The Lead

Pa.’s Pat Toomey teams with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on fentanyl bill

By: - April 5, 2019 3:03 pm

Capital-Star file

A fiscal conservative from Pennsylvania is teaming up with one of the U.S. Senate’s leading progressives on a bill aimed at fighting the influx of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl from China.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., rolled out legislation Friday that would, according to a statement released by Toomey’s office:

  • “Impose direct sanctions on drug manufacturers in China that knowingly provide synthetic opioids to traffickers and transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico known to be mixing fentanyl with other drugs and sending them into the U.S. The bill also applies sanctions on financial institutions that assist such entities.
  • “Urge the Trump administration to commence diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions against foreign opioid traffickers,” and
  • “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.”

Even though the Chinese government has stepped up its efforts to combat fentanyl manufacturing and exports, Toomey’s office said “questions remain surrounding China’s ability and willingness to enforce drug laws, as evidenced by denials that its illicit fentanyl producers are contributing to the U.S. opioid crisis.”

Citing the damage that fentanyl abuse and overdoses had caused across Pennsylvania, Toomey said he’s “committed to holding responsible those who export 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.”

Schumer, in a statement from Toomey’s office, added that “combating the flow of illicit fentanyl into our country is imperative in the fight to save American lives from the opioid crisis.

“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.”

U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Bob Menendez, D-N.J.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., are also sponsors of the bill.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.