WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Lawmakers say most of the illegal synthetic drug fentanyl that has killed so many Americans is manufactured in and smuggled into the U.S. from China. The country has promised to crack down on the producers and smugglers, but lawmakers aren’t willing to rely on Chinese promises.
Over the past 20 years, deaths from these drugs have increased six-fold.
Republican Sen. Patrick Toomey, of Pennsylvania, the Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and others have joined together to sponsor the Fentanyl Sanctions Act.
It would put pressure on the Chinese government to follow through and stop the deadly flow of fentanyl into the U.S. at its source or face economic sanctions.
“Fentanyl has been absolutely devastating to the state of Pennsylvania,” Toomey said.
He wants the illegal drug off the streets.
“In Pennsylvania, 70% of all fatal drug overdoses, the victim has some amount of fentanyl in their system,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fentanyl has claimed the lives of more than 28,000 Americans since 2017.
“We know exactly where this drug is coming from. China,” Schumer said.
He said that’s why lawmakers have introduced the Fentanyl Sanctions Act.
“First-ever legislation to give broad and powerful sanction tools to the administration to target illicit fentanyl producers.”
Lawmakers say the legislation would go after China — and any country — that does not crack down on producers and traffickers of the deadly drug.
“Impose sanctions on entities that are, really, in any way significantly involved in the production, financing or distribution of fentanyl,” Toomey said.
“For one simple reason and that is the people who are doing this — that are manufacturing this and handing it off to traffickers — are making a lot of money,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R – Florida).
The lawmakers are encouraged that this time, China will comply.
“The Chinese government announced, consistent with our demands, China is now going to ban the entire class, the entire category. So all of fentanyl,” Toomey said.
He said China’s promise, along with the potential sanctions of this legislation, might help loosen the deadly grip of the drug on our nation.