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house Bill H.R. 3722

Should Homeland Security Establish a Joint Task Force to Stop Opioid Smuggling?

Argument in favor

Fentanyl- and synthetic opioid-related deaths are on the rise in certain regions of the U.S. It’s important to keep these drugs entry out of the country by detecting and intercepting them at points of entry.

jimK's Opinion
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09/27/2019
Yes. It is certainly a good and proper goal to keep these hazardous drugs out of circulation. I am a little concerned regarding why legislation is even needed to do this. It seems that Congress often wants to legislate every little nit of how agencies should operate. I thought that interagency cooperation is a part of these agencies charters, so I find it hard to see why this and frankly, a lot of other bills are at all necessary. Oh for the good old days, before word processors, when legislation was short, clearly and carefully worded and kept at a high enough level that agencies could simply be notified by oversight committees of issues that Congress felt they should address. Are there way too many lawyers in government needing to specify all the nitty gritty details of what is good and proper, instead of relying simply upon what actually is good and proper?
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SneakyPete's Opinion
···
09/27/2019
By All Means .... Yes The Bill Needs Passing Fentanyl- and synthetic opioid-related deaths are on the rise in certain regions of the U.S. It’s important to keep these drugs entry out of the country by detecting and intercepting them at points of entry. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 9.27.19.....
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Robert's Opinion
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09/27/2019
Why has the flow of drugs not stopped? We have had a war on drugs for decades. Our politicians have year in and year out said we have to do something. What have been the results of the war?
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Argument opposed

As the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) is already carrying out efforts similar to the ones prescribed in this bill, there's no need for this legislation.

Marinus's Opinion
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09/27/2019
We don’t need more bureaucracy. Spend the money on education and rehab instead
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Susan's Opinion
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09/27/2019
This so called war has been fought for decades. Why add to the bureaucracy! We need to rethink this problem.
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Cheryl 's Opinion
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09/27/2019
Really, another task force. If there is extra money lying around use it for education and recovery for addiction. We do not need another layer of bureaucracy slowing down everything. Use the money to help addicts come out the other side alive.
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What is House Bill H.R. 3722?

This bill — the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act of 2019 — would expand Joint Task Force authority to authorize the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish a joint task force to enhance border security operations to detect, interdict, disrupt, and prevent narcotics (such as fentanyl) and other synthetic opioids from entering the U.S. DHS would report to Congress on the task force’s establishment, and it’s established, DHS would periodically report to Congress its work. The reports would include resource assessments detailing whether additional resources are needed to detect and prevent narcotics from entering the U.S.

This bill would also authorize DHS joint task forces to engage with and receive assistance from outside the agency. This would allow joint task forces to work with private sector organizations and federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial entities.

Impact

Private sector organizations working to combat fentanyl abuse; federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial entities fighting fentanyl abuse; drug abuse; border security; fentanyl; fentanyl smuggling into the U.S.; DHS; Joint Task Force Authority; and Congress.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3722

As DHS is already carrying out activities similar to those required in this bill, the CBO estimates that implementing this bill wouldn’t have a significant cost.

More Information

In-DepthRep. James Langevin (D-RI) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to establish a Joint Task Force at the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) to stop fentanyl and other opioids entering the U.S.

“Rhode Island continues to be among the states hardest hit by the opioid overdose epidemic. 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.”

In floor remarks at this bill’s committee markup, Rep. Langevin noted that because fentanyl is almost exclusively smuggled into the country illegally, preventing its entry into the U.S. could help turn the tide on this growing problem: 

“[F]entanyl, a once obscure synthetic opioid… was involved in two thirds of drug overdose deaths in Rhode Island [in 2018]. Our constituents need leadership from Congress and from this Committee in order to stem the tide. Unlike many other prescription opioids, which are often diverted from legitimate purposes, the bulk of illicit fentanyl use is tied to drugs smuggled across the border, especially from China. Last Congress, under the leadership of Senator Claire McCaskill, the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs conducted a study that found the vast majority of opioids interdicted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection are seized at ports of entry. Between 2013 and 2017, approximately 25,405 pounds, or 88% of all opioids were seized by CBP. The most active areas were located along the southern border as those seizures accounted for 75% of all opioids collected at ports of entry during the same five-year period.”

Rep. Langevin added that this bill uses a proven method to increase effectiveness, coordination, and information-sharing across agencies, jurisdictions, and organizations: 

“My bill, the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act of 2019, authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a task force to enhance the internal integration of the Department’s border security operations to detect, interdict, disrupt, and prevent narcotics, including fentanyl, from entering the United States. The bill builds upon the existing joint task force model, pioneered by former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, to foster coordination at the highest levels of the Department on specific challenges… Importantly, the bill also encourages the opioids joint task force to collaborate with private sector organizations and any other Federal, State, local, tribal, territorial, or international task force—including those working with the United States Postal Service and other parcel delivery services—to increase operational effectiveness, coordination, and information sharing. Addressing the crisis ravaging our communities is, of necessity, collaborative. Public health professionals, social services providers, and law enforcement agencies all have important roles to play. DHS needs to be a bigger part of that conversation, and it needs to bring its capabilities to the table in a manner facilitated by the joint task force model.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) argues that a Joint Task Force is necessary to end fentanyl’s inflow into communities

“The opioid epidemic has been devastating families and communities across the country… We’ve seen real progress towards beating back this epidemic on the local level thanks in large part to a comprehensive, all-hands-on-deck approach. However, in order to truly end the flow of fentanyl into our communities we need to take the same approach nationally, and the creation of a Joint Task Force to zero in on this threat is a critical step towards that goal.”

Cosponsor Rep. Michael McCaul, Lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Chairman Emeritus on the House Homeland Security Committee, adds

“For far too long, the flow of illicit drugs across our borders has been fueling an epidemic of addiction in our local communities. It’s going to take a robust, coordinated effort 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.”

In the current Congress, this legislation has unanimously passed the House Homeland Security Committee with the support of six bipartisan cosponsors, including five Republicans and one Democrat. Last Congress, it passed the House by voice vote with the support of two Republican House cosponsors. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), had four Senate cosponsors, including three Democrats and one Independent, and didn’t receive a committee vote.


Of NoteThe CDC reports that 70,237 people died from drug overdoses in 2017 — and 47,600 (nearly 68%) of those deaths involved prescription or illicit opioids. In 2017, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and Kentucky had the highest rates of drug overdose deaths. Respectively, these states saw 57.8, 46.3, 44.3, 44.0, and 37.2 deaths per 100,000 due to drug overdose. 

The RAND Corporation reports that in 2018, the eastern U.S. and some regional drug markets in Canada also saw dramatic increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl (~3,000 deaths in 2013 versus over 30,000 deaths in 2018). In a recently released report, the RAND Corporation warns “once fentanyl gains a foothold, it appears capable of sweeping through a market in a few years.” It also warns that fentanyl drives up deaths, rather than the number of users — which is to say, it’s a deadlier drug than other opioids.

Fentanyl — a powerful and deadly synthetic opioid analgesic similar to morphine, but 50-100 times more potent than morphine and up to 50 times more powerful than heroin — is often added to heroin. This causes users to experience a stronger effect than they’d planned, often leading to an overdose. As proof of this, the Drug Enforcement Association (DEA) reported that fentanyl was present in 67 percent of the 5,456 drug overdoses in Pennsylvania in 2017. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 29,418 Americans died from fentanyl overdoses in 2017up by 840 from 2012

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seizure data, China is the principal source of illicit fentanyl and fentanyl-related compounds in the U.S., including both scheduled and non-scheduled substances. According to Rep. Langevin’s office, about 90% of illicit fentanyl that winds up in the U.S. is produced in China.

Since fentanyl is fairly cheap to produce, it could shift to be manufactured in other nations or even domestically.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Darwin Brandis)

AKA

Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize a Joint Task Force to enhance integration of the Department of Homeland Security's border security operations to detect, interdict, disrupt, and prevent narcotics, such as fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, from entering the United States, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • The house Passed September 27th, 2019
    Roll Call Vote 403 Yea / 1 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security
    IntroducedJuly 11th, 2019

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    Yes. It is certainly a good and proper goal to keep these hazardous drugs out of circulation. I am a little concerned regarding why legislation is even needed to do this. It seems that Congress often wants to legislate every little nit of how agencies should operate. I thought that interagency cooperation is a part of these agencies charters, so I find it hard to see why this and frankly, a lot of other bills are at all necessary. Oh for the good old days, before word processors, when legislation was short, clearly and carefully worded and kept at a high enough level that agencies could simply be notified by oversight committees of issues that Congress felt they should address. Are there way too many lawyers in government needing to specify all the nitty gritty details of what is good and proper, instead of relying simply upon what actually is good and proper?
    Like (53)
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    We don’t need more bureaucracy. Spend the money on education and rehab instead
    Like (40)
    Follow
    Share
    This so called war has been fought for decades. Why add to the bureaucracy! We need to rethink this problem.
    Like (30)
    Follow
    Share
    Really, another task force. If there is extra money lying around use it for education and recovery for addiction. We do not need another layer of bureaucracy slowing down everything. Use the money to help addicts come out the other side alive.
    Like (17)
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    Don’t they already? What the f is going on in this country? Was this not common sense? Have we fallen so low we cannot remember the laws we used to have? Did they all suddenly disappear? Under this Pig each day is a new revelation of crimes, ignorance, stupidity, narcissism and greed. It is mentally exhausting! Please, will you finally end this madness? Please!
    Like (12)
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    Build the wall.
    Like (11)
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    By All Means .... Yes The Bill Needs Passing Fentanyl- and synthetic opioid-related deaths are on the rise in certain regions of the U.S. It’s important to keep these drugs entry out of the country by detecting and intercepting them at points of entry. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 9.27.19.....
    Like (11)
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    Classic US Government play here.....fund the smuggling of drugs and then fund the battle to end the smuggling. Let’s not forget to mention all the money DC is getting from Big Pharm lobbyists. This is no different than when the CIA started funding cartels to ship drugs into the country so we could beef up and militarize police forces to stop drug crimes. The government gets money, the military industrial complex gets money and the henchmen in Blue get money. Everyone wins except for the People.
    Like (9)
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    Why has the flow of drugs not stopped? We have had a war on drugs for decades. Our politicians have year in and year out said we have to do something. What have been the results of the war?
    Like (8)
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    NO, I am a retired Police Officer and I spent 3 years in Afghanistan where 90% of the worlds opium supply comes from. Police agencies already have Drug task Forces The Federal Government already has the DEA - it is their job to stop drugs PERIOD regardless of the type of drug. If the USA wants drugs stopped they should have continued with the Drug Eradication Program in Afghanistan when we were there BUT the USA stopped enforcing the Eradication Program. If the USA wants to put a dent in the OPIOID program they should stop sending Financial AID to Afghanistan until they stop sending us their drugs and pressure them to stop it. YOUR IDEA OF FUNDING THE OPIOD CRISIS is to PAY Medical programs to fund OPIOID ADDICTION PROGRAMS -- that stops Nothing. America could if they wanted to -- put a serious dent in the illegal drug trafficking if they wanted to through POLITICAL NEGOTIATION AND EMBARGOES from CHINA - AFGHANISTAN - MEXICO and INDIA but America does not do that.
    Like (7)
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    I’d much rather DHS do this instead of persecuting refugees.
    Like (7)
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    A worthy goal, and may I suggest getting those in Big Pharma who made billions while innocent patients became addicts because Perdue and the Sacklers had their companies giving doctors expensive vacations and other goodies to prescribe opioids paying for this by way of heavy federal fines for their crimes! I would also like to see the owners and CEOs of these companies put in jail for what amounted to murder and terrible injury to the families of the victims!
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    The government and its war on drugs have already done enough damage. Legalization will not only help those addicted, but will practically eliminate all the violent crime currently tied to drug smuggling.
    Like (6)
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    They can try. I as a nurse know that if they want drugs they will find them of invent other drugs
    Like (6)
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    What have they been doing up until now? DHS seems to think that Trump’s vanity wall will end all drug smuggling, despite the overwhelming amount of drugs coming through airport and shipping ports. Perhaps a better strategy would be a change of management.
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    This task force sounds like another way to legitimize harassing people of color at the border based on their race or perceived ethnic origin. We do need to address the opioid problem, but this is not the way to do it and I'm disappointed and angry that this is bipartisan. Experts agree that this is a public health issue, not solely about border security. Addiction is a disease, and we need to focus on treating it instead of throwing people in jail and treating black and brown people at the border like criminals. If there's no demand, the supply will stop. This task force is just a way to justify harassment and human rights abuses by CBP.
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    What’s the point of trying to stop opioid smuggling when we let the Sacklers get away with knowingly selling dangerous and addictive opioids to millions of people? Prosecute the Sacklers first.
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    I have another question? What is the DEA doing?, sitting on their thumbs? This looks like someone is trying to carve out chunks of money from my pocketbook
    Like (4)
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    No. We have an inexperienced acting head of Homeland Security. He should not be given more responsibility. The role of Homeland should definitely not be expanded. We have FBI, CIA & DEA. Leave well enough alone. Let Homeland do it’s intended job — a tight focus on investigating threats by alleged _terrorists._ Which, by the way, should have been left to the FBI & CIA in the first place.
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    Build the wall. Jussie sayin.
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