Congress must put politics aside


Nearly everyone in Ohio has a fentanyl story – it may be in your own family, it may be a neighbor, it may be a coworker. They’re stories of families torn apart. Of parents losing teenagers before they graduate high school. Of grandparents stepping in to raise grandchildren. We’ve all lost someone, or know someone who’s lost someone. It’s a crisis that cuts across all geographic lines, and certainly across all partisan divides.

Fentanyl is the culprit – and far too much of it comes across our southern border. I hear from Ohioans all across the state that we must take real action to secure the border and stop the flow of this deadly drug that is killing Ohioans and tearing families apart. I hear it from terrified parents and from overwhelmed law enforcement.

Ohioans want us to put politics aside and get something done that will take dramatic steps to secure the border and prevent fentanyl from reaching Ohio communities. They know that presidents of both parties have failed. The bipartisan deal unveiled last week is the kind of action Ohioans have been demanding for years.

The association of frontline Border Patrol agents supports this – the president of the National Border Patrol Council urged Congress to quickly pass this bill, and specifically pointed to the new authorities it would give agents to enforce the law.

It would make the border far more secure than it is now, and would take significant steps to target fentanyl trafficking. It puts in place a stricter, but fairer, asylum process, and would allow us to shut down illegal border crossings. This deal provides meaningful new ways to enforce our laws and ensure that our border is safer, more orderly – and more humane. This bill also gives law enforcement the resources and technology they need to keep our country safe and stop fentanyl from entering the U.S.

Among the most important new tools this deal would put in place are the new sanctions I’ve pushed for, to go after illicit fentanyl suppliers in China and Mexico. Last year, I introduced the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, which targets the entire fentanyl supply chain. China is the main source of precursor chemicals for illicit fentanyl – supplying the Mexican cartels who then traffic fentanyl into our country. Chinese entities also then help launder the money for the Mexican cartels.

I’ve been to the border in Texas with Ohio law enforcement. We saw firsthand the challenges that border patrol agents face in stopping these powerful Mexican cartels. They are billion-dollar operations that make their money from human and drug trafficking. Our bill goes directly after those billions. It imposes new economic sanctions and money laundering penalties to hit the cartels directly where it will have the biggest impact: their bank accounts.

One of the biggest frustrations Ohioans have with the border and the fentanyl crisis is the feeling that Washington has allowed politics to get in the way of solutions. The FEND Off Fentanyl Act has overwhelming bipartisan support. The only reason it’s not law today is because of political games. And now we are in danger of partisanship killing the best bipartisan border security plan in years.

The politicians attacking this bipartisan deal have no plan to secure the border. They have no solutions to stop the deadly fentanyl pouring into Ohio – only political talking points. Of course this deal is not perfect – no plan ever is. But the status quo at the southern border is unacceptable. This bill is a vast improvement on the current situation and would make our border far more secure and our country much safer.

When it comes to the border and the fentanyl crisis, Washington has failed over and over again. Ohioans cannot afford to wait any longer. The time for action is now – Congress needs to put politics aside and come together to protect our country and protect Ohioans from fentanyl.

Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.

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