EXCLUSIVE — Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate will debut legislation that would declare fentanyl a national security threat and allow the Pentagon to take new action targeting Mexican drug cartels.
Senate Armed Services Committee members Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) shared exclusively with the Washington Examiner Tuesday morning their forthcoming bipartisan, bicameral bill to use their oversight authority of the Department of Defense to force the federal government to take stronger actions against Mexican transnational criminal organizations.
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“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 said in a statement provided to the Washington 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.”
The Disrupt Fentanyl Trafficking Act would require the Pentagon to develop a fentanyl-specific counterdrug strategy, including how to work directly with the Mexican military and to increase security operations with Mexico.
“If we want to prevent future tragedies, the United States must work with Mexico to counter fentanyl trafficking across our southern border,” Kaine said. “This bipartisan, commonsense bill would help us create the strongest strategy for how to do that.”
Fentanyl is largely moved into the U.S. from Mexico, and the ingredients to make the powerful drug originate in China and are then shipped to producers in Mexico.
Ernst and Kaine maintained that enlisting the Mexican government as an equal partner in the war on fentanyl is critical, given the southern neighbor has failed to get a hold of the problem over the past five years.
Between 2017 and 2021, fentanyl seizures at the U.S. border increased by 950% — most of which occurred under Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
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Fentanyl has become the leading cause of death in U.S. adults between 18 and 45. President Joe Biden, in his State of the Union address earlier this year, vowed to do more to tackle the epidemic.
Ernst and Kaine were joined by Reps. Stephanie Bice (R-OK) and Salud Carbajal (D-CA), who have sponsored the bill in the House.
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