Senators Markey, Rubio, Brown, and Capito Celebrate Senate Passage of Anti-Fentanyl Legislation; Bill Now Heads to President’s Desk

Markey legislation would provide Customs and Protection the latest in chemical screening devices and scientific support to detect and intercept fentanyl and other synthetic opioids at the border


New CDC Data shows nearly half of opioid overdose deaths in 2016 linked to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl


Washington (December 22, 2017) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), author of the INTERDICT Act, and Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) hailed Senate passage of their bipartisan legislation that would help to stop the flow of the illicit opioid fentanyl across the U.S. border. The lifesaving bill will help equip Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with scanning devices and other technologies to detect synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Mexico is the primary source for illicit fentanyl trafficked into the United States, while distributors in China are the principal source of the precursor chemicals used to manufacture the drug, as well as a source for finished-product illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, which are often shipped to the United States through the mail and express consignment carriers. Companion legislation introduced by Representatives Niki Tsongas (MA-03) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 412 to 3 in October.


In data released this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 42,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose in 2016, with nearly half being directly attributed to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.


“Fentanyl is presenting as the deadliest illicit opioid drug Massachusetts is facing,” said Senator Markey. “It is an immediate and grave threat to the American people, and we need to stanch its flow through our borders now. Customs and Border Protection is a critical line of defense in the battle to stop fentanyl from flooding our communities, and the INTERDICT Act will help provide it with the latest technological tools to detect and intercept this deadly drug. I thank Senators Rubio, Brown and Capito for their partnership on this legislation and call on President Trump to sign the bill immediately.”


“Fentanyl is a leading contributor to the opioid crisis that is destroying families and taking lives in Florida and across the country” said Senator Rubio. “I urge the president to quickly sign this bill into law so that we can further the progress in stopping fentanyl from entering our country from abroad, and ultimately curb the opioid epidemic.”


“Ohioans are dying from overdoses at the second highest rate in the country. Families are being torn apart. Children are losing parents. Parents are losing sons and daughters. And we know fentanyl is one of the main culprits,” said Senator Brown. “I urge President Trump to sign our bipartisan bill into law immediately, so we can give law enforcement the tools they need to keep this drug out of Ohio and off our streets.”


“Just this week, we learned that West Virginia continues to lead the country in overdose deaths, but we are not the only state that is being forced to deal with the tragic consequences of the growing opioid epidemic. Given the scope and the impact of this national crisis, it’s going to take a comprehensive, all-hands-on-deck approach to fight it, and enforcement is a big part of that strategy,” said Senator Capito. “I was proud to introduce the INTERDICT Act with Senator Markey and will continue working to make sure our law enforcement professionals have the tools and resources they need to keep illicit substances out of our country and off of our streets.”


Specifically, the INTERDICT Act:

  • Ensures that CBP will have additional portable chemical screening devices available at ports of entry and mail and express consignment facilities, and additional fixed chemical screening devices available in CBP laboratories
  • Provides CBP with sufficient resources, personnel, and facilities – including scientists available during all operational hours – to interpret screening test results from the field
  • Authorizes – based on CBP guidance – the appropriation of $9million for hundreds of new screening devices, laboratory equipment, facilities, and personnel for support during all operational hours


“Whenever I meet with local public safety officials, they explain the urgent need for resources and support to combat drugs like fentanyl,” said Rep. Tsongas. “The INTERDICT Act responds to the needs of these first responders and recognizes that the 21st century threat of synthetic opioids requires the latest tools to stop them. Providing CBP with more modern equipment and resources will improve their ability to keep these harmful substances out of our country. This bill will be a cutting-edge tool for eliminating synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, from the equation. I thank my House and Senate colleagues for their dedicated partnership. This was truly a bipartisan effort and I look forward to seeing this important bill signed into law.”


“As communities across my district and across our nation continue to deal with the crisis of opioid abuse and addiction it’s hard to imagine a synthetic drug up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “The INTERDICT Act is bipartisan legislation that provides U.S. Customs and Border Protection access to the latest in chemical screening devices and scientific support to detect and intercept synthetic opioids before they can cause more harm. I am pleased that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, first in the House and now the Senate, have voted to advance this important measure. I urge the president to quickly sign the INTERDICT Act into law so we can keep this poison off our streets.”