Earlier this year, I spoke with a mom in Kissimmee who tragically lost her son to an opioid overdose. The young man, who happened to be a member of our Armed Forces, had returned home for Mother’s Day. While there, he met up with some old friends and was offered a Xanax to help with his anxiety. The pill he took was laced with fentanyl and it killed him. Sadly, this isn’t a one-off tragedy. I heard a nearly identical story last year when I was visiting the southern border in Yuma, Arizona.
Today, because of the raging crisis on our border and the deadly opioid crisis it is fueling, too many American families now know what this terrible loss is like. I’m fighting in the Senate to end this crisis and stop the suffering it’s causing across America.
To understand why the opioid crisis has become so deadly, it’s important to know just how lethal fentanyl is. Fentanyl is 100 times more lethal than morphine. Just a two-milligram dose of fentanyl which isn’t even a tenth of the weight of a grain of sand can be deadly. Knowing that, consider this terrifying fact: at the time of this writing, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has seized 9,962 thousand pounds of fentanyl smuggled over land borders since October 2021. That means that Mexican drug cartels have smuggled enough fentanyl over the border to kill more than one quarter of the world’s total population.
While our brave border patrol agents are doing everything they can to stop the flow of these deadly drugs into America’s neighborhoods, the Biden administration has left them understaffed and under-resourced. I’ve heard about it during my trips to the border. But the fentanyl crisis isn’t only a problem in border states like Arizona. It’s killing Floridians too. More than 2,000 Floridians have died in 2022 from opioid overdoses.
What is President Biden doing to stop the fentanyl killing spree? Nothing.
Since the very day he took office, Joe Biden has worked to dismantle our border protection policies. His amnesty agenda and open border policies have led to record-breaking illegal immigration, and with it, an unchecked deluge of drugs pouring into the United States.
We need political leaders who are willing to stand up, enforce our laws and protect Americans. That’s why I continue to demand that Joe Biden reverse course and secure the border, and why I’ve introduced multiple pieces of legislation to improve our federal response to the opioid epidemic.
First, I’m fighting to pass my bipartisan END FENTANYL Act to require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to update its policies at least once every three years to ensure the drug interdiction guidance is up-to-date. This is a problem that the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlighted in a recent report, noting, “CBP’s inspection policies are outdated and don’t reflect new technology or threatskey policies do not address how to handle the dangerous drug fentanyl. This leaves officers without guidance they need to do inspections properly and consistently.” Now that it has passed the Senate Homeland Security Committee, it’s up to Chuck Schumer to put it on the floor and let the Senate vote, but I doubt he’ll do it.
Second, I’ve introduced the STOP FENTANYL PACKAGE Act. This six-pronged bill would elevate the Office of National Drug Control Policy Director to a Cabinet-level position, improve data collection on opioid deaths, award grants to local law enforcement agencies in communities with concentrated opioid abuse rates, provide necessary funding for the Fentanyl Profiling Program to improve efficiency and results of the State Opioid Response Grants and improve access to prescription-grade overdose-reversing drugs.
Finally, I will be fighting to pass the UPDATED USPS Act to curb the flow of fentanyl through the mail. By strengthening electronic data requirements on shipments from foreign adversaries, and blocking packages that lack digital tracking data, we’ll be able to stop foreign cartels from circumventing border patrol agents.
Joe Biden can change course and use his power to stop the flow of fentanyl into America’s neighborhoods, like Yuma and Kissimmee. He can work across the aisle and take decisive action today to stop the fentanyl epidemic by endorsing my bills and calling for their immediate passage. The number of Americans dying from fentanyl is increasing every day. We don’t have time to wait, and I won’t stop fighting in the Senate to bring an end to this horrible crisis.
• Rick Scott is a United States Senator from Florida. He is a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He is the former Governor of Florida and served in the U.S. Navy as a radar man aboard the USS Glover.