Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) outlined his bipartisan bill on Wednesday that would help the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) crack down on trafficking of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Brown’s bill, the INTERDICT Act, is co-sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). The bill would provide CPB with additional high-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect fentanyl before it enters the United States. 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. At some port locations, Brown said, CBP utilizes chemical screening devices that allow border agents to safely detect fentanyl entering the U.S., but these devices are not available to all ports of entry.
“Fentanyl has taken far too many lives across Ohio, and this is one concrete step we can take right now to help stop it from entering our communities and destroying any more Ohio families,” said Brown in prepared remarks. “It’s not enough to treat overdoses as they happen – we must do more to stem the tide of deadly synthetic opioids flooding the country. We know hi-tech screening works and we need to give CBP agents the tools they need to keep fentanyl from entering the U.S.”
He told reporters on the call that more personnel are needed in labs to interpret screening results, and based on feedback from CBP officials, the INTERDICT Act would increase the number of screening devices available to CBP as well as provide the resources, personnel, and facilities needed to analyze screening results in the field and keep fentanyl from entering the U.S.
Bill highlights: It would authorize $15 million for hundreds of new screening devices, laboratory equipment, facilities, and personnel for 24×7 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 scientiing ts available during all operational hours — to interpret screening test results from the field.
Repeal Of Workers Safety Rule
Minutes after the conference call with reporters Sen. Brown was on the Senate floor, where he went after a proposed labor department rule on employee wellness that Republicans want to repeal. Fraudulent record keeping by some companies on safety precautions makes the difference between life and death, he said, citing the chicken processing industry as an example of workers being injured and companies escaping consequences from poor working conditions.
“These are not jobs that, frankly, people in this body want,” he said, without a quorum being present, citing that too many employers fail to report accidents or dangerous working conditions.
“Worker safety is so fundamental it’s hard to believe we are arguing about it,” he said, adding that repealing this rule of the Obama Administration will put workers’ live at risk, just so companies can make more money. “We shouldn’t be part of that,” he said, wondering aloud whether senators would be willing to work these jobs or send their children to work these jobs. “Instead of coming together, America is going in the opposite direction…with more ways to exploit American workers.”
“It’s disgraceful that this body [Senate] fails to understand this.”