WASHINGTON D.C. (WOIO) - U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown's bipartisan bill to keep illegal fentanyl out of the country unanimously passed the Senate Thursday. The bill will now go to the President's desk, where he is expected to sign it into law.
Brown brought the bill up for a vote in the Senate a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that in 2016, Ohio had the second rate of drug overdose deaths in the country.
"Americans are dying in record numbers. Life expectancy in our country, I believe in the first time in the lifetimes of any of us, life expectancy actually dropped in our country for the first time think about that," Brown said on the floor of the Senate Thursday.
The bill, called the INTERDICT Act, will provide Customs and Border Protection $15 million for hundreds of new drug detection devices, lab equipment, facilities, and employees to help in the effort to identify and stop fentanyl, and other synthetic opioids, from coming into the country.
"Ohioans are dying from overdoses at the second highest rate in the country. Families are being torn apart. Children are losing parents. Parents are losing sons and daughters. And we know fentanyl is one of the main culprits," said Brown. "I urge President Trump to sign our bipartisan bill into law immediately, so we can give law enforcement the tools they need to keep this drug out of Ohio and off our streets."
Earlier this week, the national Fraternal Order of Police sent a letter supporting the act to Senate leaders.
Chuck Canterbury, the President of the FOP wrote that the additional resources that the bill would provide would allow Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to "be better equipped on all fronts to thwart the deadly flow or synthetic opiates across our borders."
U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) also supports the bill.
The bill will provide more portable chemical screening devices at ports and mail facilities, and will also provide fixed chemical screening devices available in CBP laboratories.
CBP will also receive resources and personnel, including scientists available 24 hours a day, who will be able to interpret results from the field. The goal of the bill is to stop the illegal flow of synthetic opioids and to also help prevent agent exposure to dangerous drugs.