On Wednesday, a group of bipartisan senators introduced a new bill aimed at combating the crisis caused by opioid trafficking in America. The Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Act would empower the federal government to impose financial and banking sanctions on those found guilty of trafficking fentanyl or knowingly supplying its constituent products. It would also give the president the power to take over the assets of traffickers and use them to further law enforcement efforts. This bold and important move is a necessary step in the fight against the opioid epidemic that is devastating the nation.
— Chris 🇺🇸 (@Chris_1791) April 26, 2023
The bill has been introduced by Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the Committee’s Ranking Member who has ambitions to run for President in 2024. The bill’s introduction was accompanied by statements from top Senators of the Senate Armed Services Committee. However, the national defense component of the bill remains unclear.
Heartbreaking: Mother who lost 2 of her sons to fentanyl leaves entire chamber of Congress in tears— Joe Biden NEEDS to watch this.
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) March 1, 2023
Fentanyl is the leading cause of overdose deaths in America, and the nation’s politicians and healthcare experts consider its synthetic opioid use a crisis. NIH data shows that in 2021, 80,411 people died of an opioid overdose, on average increasing every year since 1999. The majority of the “precursor chemicals” used to manufacture opioids are manufactured in China and then exported to Latin America, where cartels manufacture drugs before smuggling them across the southern border. Other countries involved in the supply chain include India, which produces fentanyl powder in collaboration with Mexican cartels, and Canada, where drugs are trafficked into the northern US.
The new bill singles out China as the main source of these chemicals, both through legitimate and illegitimate channels. It imposes international bans on these chemicals and sets an eight-year statute of limitations for those who violate sanctions. In the past, the US has attempted and failed to impose these bans with international cooperation, especially from China.
Unfortunately, much of the bill’s provisions are already enforced by executive orders. It codifies an existing Executive Order giving the President broad authority to attack fentanyl trafficking. These orders remain insufficient to deal with the scale of the opioid crisis facing the US today, and so the FEND Act is a crucial addition in the effort to curb opioid trafficking.
In conclusion, opioid trafficking is a national epidemic gripping the US, and more needs to be done to eradicate this terrible problem. The FEND Act is a bipartisan, robust, and meaningful step towards achieving the goal of preventing opioids from making their way into the hands of vulnerable Americans. It is just a start, but every step counts.