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Republican and Democratic lawmakers push Biden admin to protect US border from fentanyl trafficking

A bipartisan bill proposed Thursday would push the Biden administration to strengthen efforts to stop fentanyl from flowing into the U.S. from the southern border, as overdose deaths continue to spike nationwide.

Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Andrew Garbarino, R-N.Y., introduced the Securing America’s Borders Against Fentanyl Act, which would authorize $20 million for research to target and detect fentanyl coming across the southern border and strengthen data-driven targeting to increase seizure rates.

In April 2022, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced a nationwide spike in fentanyl-related mass-overdose events, and fentanyl has become a key focus of the 2022 midterm elections as a community and a southern border issue.

Spanberger is one of a handful of Democrats to break with her party to call attention to the southern border crisis, and the issue has been a theme throughout her career. She spent time as a CIA agent working on counterterrorism and international drug trafficking at the southern border, and in Congress has worked on border security and supports a pathway to citizenship for law-abiding immigrants. 

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Spanberger and Garbarino said in a joint news release that their legislation would “more than quadruple research and development into technologies and strategies that deter and interdict fentanyl shipments” and require the administration “to recognize the crisis at hand and build new strategies to target and detect illicit fentanyl coming through the southern border and onto America’s streets.”

As more fentanyl is seized along the southern border, and communities learn how dangerous the substance is, Garbarino said, “Fentanyl is the leading cause of death among Americans aged 18 to 45. This epidemic has devastated communities across the United States, and Long Island is no exception. We must act decisively to stop gangs and drug traffickers from bringing this poison into our country.” 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger meets with voters in Dumfries, Virginia, on June 18, 2022.

“These fentanyl shipments pose a threat to every American community, and this threat does not distinguish between Democrats and Republicans. That’s why we need to work together to fight this scourge, save lives, and hold transnational criminal organizations accountable for their crimes,” Spanberger said.

CALIFORNIA TEEN’S DEATH FROM FENTANYL UNDERSCORES DANGERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA DRUG MARKETS

In Virginia’s 7th District, where Spanberger is facing a difficult path to re-election this November, fentanyl and border security are two issues that keep hitting close to home. 

The Virginia Department of Health says an average of four Virginians died of an opioid overdose daily in 2020, and overdose deaths increased 17% since 2019. Particularly in the wake of the pandemic, drugs deaths and crime are up, and voters across the country are blaming what they see as the Biden administration’s lax policy stances on crime and the southern border.

Spanberger recently appeared in a press conference with police from Northern Virginia after the House passed the bipartisan Summer Barrow Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Act – a bill she named for Summer Barrow, a Virginian who lost her life to a fentanyl overdose in January 2020. If passed into law, the bill would provide $900 million for overdose prevention, first responder training, treatment for addicted people and alternatives to prescribing opioids in emergency rooms. 

Spanberger’s Republican opponent in the midterms, Police Officer Yesli Vega, has said the fentanyl coming across the U.S.-Mexico border feeds “more misery and death to those already struggling with addiction issues.”

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