WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call to highlight several important legislative victories for Ohio in 2019, including the enactment of his bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act. Brown’s bill will give U.S. officials new sanction tools to target foreign opioid traffickers in China, Mexico and other countries. The legislation will 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 know all too well the toll fentanyl has taken on our state,” Brown said. “Ohio families can’t afford to wait to see whether China actually enforces its laws this time, and because of our efforts, they won’t have to.”
This week, the Columbus Dispatch reported that in the first nine months of 2019, drug overdose deaths were up 15 percent in Franklin County, with fentanyl responsible for a high percentage of those overdose deaths. Throughout the past year, spikes in suspected overdose deaths have occurred across the state -- in cities like Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus -- and law enforcement officials believe fentanyl is largely to blame
Brown was joined on today’s call by Village of Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan, who spoke about the importance of Brown’s bill as Ohio continues to combat the ongoing addiction epidemic.
“The passage of the Fentanyl Sanctions Act is a significant step in helping to reduce the impact fentanyl has on our communities and country,” said Chief Synan. “The Fentanyl Sanction Act illustrates the key role our federal partners have in helping to save lives and reduce the damage fentanyl is presenting on the people we serve. I thank Senator Brown, Congress and the President for signing into law the Fentanyl Sanctions Act and ask for their continued support and partnerships so we can save lives, reduce the ability of other countries to influence our citizens with addiction and do more to make our communities healthy.”
Brown’s Fentanyl Sanctions Act would help crack down on illegal fentanyl coming to Ohio by:
- Requiring imposition of sanctions on foreign drug traffickers, drug manufacturers in China who knowingly provide illicit synthetic opioids to traffickers, individuals or firms operating alone or as part of transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S., and foreign financial institutions and others that knowingly assist such trafficking;
- Authorizing new funding to the Department of Treasury to implement sanctions to combat the foreign trafficking of opioids;
- Urging the President to intensify diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions and to deploy other multilateral measures against foreign opioid traffickers;
- Establishing a National Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to monitor U.S. efforts and report on how more effectively to combat the flow of illicit synthetic opioids from China, Mexico and elsewhere.
Brown’s Fentanyl Sanctions Act was one of several important legislative victories Brown was able to secure for Ohio at the end of last year, including:
- The Otto Warmbier Nuclear Sanctions and Enforcement Act
- The Burn Pit Accountability Act
- Full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
- Key investments for 1980 Land-Grant Institutions
- $500 million for the Violence Against Women Act
- The Bipartisan American Miners Act
- The Family First Transition Act
Brown will keep pushing for legislative priorities that are important to Ohio in 2020 and will continue working with colleagues in Congress to secure important wins for our state.