, a subpoena or records in that instance,” Hill said.
Federal gas tax
According to the White House, President Joe Biden is calling for a three month suspension of the federal gas tax, which is 18.4 cents per gallon, as the cost of oil continues to rise. In order to suspend the tax, Biden will need congressional approval.
Hill said suspending the gas tax isn’t the right approach to rising prices.
“If you look at it from an economic point of view it would spur demand into a market where we are already short [of supply],” Hill said. “In my view, it would have a perverse incentive to actually increase prices.”
Hill said the Federal Reserve is on the right track after raising interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point.
“This is tough work. I believe the Fed waited so long and the Biden administration spent so much money beyond the need for fighting the pandemic that we’re in a really tough spot,” Hill said.
Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, testified in front of the House on Thursday. After listening to his testimony, Hill said Powell acknowledged the mistakes made by the Federal Reserve.
“He is explaining he was behind, he’s explaining that his economists were wrong in that inflation was transitory and now he’s taking steps in the right direction of fighting inflation,” Hill said.
Hill, former founder, chairman, and CEO of Delta Trust & Banking Corp, said consumers can expect mortgage rates to increase as a result of the interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.