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Rubio & Bipartisan Group Introduce Anti-Opioid Bill to Sanction Chinese-Origin Fentanyl
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today joined Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to introduce the first-of-a-kind Fentanyl Sanctions Act to 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.”
“China is the world’s largest drug dealer. For years, the Chinese government has allowed fentanyl and other synthetic opioids to pour into the United States, killing tens of thousands of Americans. Although China has fulfilled a promise to the president by formally banning all forms of fentanyl, we have to make sure they keep their word. Our bipartisan bill will give law enforcement and intelligence agencies the tools they need to apply maximum pressure to fentanyl producers, traffickers, cartels, and other criminals who are funneling this poison across our borders and into our communities,” Cotton said.
“On average, 11 Ohioans will die every day in my state due to an opioid overdose,” Brown said. “The addiction epidemic has taken too many lives and caused too much devastation in Ohio. This new bill will add effective new sanctions tools to help combat the flood of illicit fentanyl coming in primarily from China and from Mexico, and help provide intelligence and funding to keep these dangerous drugs out of Ohio communities.”
“Fentanyl is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans, and untold numbers of ruined lives, addicts, and wrecked families and communities. Along with other opioids, fentanyl killed nearly 2,800 people in New Jersey in 2017. It is critical that we bring an end to this scourge – most of which flows into this country from China – and do so with tough and consistent enforcement and a genuine whole-of-government effort. The legislation we are introducing today is a significant step forward to bring to an end the production and shipping of fentanyl into the United States,” Menendez said.
“Illicit fentanyl has inflicted severe suffering on Pennsylvania families and communities. I am committed to holding those responsible for exporting this poison to our country. Congressional attention coupled with pressure from the Trump administration recently led to China finally subjecting all fentanyl-like chemicals to its drug laws. This bipartisan measure provides Congress with another tool to fight the heroin and fentanyl epidemic,” Toomey said.
“The introduction of fentanyl into New Hampshire’s illicit drug supply was akin to pouring gasoline on an already raging crisis,” Shaheen said. “Fentanyl continues to take loved ones struggling with substance use disorders from every community in New Hampshire. We know where fentanyl is coming from and there needs to be more done at the federal level to stop it. This legislation cracks down on fentanyl manufacturers and their financial sponsors by inflicting painful sanctions, and ramps up support for federal enforcement efforts. Bipartisan cooperation continues to be absolutely necessary to tackling this crisis and this legislation is an important next step for Congress to take.”
Specifically, the legislation would:
- Require imposition of sanctions on 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.
- Authorize new funding to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the Departments of Treasury, Department of Defense and Department of State, to combat the foreign trafficking of opioids.
- Urges the President to commence diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions against foreign opioid traffickers.
- Establish a 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.
Following a commitment to the U.S. at the G-20 in December 2018, Chinese regulators announced on April 1, 2019, that a wider range of fentanyl derivatives would be declared controlled substances in China on May 1, 2019. China already has problems enforcing its current drug laws and continues to deny that its illicit fentanyl producers are a major source of illicit opioids contributing to the U.S. opioid crisis. To ensure accountability, the Fentanyl Sanctions Act sanctions legislation would pressure the Chinese government to move forward with an aggressive plan to enforce its announced new laws and provide the U.S. executive branch with flexible new sanctions tools to go after fentanyl manufacturers, transnational traffickers and other complicit actors in China and other countries.