House Passes Langevin’s Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Fentanyl Trafficking

Sep 27, 2019 Issues: Rhode Island

WASHINGTONToday, the House of Representatives passed the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) that would create a task force within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prevent foreign fentanyl and other opioids from entering the United States. The bill, which Langevin introduced with Congressmen Peter King (R-NY), Max Rose (D-NY), and Michael McCaul (R-TX), passed by a vote of 403-1.

“I have heard from countless Rhode Islanders whose lives have been affected by opioids like fentanyl,” said Congressman Langevin. “Rhode Island remains one of the states hit hardest by the opioid overdose epidemic, and we must tackle the problem from every angle. My Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act requires the Department of Homeland Security to better coordinate to prevent fentanyl and other opioids from crossing our border and entering our local communities in the first place. I am thrilled it passed in the House with bipartisan support, and I urge my Senate colleagues to join us and pass this important legislation.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 130 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose. In 2017, the number of nationwide overdose deaths involving opioids (including illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was six times higher than in 1999. Rhode Island had the tenth highest drug overdose death rate of any state in the nation in 2017.

The Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act establishes a Joint Task Force at DHS for the purpose of preventing the inflow of fentanyl and other opioids into the United States. Joint Task Forces, which were first created by former Secretary Jeh Johnson, bring together all of the various operational components under DHS, such as Customs and Border Protection and the United States Coast Guard, to ensure unity of effort when tackling difficult homeland security challenges. The bill encourages DHS to work with other federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as private partners like parcel delivery services, when developing the task force and carrying out its mission.

Text of the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act.