Language from Buchanan’s Fentanyl Sanctions Act passes House

Language from bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) to curb fentanyl imports into America last week received U.S. House of Representatives approval as part of a larger bill.

Rep. Buchanan in April sponsored the Fentanyl Sanctions Act, H.R. 2226, with U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) to establish programs addressing illicit opioid trafficking and to impose sanctions on foreign individuals and entities involved in such activities, according to the congressional record summary.

Language in H.R. 2226 is similar to that included in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, S. 1790, a compromise defense policy bill the House passed on Dec. 11.

If enacted, S. 1790 would impose economic penalties on China-based drug manufacturers that knowingly send synthetic opioids to drug traffickers and criminal operations, according to a summary of the bill’s conference report provided by Rep. Buchanan’s office.

“For too long, fentanyl and other opioids have continued to wreak havoc on communities in Florida and across the country,” Rep. Buchanan said. “We need to hold Beijing accountable for any lack of progress controlling the fentanyl freely flowing out of their country.”

Drug deaths nationwide involving fentanyl or other synthetic opioids increased more than 1,000 percent over the last six years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two counties in Rep. Buchanan’s home state also have seen the death toll rise.

In Manatee County, Fla., there have been 601 overdoses and 61 deaths as of October this year, which the Manatee County sheriff’s office says is more than twice as many deaths as were reported during the same period last year.

And in Sarasota County, Fla., there have been 78 overdoses and 10 deaths through October, a 20 percent increase in overdoses over the number during the same period last year, according to the Sarasota County sheriff’s office.

“This is a frightening development considering that just a few years ago the number of overdoses was declining,” said Rep. Buchanan.