WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is pushing lawmakers to approve a bipartisan bill that aims to combat the flow of fentanyl into the United States.
The Fentanyl Sanctions Act would allow new sanctions to target foreign opioid traffickers in China, Mexico and other countries and would aid United States officials in pressuring the Chinese government to strictly enforce its commitment to treat all forms of illicit fentanyl as illegal.
“On average, 14 Ohioans will die every day in my state due to an opioid overdose,” Brown said. “The addiction crisis has taken too many lives and caused too much devastation in Ohio. This new bill will add effective new sanctions tools to help combat the flood of illicit fentanyl coming in primarily from China and from Mexico and help provide intelligence and funding to keep these dangerous drugs out of Ohio communities.”
During a conference call with Brown on Wednesday afternoon, Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus said her county has seen a spike in overdose deaths in recent weeks, especially in the black community. She attributed the steep increase in overdoses to fentanyl being mixed with drugs such as crack cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
“We are seeing an alarming increase in overdose deaths in the African American community in Hamilton County,” Driehaus said. “According to the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition Task Force, four of six deaths the weekend of May 24 were African American and six of 11 people referred to the Quick Response Team last week were African American.”
While officials won’t be able to keep all drugs out of Ohio and the rest of the United States, Brown said, he hopes to make strides against illegal drugs similar to those made against tobacco use.
Brown has cosponsored the Fentanyl Sanctions Act along with Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.
During Wednesday’s conference call, Brown also said he and fellow Ohio Sen. Rob Portman met with General Motors CEO Mary Barra to push GM to invest in its Lordstown factory.
“GM owes these workers and local taxpayers who helped rescue the company when times were tough,” Brown said. “Lordstown is an award-winning plant, and GM should invest its massive tax windfall to bring a new product to the plant – so these workers can keep doing what they do better than anyone: build great cars. Sen. Portman and I will continue fighting for Lordstown.”
Brown wants GM to reinvest in the Lordstown plant, rehire workers who have been laid off and begin building electric vehicles there. The meeting with Barra wasn’t as productive as Brown had hoped for, however.
“We know GM can fill this plant, or mostly fill this plant, with thousands of jobs with an electric vehicle,” Brown said.
Brown also said he opposes tariffs President Donald Trump has imposed on countries such as Mexico. Republicans in Congress also oppose the tariffs, Brown said, but he isn’t sure they’ll act in defiance of the president.
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