WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously passed U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown's bipartisan bill to keep illegal fentanyl out of Ohio, sending it to President Donald Trump's desk to become law.
Passage of the bill comes just as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data showing Ohio had the second-highest death rate by drug overdose in the U.S in 2016.
After months of Brown and law enforcement groups calling for passage of Brown's bill, Brown joined his colleague Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, to force a vote on the legislation, which will help law enforcement detect fentanyl before it enters the U.S.
The bill had already passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, and now goes to Trump's desk for his signature. Brown's INTERDICT Act will provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection with additional hi-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect fentanyl before it enters the U.S.
“Ohioans are dying from overdoses at the second-highest rate in the country. Families are being torn apart. Children are losing parents. Parents are losing sons and daughters. And we know fentanyl is one of the main culprits,” said Brown. “I urge President Trump to sign our bipartisan bill into law immediately, so we can give law enforcement the tools they need to keep this drug out of Ohio and off our streets.”
This week, the Fraternal Order of Police sent a letter to Senate leadership calling for passage of Brown's bill to help law enforcement officers as they work to keep deadly synthetic opioids from entering the country. Brown's bill is also supported by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-OH, and Brown is supporting Portman's STOP Act, which is also endorsed by law enforcement. The two bills work together to help block the deadly synthetic opioid from reaching Ohio communities.
During a Senate Finance Committee Hearing in October, Brown secured a commitment from CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to work with Brown to make sure customs agents have the equipment to identify fentanyl and keep the deadly drug out of Ohio.
Brown's bill will authorize $15 million for hundreds of new screening devices, laboratory equipment, facilities, and personnel for 24x7 lab support. The money will be used to:
- Provide more portable chemical screening devices at ports of entry and mail and express consignment facilities and additional fixed chemical screening devices available in CBP laboratories.
- Provide CBP with sufficient resources, personnel, and facilities — including scientists available during all operational hours — to interpret screening test results from the field.
Providing CBP with more screening devices and lab support will not only stop more Fentanyl from coming into the U.S., it will also protect more agents in the field from exposure to dangerous substances.