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Monday, December 6th, 2021

House bill would create task force to fight inflow of opioids

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A bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week to establish a task force at the Department of Homeland Security to stop the inflow of fentanyl and other opioids into the U.S.

The bill – the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act – is sponsored by Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI), Peter King (R-NY), Max Rose (D-NY), and Mike McCaul (R-TX).

The bill would give DHS the authority to create a task force focused on preventing opioids from crossing the border into the country. A record 47,600 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2017. That accounts for nearly 68 percent of all drug overdose deaths nationwide. Further, about half of opioid-related deaths are from overdoses involving fentanyl, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. Illegally manufactured fentanyl is responsible for the majority of overdose deaths, and about 90 percent of the illicit fentanyl is produced in China and smuggled into the United States.

“Rhode Island continues to be among the states hardest hit by the opioid overdose epidemic,” Langevin, a senior member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said. “We need to take a multi-pronged approach to solve this ongoing public health crisis, and it must include increased efforts to keep fentanyl and other opioids out of the country and off of our streets. That’s why I’m proud to join Representative King to introduce this bipartisan bill that will help the Department of Homeland Security better prevent the trafficking of these addictive and deadly drugs. We must do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our communities.”

McCaul said a robust, coordinated effort is necessary to end this public health crisis.

“The Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act will do just that by empowering the Department of Homeland Security to launch a joint task force specifically aimed at stopping illicit narcotics, such as fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids, from entering the United States,” McCaul, lead Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, said.