A proposal from two Florida Republicans to crack down on fentanyl being brought in to the U.S. from China, Mexico and other nations was included in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which cleared the U.S. House last week.
Back in April, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., joined other senators–including Arkansas Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton and New York Democrat U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer–to bring out the “Fentanyl Sanctions Act” which, they insisted, will “provide the U.S. government with tools and resources to punish illicit fentanyl traffickers in China, Mexico, and other countries, and to hold accountable the Chinese government and other nations who fail to stop these trafficking networks.”
“The flow of illicit fentanyl largely from China into the U.S. poses serious threats to our families, public health, economic vitality, and national security,” Rubio said. “With Florida suffering thousands of opioid-related deaths per year, we must do all we can to stop the opioid crisis sweeping across America and devastating our communities. This bipartisan effort to impose targeted sanctions on foreign illicit fentanyl manufacturers and traffickers makes clear that the U.S. will hold the Communist Chinese Government and other nations fully accountable when they turn a blind eye to international fentanyl trafficking.”
“Combating the flow of illicit fentanyl into our country is imperative in the fight to save American lives from the opioid crisis. We must hold China accountable for their role in the fentanyl trade. China’s new law to make all fentanyl categories illegal is an important step and the administration deserves praise for their efforts to secure this change. However, we have to demonstrate that we will demand China enforce these laws and take strong action against opioid traffickers,” Schumer said. “Our legislation would apply pressure on China to actually follow through and would equip the administration with tools to systematically go after the major manufacturers and traffickers of fentanyl before the killer drug gets to the U.S.”
The bill would hit Chinese drug manufacturers in China “who knowingly provide synthetic opioids to traffickers, transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S. and financial institutions that assist such entities” with sanctions. The proposal would also fund various federal agencies to crack down on international opioid trafficking and create the Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to “monitor U.S. efforts and report on how to more effectively combat the flow of synthetic opioids from China, Mexico and elsewhere.”
Towards the end of April, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla,, paired up with U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., to bring out the House version of the bill.
“Fentanyl and other opioids have ravaged Florida communities and torn apart many families and lives,” Buchanan said. “While I welcome China’s announcement that it will ban all forms of fentanyl, we must ensure that their words are followed through with meaningful action. I urge my colleagues to immediately approve this bipartisan bill to deliver another resource that could help combat the flow of opioids across our borders.”
“Fentanyl has become the leading illegal drug in the opioid crisis in our country, and it’s time we attack the source. While China’s ban on producing fentanyl is a promising start, Congress should hold China to its word. This bill will target the fentanyl producers worldwide who profit from the overdose deaths happening in communities across our country, including Massachusetts where fentanyl is the leading cause of opioid-overdose deaths. Congress must act quickly,” Moulton said.
The core of the bill was rolled into the NDAA with much of the language in the legislation included in the final version.
“For too long, fentanyl and other opioids have continued to wreak havoc on communities in Florida and across the country,” Buchanan said after the NDAA cleared Congress. “We need to hold Beijing accountable for any lack of progress controlling the fentanyl freely flowing out of their country.”
Last month, pointing to numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which showed “drug deaths nationwide involving fentanyl or other synthetic opioids skyrocketed by more than 1000 percent in the past six years,” Buchanan urged the chairs of the U.S. House and Senate Armed Services Committees to include his bill in the final version of the NDAA.
“This is a frightening development considering that just a few years ago the number of overdoses was declining,” Buchanan said.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.