Lawmakers readying bipartisan bills to authorize Pentagon resources to combat fentanyl: report

Lawmakers readying bipartisan bills to authorize Pentagon resources to combat fentanyl: report

This story has been updated.

Lawmakers in the United States House of Representatives and Senate are preparing bipartisan pieces of legislation that would authorize Pentagon resources to target drug cartels in Mexico, according to exclusive interviews with Senate Armed Services Committee members Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) published in The Washington Examiner on Tuesday.

Fentanyl is a leading cause of death in Americans aged 18 to 45 — which is why potentially deploying American military assets against its distributors is gaining traction on Capitol Hill.

The Disrupt Fentanyl Trafficking Act would establish the deadly synthetic opioid as a national security threat and enable congresspersons "to use their oversight authority of the Department of Defense to force the federal government to take stronger actions against Mexican transnational criminal organizations," the paper explained. It also "would require the Pentagon to develop a fentanyl-specific counterdrug strategy, including how to work directly with the Mexican military and to increase security operations with Mexico."

READ MORE: 'Time to reverse course': NYT Editorial Board endorses ending the War on Drugs

"The amount of lives lost in Iowa and across the country due to this deadly drug has far surpassed the federal government's response, and we must scale immediately to combat this national security threat," Ernst said. "This bipartisan work will engage Mexico as an active partner to counter fentanyl trafficking and put the Pentagon’s tools to use to save American lives."

Kaine agreed, telling the outlet that "If we want to prevent future tragedies, the United States must work with Mexico to counter fentanyl trafficking across our southern border. This bipartisan, commonsense bill would help us create the strongest strategy for how to do that."

Earnst and Kaine stressed to the Examiner that enlisting Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his administration "as an equal partner in the war on fentanyl is critical, given the southern neighbor has failed to get a hold of the problem over the past five years."

The House's version of the proposal is co-sponsored by Representatives Stephanie Bice (R-Oklahoma) and Salud Carbajal (D-California).

READ MORE: How complicit governments support the drug trade

The Washington Examiner's report continues here.

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