- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2018

House and Senate lawmakers said Friday they’ve reached an agreement on legislation that requires shippers sending packages into the U.S. to provide more data on what’s being sent, in an effort to cut the flow of illegal synthetic opioids from clandestine labs overseas.

The STOP Act’s primary champion — Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio — had complained that a House version removed the fines needed to prod the U.S. Postal Service into demanding the data.

He also wanted more stringent deadlines for acquiring data on all packages.

The House Ways and Means Committee said bipartisan negotiations produced a bill that requires the postal service to submit advanced data to U.S. Customs and Border Protection on 70 percent of packages by the end of this year and every package by the end of 2020 — a more aggressive timeline than the House bill’s push for 95-percent compliance by 2022.

It requires the U.S. Postal Service to reject packages that don’t contain the data. It will face civil penalties if it accepts them.

Private carriers such as FedEx already submit electronic data on foreign parcels before they arrive at U.S. ports, yet only a portion of foreign posts provide it to the U.S. mail system. Customs agents say the data is a key tool in targeting suspicious packages that may contain fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is far more powerful than heroin and can kill in tiny amounts.

“The STOP Act is critical to our efforts to combat the wave of opioid addiction and overdose deaths sweeping the country,” said Mr. Portman, a Republican. “It will require the Postal Service to provide advance electronic data on 100 percent of the packages entering the United States and provide law enforcement with the information they need to help stop the shipment of deadly synthetic drugs like fentanyl into our communities.”

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said he’s confident the new bill includes “tough new requirements” and should move to the floor quickly.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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