Synthetic forms of heroin have flooded Midwestern communities and taken lives at unprecedented and tragic rates.
We now have an opportunity to make significant progress to help combat the influx of fentanyl — the deadliest killer in this crisis.
This week, the House of Representatives passed the STOP Act, a bipartisan bill we authored that will help keep more synthetic drugs like fentanyl from being shipped into the U.S., and a Senate committee approved the bill, moving it to the Senate floor where we hope it will soon have a vote.
Unlike other drugs that are mostly smuggled over land, most illegal fentanyl is manufactured in laboratories in China and transported into the U.S. through a federal agency — the U.S. Postal Service.
Fentanyl manufacturers and distributors prefer the Postal Service because — unlike private carriers like UPS, FedEx and DHL — the Postal Service is not required to get what is called advance electronic data on international packages entering the U.S. This information provides additional data, such as where a package is from, where it is going and what it contains. Law enforcement needs this information to identify suspicious packages, test them, and seize them if they contain illegal drugs.
The STOP Act will hold the Postal Service to the same standard as private carriers, close this loophole and give law enforcement the tools they need — and are asking for — to keep more fentanyl out of the U.S.
The STOP Act alone won’t solve this epidemic, but it will help. We know where most fentanyl is coming from, and we know how it is being transported into our country. This is an opportunity for Congress to give law enforcement a significant tool to combat this crisis. We don’t have time to wait. We need to enact the STOP Act to keep more fentanyl out of our communities and help turn the tide of addiction in our country.
Rob Portman is a United States senator from Ohio. Mike Bishop represents Michigan’s 8th congressional district.