WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) and the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, announced the introduction of the DHS Opioid Detection Resilience Act. This bipartisan legislation, introduced alongside Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), would ensure that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) personnel have adequate chemical screening devices for synthetic opioid detection, and require DHS to develop a database to track newly identified synthetic opioids crossing U.S. borders.
“We must use forward-thinking strategies to reduce the flow of illegal substances into the United States to successfully combat our nation’s opioid epidemic,” said Senator Rosen. “This bipartisan legislation would ensure that U.S. Customs & Border Protection agents have up-to-date chemical screening equipment and information to detect and identify dangerous synthetic opioids coming across U.S. borders. I will continue to work with my colleagues on legislation that will give law enforcement the tools they need to help keep our country safe.”
“As our country continues to fight the opioid epidemic, we must do more to stop the supply of drugs coming across our border,” said Senator Cornyn. “This legislation would ensure U.S. Customs and Border Protection screening devices can detect low-purity drugs like fentanyl so we can help end this crisis, which has left thousands of broken families and devastated communities in its wake.”
BACKGROUND: The bipartisan DHS Opioid Detection Resilience Act would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to implement a strategy to ensure its chemical screening equipment can detect synthetic opioids with purity levels of 10% or less. In its National Drug Threat Assessment in 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration found that most fentanyl seized at the U.S. southwest border has a purity level under 10%. CBP agents use chemical screening devices to measure a substance’s spectrum and match it to samples in a database, which allows officers to rapidly identify suspected drugs in the field. The bill also requires DHS to develop a centralized database of newly identified synthetic opioids. Field detection devices are only as robust as the database that tracks newly discovered drugs so it is crucial for DHS to maintain a frequently updated library for its field agents to use. Last year, the House of Representatives passed companion legislation by a vote of 393-1.
In the House, then-Congresswoman Rosen fought for VA funding to combat the opioid epidemic and improve services for Nevada veterans. Rosen also voted for a bill that added over 3 billion dollars to fight the opioid crisis.