WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, the House Homeland Security Committee passed U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) bipartisan legislation to help keep the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl out of Ohio communities and provide border agents and other law enforcement with better equipment to protect themselves from deadly opioids in the field. According to news reports, overdose deaths in Ohio last year rose to 4,050 from 3,050 due in large part to fentanyl overdoses. Brown’s bill now goes to the House floor for passage by the full House.

Several state and national law enforcement organizations, including the Ohio FOP and the Buckeye Sheriff’s Association, have endorsed Brown’s bill. Brown’s bill is also supported by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Brown is supporting Portman’s STOP Act, which is also endorsed by law enforcement. The two bills work together to help block the deadly synthetic opioid from reaching Ohio communities.

“As I meet with law enforcement throughout the state, I see how hard they’re working to keep fentanyl out of Ohio communities,” said Brown. “I urge the House to pass this bill as we continue working to make sure border agents have the resources they need to stop this deadly drug from entering the U.S. in the first place.”

The INTERDICT Act would provide Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with additional hi-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect fentanyl before it enters the U.S.

Brown’s bill would authorize $15 million for hundreds of new screening devices, laboratory equipment, facilities, and personnel for 24x7 lab support. The money will be used to:

  • Provide more portable chemical screening devices at ports of entry and mail and express consignment facilities and additional fixed chemical screening devices available in CBP laboratories.
  • Provide CBP with sufficient resources, personnel, and facilities — including scientists available during all operational hours — to interpret screening test results from the field. 

Providing CBP with more screening devices and lab support will not only stop more Fentanyl from coming into the U.S., it will also protect more agents in the field from exposure to dangerous substances.

In May, Brown also wrote to the Department of Justice (DOJ) urging the agency to speed up the distribution of federal funding for the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Grant Program, which provides funding to police departments to train first-responders as they deal with opioid related incidents. The program was created as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which Brown supported.  Brown’s letter follows an Ohio police officer’s accidental overdose after coming into contact with the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl in the field.    

According to a report from the Ohio Department of Health, fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Ohio more than doubled from 503 in 2014 to 1,155 in 2015.

The following organizations have endorsed Brown’s bill: