Hawley, Peters introduce bill to keep DHS accountable in fentanyl fight

by Jacob Fuller

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


The smuggling of illicit drugs into the U.S., particularly opioids like fentanyl, has grown into a serious crisis.

In response, two U.S. senators, one Democrat and one Republican, have created legislation that would concurrently give greater resources to law enforcement and attempt to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security is effectively and wisely using every means to prevent narcotics from entering the country.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) joined Wednesday with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to create the Enhancing DHS Drug Seizures Act. The general tenets of the bill are meant to force DHS to take a more forceful, deliberate, and learned approach to the crisis.

The bill would require DHS to “strengthen public-private partnerships with the shipping, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries” to combat the flow of drugs into the country while also creating an accountability structure that “ensures that DHS is utilizing available resources to develop additional ways to test for fentanyl and other illicit drugs” and “study how they can improve efforts to collect and analyze data on illegal drug seizures.”

Peters made it clear in his statement that the issue is getting out of hand.

The opioid crisis continues to devastate communities in Michigan and across our country. That is why we must use every tool at our disposal to fight back against trafficking and seize these drugs before they can harm Americans. By bolstering the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to reduce the supply of dangerous drugs like fentanyl in the United States, this bipartisan bill will help reduce overdoses and save lives.

Hawley, who is not especially well known for reaching across the aisle, said this was an issue that required a bipartisan effort.

“Illicit drugs such as fentanyl are devastating communities and families across the country, including those in Missouri,” Hawley said in a statement. “In order to crack down on drug cartels and criminals operating across our southern border, we need to give the Department of Homeland Security the right tools and resources to root out drug smuggling and improve interdiction efforts. I’m proud to work with Chairman Peters on bipartisan solutions to address the ongoing opioid crisis.”

Hawley’s observation about the crisis having its nexus point at the southern border, or at least being interwoven with illegal immigration, proved prophetic Wednesday.

A series of press releases from U.S. Customs and Border Protection showed that on Tuesday and Wednesday alone, enforcement agents confiscated 235 pounds of marijuana in Edinburg, Texas; $2.1 million worth of liquid meth in Rio Grande City, Texas; 18 pounds of meth in Campo, Calif.; and 84 pounds of meth in Indio, Calif.

Bear in mind that these incidents were only those deemed sufficiently large enough to warrant a press release and do not account for smaller amounts of drugs that were confiscated or those narcotics that entered the country undetected.

A recent poll shows that Americans see the opioid crisis growing and want to see legislators do more on the issue. A Rasmussen poll published Wednesday revealed “by more than a four-to-one margin, Americans say the nation’s problem with opioid drugs is getting worse, not better – and they don’t think President Joe Biden is doing enough to stop it.”