Bipartisan lawmakers in the House and Senate are planning to introduce a new bill seeking to designate fentanyl as a significant national security concern, with the proposed legislation granting the Pentagon the power to implement fresh measures specifically aimed at combatting Mexican drug cartels.
Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) confirmed to the Washington Examiner on Tuesday their forthcoming bill that will use their oversight authority within the Department of Defense to compel the federal government to take more robust actions against Mexican transnational criminal organizations trafficking fentanyl across the southern border.
Under the proposed legislation, named Disrupt Fentanyl Trafficking Act, the Pentagon would be required to formulate a targeted strategy aimed at combating the trafficking of fentanyl. This strategy would involve establishing direct collaboration with the Mexican military and enhancing security operations in conjunction with Mexico.
“The amount of lives lost in Iowa and across the country due to this deadly drug has far surpassed the federal government’s response, and we must scale immediately to combat this national security threat,” Ernst told the Examiner. “This bipartisan work will engage Mexico as an active partner to counter fentanyl trafficking and put the Pentagon’s tools to use to save American lives.”
“If we want to prevent future tragedies, the United States must work with Mexico to counter fentanyl trafficking across our southern border,” added Kaine. “This bipartisan, commonsense bill would help us create the strongest strategy for how to do that.”
Ernst and Kaine were supported by Reps. Stephanie Bice (R-OK) and Salud Carbajal (D-CA), who will sponsor the bill in the House. The majority of fentanyl entering the United States comes from Mexico, while the precursor ingredients necessary for producing this potent drug originate in China and are subsequently transported to Mexican manufacturers.
Senators Ernst and Kaine emphasized the importance of engaging the Mexican government as an equal collaborator in the fight against fentanyl, as the southern neighbor has struggled to effectively address the issue over the past five years.
The prevalence of fentanyl is widely considered to be one of America’s most serious social issues, with the country reporting a 15 percent increase in deaths from 2021 to 2022 alone. Congressional testimony provided earlier this year detailed how the quantity of the drug seized by authorities over a three-month period was sufficient to kill the U.S. population five times over.
In 2021, the DEA seized over 50 million fentanyl pills and more than 10,000 pounds of the drug in powdered form, enough to kill every single American. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), synthetic opiate was responsible for approximately 70,000 deaths per month across 2022.
“Fentanyl is a weapon that is coming across our borders that’s killing young people at a record level,’ said Rep. Gary Palmer R-AL at the earing. “The drug overdose death rate for people under age 24 is at an all-time high, especially among the African American community. I have a real hard time understanding why we continue to operate the way that we operate.”
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