Portman: “How Many More Americans Have to Die Before our Government Gets its Act Together”

WASHINGTON, D.C – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), in his role as Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) during the hearing on stopping illicit drugs from being shipped into the United States, asked a simple question: “How many more Americans have to die before our government gets its act together?”  More and more Americans are dying every year because of the heroin and opioid epidemic, and now the influx of deadly synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil.  Portman’s Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Actsupported by Customs and Border Protection, would help provide law enforcement the tools it needs to be able to better detect packages that are coming from countries like China that contain these deadly drugs, and therefore help save lives.

Transcript can be found below and a video can be found here

I agree with what my colleagues are saying that we’re not moving fast enough and let me give you a specific example of this. There was a letter sent in April of 2016 more than a year ago to this committee. In that letter it said ‘the plan to expand the JFK pilot program with China to Los Angeles International Airport is currently scheduled for the summer of 2016.’ We’re now in the summer of 2017. Has it expanded? No. It has not. The UPU we’ve heard today about what’s going to happen with regard to the Universal Postal Union and with all due respect to our international partners and the UPU, will it get done by 2018, 2020, or even 2022? They keep pushing it back with respect to advance electronic data.

“So, look, if we didn’t have a crisis in this country we could kind of go along with normal routine which was, as was said earlier, and I quote, ‘other countries are working on their own timetables.’ We can’t afford to have them working on their own timetables because our people are dying. And I guess the question I would ask this morning is how many more Americans have to die before our government gets its act together to make sure that the pilot is working, to make sure that it is expanding as it was promised and has not occurred, and make sure that we’re actually doing everything we can to keep this poison out of our communities.

“Admittedly this is not the silver bullet, there is not one silver bullet. And I’m going to steal a line from the Ranking Member who said there are a lot of silver BBs. This is one of them. And every one of you has acknowledged that today. So, my hope is that because of this hearing, we’ll be able to move more quickly on this issue and we’ll be able to get this legislation passed to give you the additional authority I think you need, to have as Mr. Perez said rightly ‘the tools,’ just the tools to be able to identify the right packages, to go after them, to stop some of this poison and also to increase the cost on the street. Because right now this stuff is so cheap and so deadly that it’s killing more and more people.”