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Bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act, Included In Senate National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) For Fiscal Year 2020, Directs Administration To Identify & Sanction Foreign Traffickers Of Synthetic Opioids; Authorizes New Funding For Law Enforcement & Intel Agencies; Pressures China, Mexico, And Other Synthetic Opioid-Trafficking Countries To Crack Down On Traffickers

China Is The World’s Largest Producer Of Illicit, Deadly Fentanyl, Which Floods Into America and Causes Overdose Deaths; New Legislation Would Pressure China To Implement An Aggressive Plan And Help U.S. Go After Illicit Traffickers 

Schumer: China Must Be Held Accountable For Its Commitment To Regulate Deadly Fentanyl

To confront the frustrating inaction by China’s government on the trafficking of illicit fentanyl to the United States, where it is killing tens-of-thousands—many from Upstate New York—U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his push, the passage of the bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act, part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, which passed the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 86-8.

The senator’s bill would hold China and other countries accountable for their commitments to crack down on producers and traffickers of fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids, pushing China’s government to honor its commitment to enforce new laws declaring all fentanyl derivatives illegal. Additionally, the legislation would provide the U.S. government with more tools and resources to sanction illicit traffickers from China, Mexico, and other countries—a critical effort, in light of the steep rise in devastating fentanyl overdose deaths. Schumer explained that U.S. Representative Anthony Brindisi (D-22) is leading the charge to pass the Fentanyl Sanctions Act in the House of Representative’s version of the NDAA.

“We must hold China, currently the world’s largest producer of illicit fentanyl, accountable for its role in the trade of this deadly drug. Our Senate-passed, bipartisan sanctions bill will do just that,” said Senator Schumer. “The opioid crisis has claimed tens of thousands of lives and devastated families and communities across the country. In New York State, from November 2017 to 2018, approximately 2,000 people died from an opioid overdose. About 1,500 of those deaths were from synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Our legislation is critical in this fight to shut down the lethal fentanyl mills in China and elsewhere and to save American lives, and I hope to announce soon that this bill will be signed into law.”

“Too many families have been ripped apart by the opioid epidemic and the time to act is now,” said Congressman Brindisi. “This legislation, supported by Democrats and Republicans, will hold China accountable and give law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on this deadly drug entering our country. The Senate had the courage to act and now the House must do the same.”

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. Waivers would be provided for countries that take sufficient action to implement and enforce regulations on synthetic opioid production.
  • Authorize new funding to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the Department of Treasury, Department of Defense and Department of State, to combat the foreign trafficking of synthetic opioids.
  • Urge the President to commence diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions against foreign synthetic 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.

Schumer explained that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), between November 2017 and 2018 roughly 2,000 people died from an opioid overdose in New York State. Additionally, Schumer said that about 1,500 of those opioid overdose deaths were from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

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 has struggled to enforce its current drug laws and continues to deny that its illicit fentanyl producers are a major source of the illicit opioids contributing to the U.S. opioid crisis. To ensure accountability, Senators Schumer, Cotton, Brown, Crapo, Menendez, Toomey, Rubio, Shaheen, Cornyn, Markey, Capito, Peters, Feinstein, and Blackburn’s 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 sanction tools to go after actors, from manufacturers to traffickers, in China and other countries. Read more about the bill here.