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house Bill H.R. 1098

Should Countries That Don't Try to Stop Fentanyl Exports Be Ineligible for U.S. Foreign Aid?

Argument in favor

Fentanyl is a major contributor to America’s deadly opioid crisis, causing thousands of deaths a year. It’s necessary to do everything we can to prevent it from entering the U.S., including making countries that don’t do enough to curb fentanyl trafficking from within their borders ineligible for U.S. foreign aid.

JTJ's Opinion
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03/15/2019
Cut off all foreign aid period. Our government should not be stealing from its citizens and giving it to other countries.
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Doug's Opinion
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03/15/2019
I agree with this, but why only apply this to drugs? The USA gives massive amounts of taxpayer money to countries, organizations (cough..UN), and groups that actively undermine our values, goals and in some cases kill our citizens.
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Bob's Opinion
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03/15/2019
Every country should be ineligible for U.S. foreign aid. Our government shouldn't steal from us and give our money to foreign governments.
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Argument opposed

The main target of this bill, China, is already taking numerous actions to fight the fentanyl epidemic. Moreover, given that fentanyl imports into the U.S. are driven by domestic demand — i.e., the opioid epidemic — it’d be more effective to focus on reducing opioid abuse, rather than limiting fentanyl imports.

burrkitty's Opinion
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03/15/2019
Barking up the wrong tree. Treat addiction like the public health issue that it is and get people in treatment instead of prisons. Supply side doesn’t work for drugs or economics. Kill demand.
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DrCindyBean's Opinion
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03/14/2019
This would be very difficult to police. As written, I’m not in favor of this. We should have a robust, fully functional State Department that could be involved in guidance on how to best stop countries from allowing fentanyl and similarly dangerous drugs to reach the USA ports of entry.
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Aron's Opinion
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03/15/2019
No, because aid should never be held hostage to policy change.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedFebruary 7th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 1098?

This bill — the Blocking Deadly Fentanyl Imports Act — would make countries that allow exports of illicit fentanyl ineligible for taxpayer-subsidized foreign aid from the U.S. or Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) loans if they don’t cooperate with narcotics control efforts. Countries would be cut off from U.S. foreign aid for failing to adopt laws or regulations similar to U.S. standards on prosecution of drug makers who produce fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, emergency scheduling of new psychoactive substances, and regulation of the ownership of pill presses, which are used to produce counterfeit narcotics.

This bill would also require the State Dept. to identify which nations are major fentanyl producers in its annual narcotics report. The State Dept. already compiles these figures for countries producing heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Disaster relief, food assistance, medical assistance, and refugee assistance are exempted from this bill. Additionally, the president can maintain the flow of all aid to countries that cooperate with efforts to reduce fentanyl exports to the U.S., and/or in cases of vital national interest.

Impact

Opioid crisis; opioids; fentanyl; U.S. foreign aid; Export-Import Bank; State Dept.; and China.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1098

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced this bill to impose new penalties on fentanyl-exporting nations like China that don’t adhere to international narcotics control standards:

“Americans are now more likely to die from opioid-related overdoses than from car accidents, and fentanyl is the drug most responsible for fatalities. Protecting our communities from illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogues will require an all-hands-on-deck effort, including better cooperation from the foreign nations from which these deadly drugs are produced and trafficked into our country. This bipartisan legislation will hold these countries accountable for failing to cooperate adequately with our drug enforcement efforts. I’m grateful to Senators Toomey and Jones and Congressman Connolly for their leadership on this important bill.”

In a letter to his Congressional colleagues seeking cosponsors for this bill, Rep. Sensenbrenner wrote:

“For the past several years our nation has been afflicted by the growing number of tragic deaths caused by fentanyl overdoses. This deadly synthetic opioid is continuously being imported into the United States illegally at unprecedented levels. Much of the illicit fentanyl in the U.S. originates in China. To hold accountable countries that turn a blind eye to this problem, I have introduced the Blocking Deadly Fentanyl Imports Act (H.R. 1098). The legislation imposes new penalties on fentanyl-exporting nations, like China, that do not adhere to international narcotics control standards… Protecting our communities from illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogues will require an all-hands-on-deck effort, including better cooperation from the foreign nations from which these deadly drugs are produced and trafficked into our country.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who is sponsoring the Senate version of this bill along with Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), says:

“Illicit fentanyl from outside our borders has already prematurely ended far too many American lives. As fentanyl can be fifty times as potent as heroin, even small, difficult to detect amounts can be lethal, which is why it’s important to stop this problem at its source. This bipartisan legislation is a commonsense update to existing law that will hold the nations producing illicit fentanyl accountable, whether it be China or wherever the threat emerges next.”

When this bill was introduced in the Senate during the last session of Congress, Sen. Jones added that fentanyl also harms first responders:

“Fentanyl not only harms those who use it, but it also poses a serious threat to our first responders should they be exposed. This legislation is another smart step to stop illicit fentanyl from being transported across our borders and into our communities."

President Trump has taken aim at China over fentanyl originating from within its borders, tweeting on August 21, 2018:

“It is outrageous that Poisonous Synthetic Heroin Fentanyl comes pouring into the U.S. Postal System from China. We can, and must, END THIS NOW! The Senate should pass the STOP ACT [a bill from the 115th Congress aimed at curbing illicit fentanyl exports by requiring the US Postal Service to provide advanced electronic data (AED) on all packages entering the U.S.] – and firmly STOP this poison from killing our children and destroying our country. No more delay!”

China has pushed back aggressively against U.S. claims that it’s a major source of fentanyl. Yu Haibin, an official with China’s National Narcotics Control Commission, called Trump’s tweet “unacceptable” and “irresponsible,” adding, “The United States has no proof that most fentanyl in the country comes from China. It’s highly irresponsible to draw such a conclusion based on some individual cases.” Yu added that the U.S. needs to curb its huge demand for synthetic drugs, including closing loopholes in the prescription of opioids, and pointed to the trend to more states legalizing marijuana use as having a negative impact on the opioid crisis.

John Collins, head of the International Drug Policy Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE), agrees, contending that a more comprehensive approach to managing the overdose crisis in the U.S. is needed, rather than simply relying on control of supply from abroad. However, Collins also says that “a lack of regulatory capacity, perhaps regardless of the letter of the law” limits China’s ability to control its pharmaceuticals industry.

Despite rejecting Trump’s criticism of their efforts, Chinese officials have also stressed that there’s “good and close” cooperation between U.S. and Chinese narcotics control agencies. Chinese authorities have highlighted the installation of 13,000 security check machines at shipping companies in China to inspect parcels bound for “high-risk” destinations as an example of their attempts to address U.S. concerns.

Due to fentanyl’s potency and how easy it is to smuggle it into the U.S., experts are worried about it as a potential weapon for terrorists. Rick Bright, director of the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, says, “Fentanyl-based drugs have been used in conflicts in other countries, so we know it’s possible.”

This bill has three bipartisan cosponsors, including two Republicans and one Democrat. There is a Senate companion bill, introduced by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Doug Jones (D-AL).

A Senate bill similar to this bill was introduced in the 115th Congress by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) with the support of one cosponsor, Rep. Doug Jones (D-AL). It didn’t receive a committee vote. Sen. Toomey introduced his bill in the 114th Congress, as well, where it had no cosponsors and didn’t receive a committee vote.


Of NoteConsequences similar to those in this bill are in place for other drugs, imposed by the State Dept. in regards to any nation deemed a “major producer or trafficker” of illicit heroin, marijuana, cocaine, or methamphetamine and its base chemicals.

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. To help deal with this problem, China scheduled 116 New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), including six fentanyl analogues, in October 2015. On March 1, 2017, China announced controls on four more fentanyl analogues: carfentanil, furanylfentanyl, valeryl fentanyl, and acryfentanyl. On December 28, 2017, it announced domestic scheduling controls on 4-anilino-N-phenethylpiperidine (ANFF) and N-phenethyl-4-piperidone (NPP), two key precursor chemicals used to produce illicit fentanyl. Additionally, under an agreement with the U.S. Postal Service, China’s postal service provides advanced electronic data (AED) on parcels mailed to the U.S. CBP reports that China is now providing AED for over 98 percent of U.S.-bound parcels.

However, there are other measures that China could take to further halt fentanyl’s spread into the U.S. For example, in November 2017, President Trump requested that China schedule fentanyl as a class, which would effectively place all fentanyl analogues under control. This is especially important because there are approximately 1,400 potential fentanyl analogues. Additionally, in April 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated that he was seeking “greater cooperation” from China in sharing bank records in order to reduce illicit fentanyl imports. Most recently, in September 2018, the Chinese government listed an additional 32 New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) as controlled substances, including “designer drugs” such as fentanyl.

Since fentanyl is fairly cheap to produce, it could shift to be manufactured in other nations. For this reason, this bill has consequences in place for any nation, not just China, that’s not proactive in curbing the production and trafficking of this drug.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Darwin Brandis)

AKA

Blocking Deadly Fentanyl Imports Act

Official Title

To gather information about the illicit production of illicit fentanyl in foreign countries and to withhold bilateral assistance from countries that do not have emergency scheduling procedures for new illicit drugs, cannot prosecute criminals for the manufacture or distribution of controlled substance analogues, or do not require the registration of tableting machines and encapsulating machines.

    Cut off all foreign aid period. Our government should not be stealing from its citizens and giving it to other countries.
    Like (44)
    Follow
    Share
    Barking up the wrong tree. Treat addiction like the public health issue that it is and get people in treatment instead of prisons. Supply side doesn’t work for drugs or economics. Kill demand.
    Like (81)
    Follow
    Share
    This would be very difficult to police. As written, I’m not in favor of this. We should have a robust, fully functional State Department that could be involved in guidance on how to best stop countries from allowing fentanyl and similarly dangerous drugs to reach the USA ports of entry.
    Like (46)
    Follow
    Share
    I agree with this, but why only apply this to drugs? The USA gives massive amounts of taxpayer money to countries, organizations (cough..UN), and groups that actively undermine our values, goals and in some cases kill our citizens.
    Like (29)
    Follow
    Share
    No, because aid should never be held hostage to policy change.
    Like (26)
    Follow
    Share
    Every country should be ineligible for U.S. foreign aid. Our government shouldn't steal from us and give our money to foreign governments.
    Like (24)
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    This is another stupid idea run amok by an Administration that uses these terms liberally to make excuses for their malfeasance. There are two types of Fentanyl; Pharmaceutical and Illegally Manufactured Fentanyl, the later of which is introduced with other illegal drugs such as Heroin and Cocaine to produce a lethal dose to addicts and users. The greatest distribution of opioids has been the U.S. Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Industry that provides these high grade opioid products. If anyone should receive scrutiny it is the industry that has proliferated their use. Abusers inevitably discover illegal drugs are cheaper and more accessible than Pharmaceutical Grade products, so it is a vicious cycle that is difficult to break. Want to punish China for infringing upon U.S. Intellectual Property, go ahead. But they own part of the US Public Debt and the Law wouldn’t impact China, just as the Administration’s Tariffs have failed to produce greater GDP.
    Like (17)
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    The United States cannot force other countries to adopt a cookie-cutter policy on drugs. We shouldn’t be blaming other countries for our own opioid crisis and deal with it ourselves. One way to deal with it is by treating drug abuse as an illness rather than a crime. We need more drug rehabilitation and mental health programs, not more incarceration!
    Like (16)
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    This bill — the Blocking Deadly Fentanyl Imports Act — would make countries that allow exports of illicit fentanyl ineligible for taxpayer-subsidized foreign aid from the U.S. or Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) loans. I did know we gave foreign aid to China? Sounds like another republican move to move the goal line?
    Like (13)
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    We need to address the root of the problem. Using foreign aid in this situation is as good as the trickle down economics theory... which is garbage.
    Like (11)
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    I’m in favor of a way to curb this but why is the answer to everything to punish the helpless and hungry. Better to work on a way to police this without making the lives of the needy worse.
    Like (8)
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    Of course a Republican thought of this. What a dumb, ignorant idea. Pick up a research article and actually READ it for once. So many countries are addressing drug abuse issues in evidence-based, logical ways and finding much success but of course, in ‘Merica, we have to let the ignorant lead policy.
    Like (7)
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    Rep. Sensenbrenner would do better if he talked with addiction experts. To combat fentanyl addiction from the supply side is futile. It is more effectively addressed from the consumer side with quality co-occurring treatment programs. That’s where the money would be better spent.
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    Focus on cracking down on illicit fentanyl/carfentanil & heroin and leave chronic pain patients and their doctors ALONE!
    Like (6)
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    I don’t think that after forty years of failure, the solution is “more war on drugs”.
    Like (6)
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    Punishment punishment punishment. It doesn't work as a primary tool. The opioid crisis is induced by restricting access (not supply) and refusing to treat a known biochemical process inherent in humans. Addicts aren't dirty scum! Stop avoiding the need to treat people who must opiates. Treat the addiction process and the supply will dry up. Or did y'all conveniently forget capitalism all of a sudden?!
    Like (6)
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    The fentanyl problem must be fought by reducing demand. Fight addiction before it starts and get help for those who need it. This epidemic must end. It is rampant across the entire country. I
    Like (6)
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    Someone needs to read Congress the definition of 'Aid' and then the definition of 'Extortion' which is what bills like this are...
    Like (6)
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    We should stop our own country's pharma companies from pushing these opioids like they were candy. They should be held criminally liable for the thousands of deaths their unethical marketing campaign created. And stop the "war on drugs." Treat addiction like the disease it is and provide the treatment people need.
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    This country has given up all diplomacy and foreign policy for extortion.
    Like (5)
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