Slotkin urges passage of bill to fight fentanyl supply chains and traffickers - TAI News
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Drug overdose deaths have risen sharply in the United States in recent years, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, with fentanyl and other synthetic opioids responsible for about two-thirds of those cases. A bipartisan bill, with co-sponsors including Michigan Democratic U.S. Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin, and Republican Rep. John James, would target the supply chains for those lethal drugs.

The bill, the Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act, is designed to keep fentanyl and other illicit opioid drugs out of the country, and it was approved by the U.S. Senate on Feb. 13 as part of a broader emergency spending bill. The White House has endorsed that package, but House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is refusing to allow a vote on it in his chamber.

“Another bipartisan priority at risk due to the refusal to consider the most recent border compromise,” Slotkin tweeted on Feb. 7. “The Fend-Off Fentanyl Act, of which I am a cosponsor, would take major steps to crack down on the spread of fentanyl in our communities in MI and across the country.”

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, 3,084 Michiganders died from drug overdoses in 2021. Of those, 2,277 were related to synthetic opioids including fentanyl.

Of the roughly 106,000 American deaths from drug overdoses in 2021, more than 70,000 (about 66%) involved fentanyl or other non-methadone synthetic opioids.

The bill’s provisions would officially designate international fentanyl trafficking a national emergency, require the federal government to impose economic sanctions against drug cartels and criminal organizations involved in trafficking, and authorize the Treasury Department to crack down on fentanyl-related money launderers.

“As the fentanyl epidemic continues to impact our communities, we must take decisive action to get this dangerous drug off our streets,” Peters told the Michigan Independent in an email. “That’s why I support efforts to provide the federal government with tools to target the illicit fentanyl supply chain and penalize drug traffickers. As the Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I’ve also advanced bipartisan bills to give the Department of Homeland Security additional tools to help stem the flow of illicit drugs like fentanyl into our communities.” 

“The Senate did the right thing today by passing this consequential legislation to protect our national security and democracy around the world. Republicans finally stepped up and joined Democrats to get this done,” Stabenow said in a Feb. 13 statement. “Now, we look to the House to stand up to Vladimir Putin and Hamas, deliver critical humanitarian aid to innocent civilians in Gaza, and protect Americans from dangerous drugs crossing our borders.”

The FEND Off Fentanyl Act, introduced by Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, has been endorsed by several groups representing first responders and law enforcement officers. Peters and Stabenow are two of 68 Senate co-sponsors; Slotkin and James are among 18 co-sponsors in the House. 

At a January hearing of the Senate Banking Committee, Scott blamed the GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives for not getting the bill to Biden’s desk in 2023: “And unfortunately, we’re here today having another hearing on FEND Off Fentanyl because our friends on the other side of the Capitol, because of the shenanigans at the end of last year, did not get the bill included in legislation that would have made this, I believe, law already. It is incredibly unfortunate that playing politics is still a game played in Washington, especially on something so important. … it’s not just frustrating to those of us on this committee, those of us in Congress, it is incredibly frustrating to the people of our country who watch the devastation eat away at their communities.”

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