Later this week, the Senate is expected to vote on Senator Portman’s Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act legislation as part of a broader opioid package.  This morning the New York Times highlighted the bill, which will help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl from being shipped from countries like China to drug traffickers here in the U.S. through our own Postal Service: 

“The Senate appears poised this week to pass a bill intended to shut a window through which fentanyl and other opioids pour into the United States from China through the mail, as lawmakers search desperately for ways to combat an epidemic affecting people of all ages and income levels across the country. 

“The measure, part of a bipartisan package of legislation to fight the opioid crisis, requires the United States Postal Service to collect electronic information on merchandise arriving in this country, so customs inspectors can screen parcels for fentanyl and other contraband. Commercial carriers like FedEx, United Parcel Service and DHL are already required to provide such information. 

“‘We are being overrun with fentanyl,’ said Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, who led an 18-month study of the illicit imports as chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. ‘It is 50 times more powerful than heroin. It is very inexpensive. It is coming primarily from China and coming primarily through our U.S. Postal Service, if you can believe it.’” 

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), which Portman chairs, conducted an 18-month investigation into this issue and released a shocking bipartisan report detailing how drug traffickers exploit vulnerabilities in our international mail system to easily ship synthetic drugs like fentanyl from China into the United States though the U.S. Postal Service. The STOP Act will close the loophole that has allowed this to happen by holding the U.S. Postal Service to the same screening standard as private mail carriers and requiring them to provide Advance Electronic Data on international packages entering the U.S. This will allow law enforcement to identify suspicious packages, stop them in transit, test them, and keep more fentanyl from entering our communities.  

The bill has already been passed by the House of Representatives in an overwhelming bipartisan vote.  Portman recently wrote an op-ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer about how this bill “will save lives and help turn the tide of addiction.” 

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