House Passes Buchanan Proposal to Punish China, Stem Flow of Deadly Opioids
WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan’s proposal punishing China for failing to curb the flow of deadly synthetic opioids into the United States, which was included in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), passed the U.S. House Wednesday.
Buchanan introduced the Fentanyl Sanctions Act (H.R. 2226) in April with Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), which closely mirrors language included in the NDAA. This bill would impose economic penalties on China-based drug manufacturers that knowingly send synthetic opioids to drug traffickers and criminal operations.
“For too long, fentanyl and other opioids have continued to wreak havoc on communities in Florida and across the country,” Buchanan said. “We need to hold Beijing accountable for any lack of progress controlling the fentanyl freely flowing out of their country.”
With drug overdoses on the rise, last month Buchanan urged the chairmen of the U.S. House and Senate Armed Services Committees to include his bill in the final version of the NDAA.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug deaths nationwide involving fentanyl or other synthetic opioids skyrocketed by more than 1000 percent in the past six years.
In Manatee County, there have been 601 overdoses and 61 deaths through October of this year — more than twice as many deaths as reported during the same period last year, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's office. In Sarasota County, there have been 78 overdoses and ten deaths through October — a 20 percent increase in overdoses over the number during the same period last year, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s office.
“This is a frightening development considering that just a few years ago the number of overdoses was declining,” Buchanan said.
Congressman Buchanan has been an active leader in addressing the opioid crisis in Florida. Buchanan’s bill to create a national database on the best ways for patients to manage pain and avoid opioid addiction, the Centralized Opioid Guidance Act, was signed into law last year. Two other Buchanan-backed bills were also signed into law during the last session of Congress, the INTERDICT Act to help stem the flow of illicit opioids and the STOP Act to toughen screening of overseas shipments of deadly synthetic drugs coming into the United States. In 2017, Buchanan was successful in securing millions of dollars in funding for our area of Southwest Florida to confront the opioid epidemic.
He has consistently pushed to raise awareness of the Suncoast’s drug problems including chairing a hearing examining the impact of addiction on families and children. Buchanan also hosted a roundtable in Bradenton with local police officers, medical professionals, and stakeholders and led a meeting of the bipartisan 29-member Florida congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. where members heard testimony from anti-drug experts.