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house Bill H.R. 4739

Should CBP Agents Receive Training on Synthetic Opioids & Personal Protective Equipment to Prevent Exposure?

Argument in favor

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, officers, personnel, and canines are on the frontlines of preventing deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl from entering the U.S. This work carries a significant risk of accidental exposure and overdose. Providing proper training and protective gear to minimize and mitigate these risks is essential.

Rene's Opinion
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12/10/2019
I can’t believe this is even an issue. It should be automatically added when deadly substances that are airborne or absorbed through skin is involved.
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Sarah's Opinion
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12/09/2019
My problem is that I do not trust this administration to fully train and protect our officers at the border
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Daryl's Opinion
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12/09/2019
How can agents do their jobs efficiently if they aren't trained properly or have the necessary equipment to do their jobs? However, why is this a BILL? Can they not authorize training for themselves or procure the necessary equipment? Why is Congress involved in this?
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Argument opposed

CBP has already acted to address the problems its Inspector General identified with fentanyl handling, storage, and overdose response at the agency. It’s already committed to putting Narcan kits at all storage vault sites, as well as training all its agents on using the kits. In light of CBP’s efforts, this legislation isn’t needed.

jimK's Opinion
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12/09/2019
Legislation should be directed to the ‘what’ that an agency should be doing as it’s mission. Legislation should, in general, not be directed to the ‘how’ an agency should do it’s mission. If the agency cannot figure out the ‘how’, then they must be incompetent and should just be eliminated. Of course, there may be ‘rules of engagement’ issues from outside factors needed to assure adherence to norms for public engagement or enforcement in special cases where those norms are not clearly established elsewhere. Telling someone ‘how’ they should go about achieving a goal is highly prescriptive and fairly easy to do. Directing someone to accomplish something that is needed is much more difficult and requires strategic thinking and an understanding of broad other interacting factors that may effect those goals. I really think Congress has got to stop regulating the ‘how’ of things and focus on the higher level issues of ‘what’ and ‘why’. Stuff like this is ‘feel good’ legislation that should not be needed; if the agency needs new tools or safety equipment they can justify it in their annual budget request. See, no legislation needed!
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Ticktock's Opinion
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12/09/2019
Congress should not need to micro manage the Agency. This is something that the Agency should be able to accomplish on their own authority. If additional funding is required there are methods that allow requests to be made by the Agency. The politicians and appointees need to butt out and allow the federal employees and managers do their jobs and stop interfering.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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12/09/2019
They are already doing it so why add this? It dose nothing. How about you let the agency handle its training plans instead of micromanaging?
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What is House Bill H.R. 4739?

This bill — the Synthetic Opioid Exposure Prevention and Training Act — would require that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) establish specific protocols and procedures for safely handling substances that could contain synthetic opioids. It would also require CBP agents to receive mandatory recurrent training on synthetic opioid safety. This training would cover the potential risks of opioid exposure, safe handling for procedures for synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl), and opioid antagonist (such as naloxone) administration after exposure to potential synthetic opioids.

Additionally, this bill would direct the CBP Commissioner to ensure that all CBP officers, agents, other personnel, and canines have access to personal protective equipment and opioid receptor antagonists such as naloxone. 

Finally, this bill would require regular oversight of the trainings, protocols, and procedures established under it.

Impact

CBP personnel and canines; protection against and training on synthetic opioid exposure for CBP personnel and canines; and the CBP Commissioner.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4739

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) introduced this bill to ensure that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) employees and canines are adequately protected against the dangers of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

This legislation unanimously passed the House Homeland Security Committee and was discharged by the House Ways and Means Committee. It has nine bipartisan House cosponsors, including five Republicans and four Democrats.


Of NoteMost of the synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, currently fueling the U.S. opioid crisis originate overseas. As such, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) plays an important role in preventing these borders from cross U.S. borders. On any given day, CBP screens over 67,000 cargo containers, seizing over a ton of illicit drugs in the process. In recent years, the volume of seized synthetic opioids has skyrocketed, increasing by over 400% since 2016. 

As a result of their work, CBP personnel are at significant risk of exposure, through accidental inhalation or direct skin contact, to the dangerous chemicals in synthetic opioids. This can lead to accidental overdoses, which can be fatal. Merely two milligrams of fentanyl can kill most individuals, causing death by slowing — and eventually stopping — their breathing.

When available, naloxone (which is an opioid inhibitor), can be administered to treat known or suspected opioid overdoses. It can be injected in the affected person’s muscle or skin, or sprayed into their nose to restore breathing within 2-5 minutes, thereby preventing brain injury and death. Since naloxone only works if a person has opioids within their system (it has no effect otherwise), it doesn’t have any abuse potential.

In July 2019, the Dept. of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Inspector General (IG) issued a Management Alert (OIG-19-53) warning that CBP has failed to “adequately protect its staff from the dangers of powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.” The IG specifically noted CBP’s failure to make medications designed to treat narcotic overdose in case of accidental exposure available, owing to a lack of an official agency policy requiring standard workplace practices for handling fentanyl and methods to combat accidental exposure.

The IG Management Alert further noted that CBP didn’t have a standard agency training protocol to ensure that staff know how to safely handle fentanyl or a standard protocol to ensure that naloxone is both available and accessible at CBP sites. 

In a response letter to the IG Management Alert, CBP said that it concurred with the IG’s findings. It also promised to have Narcan (the branded version of naloxone) kits in all its vaults storing fentanyl by the end of September 2019, and to train all its agents on how to use the Narcan kits.

CBP also noted that, at the time of the IG alert, it had already trained over 4,500 officers on how to recognize the signs of an overdose, deployed 3,300 dual-use Narcan kits in the field, and outfitted its storage vaults with safety equipment (including gloves, masks, and Tyvek suits).

It’s unclear whether any CBP agents have been harmed by fentanyl in the agency’s custody.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: Josh Denmark, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Work Calexico via Flickr / Creative Commons)

AKA

Synthetic Opioid Exposure Prevention and Training Act

Official Title

To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to protect U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, agents, other personnel, and canines against potential synthetic opioid exposure, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed December 9th, 2019
    Roll Call Vote 393 Yea / 0 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security
    IntroducedOctober 18th, 2019

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    I can’t believe this is even an issue. It should be automatically added when deadly substances that are airborne or absorbed through skin is involved.
    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
    Legislation should be directed to the ‘what’ that an agency should be doing as it’s mission. Legislation should, in general, not be directed to the ‘how’ an agency should do it’s mission. If the agency cannot figure out the ‘how’, then they must be incompetent and should just be eliminated. Of course, there may be ‘rules of engagement’ issues from outside factors needed to assure adherence to norms for public engagement or enforcement in special cases where those norms are not clearly established elsewhere. Telling someone ‘how’ they should go about achieving a goal is highly prescriptive and fairly easy to do. Directing someone to accomplish something that is needed is much more difficult and requires strategic thinking and an understanding of broad other interacting factors that may effect those goals. I really think Congress has got to stop regulating the ‘how’ of things and focus on the higher level issues of ‘what’ and ‘why’. Stuff like this is ‘feel good’ legislation that should not be needed; if the agency needs new tools or safety equipment they can justify it in their annual budget request. See, no legislation needed!
    Like (49)
    Follow
    Share
    Congress should not need to micro manage the Agency. This is something that the Agency should be able to accomplish on their own authority. If additional funding is required there are methods that allow requests to be made by the Agency. The politicians and appointees need to butt out and allow the federal employees and managers do their jobs and stop interfering.
    Like (32)
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    Share
    They are already doing it so why add this? It dose nothing. How about you let the agency handle its training plans instead of micromanaging?
    Like (21)
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    I don’t understand why this bill is even under consideration. In the first place, the IG responsible for oversight fulfilled their duty, informed leadership and corrective measures have been employed. I would assume that the IG would continue to monitor and report as needed. This is an executive function, not requiring further legislation.
    Like (14)
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    No, this is already in place. Perhaps training may need to be revisited or protocols revised, but duplication and more expense may not be needed if what’s in place is working. This would be a question for agents to share their thoughts and needs.
    Like (7)
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    My problem is that I do not trust this administration to fully train and protect our officers at the border
    Like (7)
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    How can agents do their jobs efficiently if they aren't trained properly or have the necessary equipment to do their jobs? However, why is this a BILL? Can they not authorize training for themselves or procure the necessary equipment? Why is Congress involved in this?
    Like (6)
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    This is akin to Jerry Seinfeld’s joke about the bike helmet law. And for real - training for fentanyl?? Just don’t take the drugs, make the arrest, file the report. What training. Training for new fake drugs is the same as training for real drugs. ... are we saying the CBP has no training at all here? What exactly is the issue that requires congressional intervention???
    Like (5)
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    This seems reasonable to me, and we should have our "front lines" authorities enabled to handle drug related concerns such as fentanyl.
    Like (4)
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    Use common sense. Training is necessary to have agents ready and keep them safe.
    Like (4)
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    Synthetic opioids are manufactured by large pharmaceutical companies inside the US. Their use is prescribed by doctors inside the US. They're distributed by pharmacies inside the US. Even the illegal distribution is inside the US. So why do Customs and Border Patrol, who've already addressed their issues involving synthetic opioids, need more legislation? Why not address the issues caused by synthetic opioids with the domestic pharmaceutical companies that created the problem?
    Like (4)
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    All law enforcement, not just CBP should receive this training. They should also receive training on how to provide first aid to those who have overdosed. Exposure to drugs is not just something that CBP would experience. All law enforcement and first responders are likely to experience these situations.
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    Yes. I trained my employees to be very cautious when picking up random packages. Fentanyl can kill you thru a baggie.
    Like (3)
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    Well I wasn’t for this bill. However it passed 100% Bi partisan. 250 Bi partisan bills are sitting on Moscow Mitch’s desk that he refuses to bring to a vote. This one will end up with them. Tell me again why the senators are receiving a paycheck?
    Like (3)
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    The ongoing drug war wastes tax payer money and causes far more problems than full legalization.
    Like (3)
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    How stupid can you get? Those guys at the border already know how to do their job. Have you noticed that very few are crossing the border now. No thanks to the left and the politicians but thanks to Border Patrol and POTUS skills
    Like (3)
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    Yes. And so too should postal inspectors.
    Like (3)
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    We do not need a law, as the CBP is already addressing the problems with fentanyl handling, storage, and overdose response. They’ve already committed to putting Narcan kits at all storage vault sites, as well as training all their agents on using the kits. We don’t need legislation. CBP has got this!
    Like (3)
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    Re: HR 5038 Illegal Alien Amnesty Bill. I urge opposition to this Bill when it comes up this Wednesday. Vote NO on HR 5038
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