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, released the following statement announcing that the bipartisan DHS Opioid Detection Resilience Act, which she co-led alongside Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent, and is now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The legislation, which previously passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 393-1, 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.
“Our nation’s opioid epidemic has impacted the health of countless Americans,” said Senator Rosen. “I’m glad to see the Senate vote to support policies that reduce the flow of illegal substances into the United States. By providing law enforcement officers the tools needed to detect and identify dangerous synthetic opioids, we are taking a step toward reducing this epidemic, and better protecting the health of Americans.”
“We must give our U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents the technology they need to identify drugs like fentanyl and stem the flow of opioids across our border,” said Senator Cornyn. “I’m grateful to my colleagues for coming together on this legislation, which can help us end the opioid addiction crisis plaguing our communities.”
BACKGROUND: The bipartisan DHS Opioid Detection Resilience Act, introduced in the Senate by Rosen and Cornyn as S.3250 and in the House by Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY) as H.R.4761, requires 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.
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 to fight the opioid crisis.