Homeland Preparedness News: House committee advances opioid anti-trafficking legislation

Homeland Preparedness News: House committee advances opioid anti-trafficking legislation

Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Peter King (R-NY) recently praised the efforts of the House Committee on Homeland Security in advancing legislation designed to address opioid trafficking.

The congressmen said passage of their Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish a Joint Task Force to better coordinate the interdiction of illicit fentanyl and other opioids entering the United States.

DHS Joint Task Forces coordinate activities across the Department for border security, crisis response, and regional cooperation. Under the Langevin-King legislation, the Department would be authorized to create new task forces focused on opioid interdiction.

“The opioid crisis is devastating communities in Rhode Island and across the nation,” Langevin, a senior member of the committee, said. “We must stop the flow of overseas fentanyl into our communities, and that requires continued collaboration and integration across the Department of Homeland Security. A new Joint Task Force will provide important coordination among the DHS component agencies and between the Department and private sector partners.”

King said the action and support from the Homeland Security Committee is an important step and a recognition of Langevin’s efforts.

“I will continue to do all that I can to make sure the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act becomes law, and we stop this epidemic from destroying our communities,” he said.

The congressman referenced a report from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, highlighting synthetic opioids like fentanyl are often transported in the mail or by private parcel delivery services from overseas. McCaskill has sponsored companion legislation in the Senate.

The bill now heads to the full House for further consideration.

Homeland Preparedness News: Reps. Langevin, King, McCaskill introduce legislation to fight opioid trafficking

Homeland Preparedness News: Reps. Langevin, King, McCaskill introduce legislation to fight opioid trafficking

By Kevin Randolph

U.S. Reps. James Langevin (D-RI) and Peter King (R-NY) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) recently introduced the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act.

The bill would enable Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a Joint Task Force to improve coordination of the interdiction of illicit fentanyl and other opioids entering the United States. It encourages DHS to collaborate with private sector entities, such as parcel carriers, on creating the task force.

“The opioid emergency gripping our nation is an incredibly complex problem that requires collaboration across agencies and our private sector partners to stem the tide of this epidemic,” Langevin, a senior member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said. “Rhode Islanders and Americans across the country are looking for solutions to prevent the trafficking of these opioids and reduce the human toll of this crisis. I’m proud to join Representative King and Senator McCaskill in introducing a bill that will help the Department in its effort to track, interdict, and prevent the proliferation of these highly addictive and deadly narcotics in our communities.”

The Secretary of Homeland Security is currently authorized to create Joint Task Forces for various purposes related to securing the United States’ land and maritime borders.

The bill would expand those authorizations to allow task forces established to combat fentanyl and other opioids entering the United States.

“Joint Task Forces require agencies to put their heads together in order to make a real impact—it’s a valuable tool that can and should be brought to bear on this ongoing national public health crisis,” McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said. “Communities and families across Missouri are being ravaged, and I’ll continue to support any tool we’ve got to help address this epidemic.”

In 2016, approximately 42,000 people in the United States died due to opioid-related drug overdoses. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report studied opioid overdoses in 10 states and found that more than half of the deaths were related to illicitly produced fentanyl. Ninety percent of illegally produced fentanyl is manufactured in China.