Steil addresses fentanyl crisis at local level during roundtable

U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) is working to help keep communities in Wisconsin safe from the ravages of illicit fentanyl, the congressman said during a Sept. 7 roundtable he hosted in Kenosha, Wis.

“I will continue working with local, state, and federal partners to prevent this dangerous substance from devastating our communities,” Rep. Steil said. “While we work to prevent this drug from entering the USA, we must continue to raise awareness of the dangers of illicit fentanyl particularly when far too many victims are unaware they are taking it.”

During the roundtable — which was focused on fighting fentanyl in Kenosha County, Wis., and how the federal government can help — Rep. Steil met with numerous stakeholders from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), North Central High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office, and local community leaders and medical experts to discuss the increase in illicit fentanyl being found in the county, and how law enforcement is working to keep these substances off the streets. 

“In Kenosha County, there were 48 overdose deaths from illicit fentanyl in 2021,” said Rep. Steil. “In FY2021, CBP seized 11,201 pounds of fentanyl, more than twice the amount from a year before. These drugs are coming right into our communities.”

Area Port of Chicago CBP Director Kemisha Sherrell added that stakeholders must get down to the root of the problem and identify who is profiting from the drugs. “We can’t seize our way out of this,” Sherrell said. “CBP is looking at a multi-layered strategy to get to the heart of this issue.”

Kenosha County Executive Samantha Kerkman thanked Rep. Steil for bringing the fentanyl conversation to Kenosha County, as well as for the work he’s doing on the federal level to battle the fentanyl crisis. 

“It was an informative discussion, bringing a cross section of the community together, and it underscored the importance of building partnerships on the federal, state, and local levels,” said Kerkman.

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Steil joined 87 of his Republican colleagues as a cosponsor of the bicameral Halt All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl Act, also known as the HALT Fentanyl Act, H.R. 6184, sponsored in December 2021 by U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA). The same-named S. 3336 was introduced simultaneously by U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Richard Burr (R-NC).

If enacted, the measure would place fentanyl-related substances as a class into schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, designating a fentanyl substance as a controlled substance that is a drug, substance, or chemical that has a high potential for abuse; has no currently accepted medical value; and is subject to regulatory controls and administrative, civil, and criminal penalties under federal law, according to the congressional record summary.