Schumer, Cotton Announce Inclusion Of Fentanyl Sanctions Act In Must-Pass Defense Bill; First-Of-Its-Kind Legislation Will Hold China Accountable For Commitment To Crack Down On Deadly, Illicit Trafficking

December 11, 2019

Bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act, Included In National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) For Fiscal Year 2020, Will Pressure China, Mexico, And Other Synthetic Opioid Trafficking Countries To Crack Down On Traffickers, Direct Trump Admin. To Identify & Sanction Foreign Traffickers Of Synthetic Opioids, And Authorize New Funding For Law Enforcement & Intel Agencies 

China Is The World’s Largest Producer Of Illicit Fentanyl And Currently Lacks The Capacity To Enforce Their Promise To Regulate Fentanyl; New Legislation Will Pressure China To Move Forward With An Aggressive Plan And Help U.S. Go After Illicit Traffickers 

Schumer, Cotton: China Must Be Held Accountable For Its Commitment To Regulate Deadly Fentanyl

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) today announced that following their push, the bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act has been included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, which is expected to pass early next week.

The senators’ bill will hold China and other countries accountable for their commitments to crack down on producers and traffickers of fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids, pushing China’s government to honor their commitment to enforce new laws declaring all fentanyl derivatives illegal. Additionally, the legislation will provide the U.S. government with more tools and resources to sanction illicit traffickers from China, Mexico, and other countries—a critical effort, in light of the steep rise in devastating fentanyl overdose deaths.

“The opioid epidemic is devastating and indiscriminate, and year after year, it’s claimed tens of thousands of American lives. We must hold China, currently the world’s largest producer of illicit fentanyl, accountable for its role in the trade of this deadly drug. Our bipartisan sanctions bill will do just that,”  said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.  “For years, Chinese laboratories have been cooking-up formulas of death and freely exporting lethal fentanyl across the United States—and it has to stop.”

“The Chinese government is the world's largest drug dealer," said Senator Cotton. "China has allowed fentanyl and other synthetic opioids to pour into the United States for years, killing tens of thousands of Americans. Our law enforcement and intelligence agencies need additional resources to target the fentanyl producers, traffickers, cartels, and other criminals who are funneling this poison across our borders and into our communities. I'm pleased that this year's NDAA includes our bipartisan amendment to give law enforcement critical tools to stop this scourge and hold China accountable.”

The Fentanyl Sanctions Act was introduced by Leader Schumer and Senator Cotton, and co-sponsored by Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID), Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-MI), Senate Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Require imposition of sanctions on drug manufacturers in China who knowingly provide synthetic opioids to traffickers, transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S. and financial institutions that assist such entities. Waivers would be provided for countries that take sufficient action to implement and enforce regulations on synthetic opioid production.
  • Authorize new funding to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the Departments of Treasury, Department of Defense and Department of State, to combat the foreign trafficking of synthetic opioids.
  • Urge the President to commence diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions against foreign synthetic opioid traffickers.
  • Establish a Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to monitor U.S. efforts and report on how to more effectively combat the flow of synthetic opioids from China, Mexico and elsewhere.

Following a commitment to the U.S. at the G-20 in December 2018, Chinese regulators announced on April 1, 2019, that a wider range of fentanyl derivatives would be declared controlled substances in China on May 1, 2019. China has struggled to enforce its current drug laws and continues to deny that its illicit fentanyl producers are a major source of the illicit opioids contributing to the U.S. opioid crisis. To ensure accountability, the sanctions legislation would pressure the Chinese government to move forward with an aggressive plan to enforce its announced new laws and provide the U.S. executive branch with flexible new sanction tools to go after actors, from manufacturers to traffickers, in China and other countries. Read more about the bill here.

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