Brown Joins First Responders in Cincinnati to Press for Action on Legislation to Keep Fentanyl out of Ohio

Senator’s Fentanyl Sanctions Act was Passed by Senate as Part of Defense Bill Last Week, Heads to House for Passage

CINCINNATI, OH – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined first responders in Cincinnati following a recent spike in drug overdoses in southwest Ohio. Local officials believe that fentanyl has played a major role in the recent overdose spike. Brown has led efforts to help Ohio communities as they continue to battle the addiction crisis.

Last week, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included Brown’s bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act to give U.S. officials new sanction tools to target foreign opioid traffickers in China, Mexico and other countries. It would also better enable U.S. diplomats and law enforcement officials to maintain pressure on the Chinese government to implement and strictly enforce China’s commitment to treat all forms of illicit fentanyl as illegal.

“We all know the toll the addiction crisis has taken on our state. You’ve seen the wave in overdose deaths in Hamilton County this year –at the end of June, first responders were called to respond to 23 suspected overdoses over a 24 hour period. We have to get you the support and resources you need to be successful in our fight against addiction,” said Brown.

Brown was joined today by Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan as well as Cedric Robinson, EMS District Chief for the Cincinnati Fire Department.   

“Fentanyl continues to cause havoc on our communities. Its power is again displayed in recent overdoses and deaths. The spread of it being mixed with cocaine and methamphetamine which fentanyl being the foundation causing the overdose deaths with those drugs means its reach is expanding, leaving no community or groups untouched by it. This is not a drug found within our borders but instead manufactured, trafficked and distributed from countries such as China, Mexico and others that at any time could do more to stop fentanyl from entering the drug supply. Senator Brown's Fentanyl Sanctions Act would be a significant tool help reduce the devastation fentanyl is causing,” said Chief Synan.

“Time and distance has somehow numbed societies reactions to the continuing growing number of overdose deaths. The current epidemic commonly referred to as the Heroin Epidemic is still with us, continuing to burrow it’s poison into the fabric of every culture and community, including our first responders. Fentanyl is being mixed with heroin, crystal meth even crack cocaine to form an extremely deadly combination. No matter what the drug addiction is, Fentanyl appears to be the centerpiece of the deadly combination. No community is exempt,” said Chief Robinson.

Brown has long led efforts to make sure Ohio communities have the resources they need to keep dangerous drugs out of Ohio and make sure Ohioans struggling with addiction have access to prevention and treatment services. 

In March, Brown and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the second installment of State Opioid Response (SOR) grants that includes a $29,122,692 grant to the Ohio Department of Health to address Ohio’s addiction crisis. These funds will be used to expand access to addiction treatment that works, especially medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with appropriate social supports. The Ohio Department of Health will distribute these funds. 

Brown and Portman also reintroduced bipartisan legislation earlier this year to provide state and local law enforcement with high-tech devices to detect and identify dangerous drugs like fentanyl. The Providing Officers with Electronic Resources (POWER) Act would establish a new grant program through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to help state and local law enforcement organizations secure these high-tech, portable screening devices. The POWER Act gives law enforcement officers access to the same high-tech screening devices Markey, Brown, Rubio, and Capito secured for Customs and Border Protection agents in the INTERDICT Act. President Trump signed the INTERDICT Act into law last year. 

In May, Brown introduced the Family First Transition and Support Act, which would increase investment and support for child welfare as Ohio counties struggle to make sure children are cared for, especially in light of the addiction crisis. Brown’s bill would, among other things, create a new kinship placement program fund to expand funding for kinship support services, which help family members raising children pay for essential needs and services, such as childcare, and transportation. This is especially important with the rise of family members raising children due to the addiction crisis. 

Brown will continue working across the aisle and collaborating with officials at all levels of government to ensure Ohio has the resources it needs to keep deadly drugs out of Ohio and provide support to Ohioans struggling with addiction.