Passing the “Fend Off Fentanyl Act” Will Save Lives

POUGHKEEPSIE – Congressman Pat Ryan joined with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, New York State Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, New York State Senator Rob Rolison, Dutchess County Executive Sue Serino and Poughkeepsie Mayor Yvonne Flowers in demanding House Speaker Mike Johnson hold a vote on the bipartisan “FEND Off Fentanyl Act.” The bill already passed the Senate in February, but is now getting held up by the chaos and dysfunction that has become commonplace in the House of Representatives under Mike Johnson’s leadership; he has failed to even schedule a vote on the legislation. The bill would crackdown on the flow of illicit fentanyl into the United States and sanction foreign traffickers.

“Illicit fentanyl is wreaking havoc on Hudson Valley families and laying waste to lives across the country,” said Congressman Ryan. “Time and time again – from the bipartisan border security bill, to passing an actual budget, to now saving lives from fentanyl overdoses – we’ve seen the GOP-led House under Mike Johnson and Elise Stefanik’s leadership reject real and ready solutions to the crises facing our nation. They’re letting their own intra-party chaos and dysfunction, stoked by Donald Trump, get in the way of helping Hudson Valley families. Cracking down on fentanyl traffickers shouldn’t be controversial, it’s common sense – our country needs a vote on this now.”

“No community has been left untouched by the opioid epidemic. In 2022, the DEA seized enough deadly doses of fentanyl in New York for more than three times the state’s population, and just a few weeks ago, officials indicted seven people right here in Dutchess County for selling counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl,” said Senator Gillibrand.

“The bipartisan FEND Off Fentanyl Act is a critical piece of legislation that will help us target both the cartels and the individuals involved in producing and trafficking these dangerous drugs. It will empower the government to sanction drug traffickers and combat money laundering schemes that make this trade profitable. I was proud to help get this bill passed in the Senate, and today, I’m calling on my Republican colleagues in the House to pass it as well. We have lost too many lives to the fentanyl crisis and we have to do everything in our power to fight it.”

“Too many families are sadly still losing loved ones to overdoses, with most involving fentanyl. Our Dutchess County Drug Task Force is working overtime to get these deadly drugs off our streets and out of our community, and I have been proud to support their work by expanding their resources, but it is a daunting challenge as drug cartels and criminals continue to expand their trafficking operations,” said Dutchess County Executive Sue Serino. “Federal action is necessary to stop this deadly surge and we thank Senator Gillibrand for her support of this bipartisan legislation to stop these criminals and end this epidemic.”

“I commend Senator Gillibrand for her unrelenting efforts to address the fentanyl crisis that has plagued our communities, including in the City of Poughkeepsie. The trafficking of fentanyl and related opioids is a menace, and no community is safe, as we were recently reminded through the takedown of a gun trafficking network that also distributed counterfeit oxycodone pills containing deadly amounts of fentanyl right here in Dutchess County,” said City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Yvonne Flowers. “Senator Gillibrand is fighting on behalf of those who have lost loved ones and for those who might otherwise fall victim to these sinister practices that prey on vulnerable people.”

“The overdose crisis doesn’t respect political or geographic boundaries. Fentanyl is a scourge tearing through our communities that needs to be stopped,” said New York State Senator Robert Rolison (39th District). “I’m proud to partner with our federal counterparts like Senator Gillibrand to confront this problem head-on and offer real solutions to protect New Yorkers and punish the cartels spreading poison. This legislation will be an effective public safety tool for our brave law enforcement and drug-interdiction services and on behalf of our Hudson Valley residents I’m eager to support it.”

“Combatting the fentanyl epidemic needs to be a top priority, as it jeopardizes public safety and destroys families. In the past, Dutchess County has led New York State in overdose deaths per capita and unfortunately 2023 appears to be no different. In 2023, 111 people in Dutchess County died as a result of dangerous drug overdoses and there were more than 300 non-fatal overdoses,” said Dutchess County District Attorney Anthony Parisi. “My office through the Dutchess County Drug Task Force and with all our partners in law enforcement work tirelessly to combat this epidemic but we need all the help we can get. I commend Senator Gillibrand for recognizing the crisis we are in and I support this legislation. We must act now and do whatever we can to protect our communities from succumbing to the lethality of this poison.”

Congressman Ryan is a cosponsor of the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, which passed in the Senate as part of the bipartisan national security supplemental. In February, Congressman Ryan wrote a letter to Speaker Johnson and Republican Conference Chair Elise Steganik, urging them to hold a vote on the supplemental bill in the House of Representatives.

If passed by the House and signed into law by President Biden, the Act would crackdown on the flow of illicit fentanyl into the United States and sanction foreign traffickers by:
* Declaring international trafficking of fentanyl a national emergency
* Sanctioning key members of drug cartels engaged in international fentanyl trafficking
* Enabling the President to use proceeds of forfeited property of fentanyl traffickers to further law enforcement efforts
* Require financial institutions to take measures to disrupt money laundering in connection with fentanyl trafficking
* Requiring reports on the actions the federal government is taking to reduce the international trafficking of fentanyl and related opioids

Congressman Ryan has amassed a record of combating the fentanyl crisis and delivering resources for local law enforcement to root out illicit drugs from Hudson Valley communities. He recently secured $400,000 for Ulster County’s ORACLE crisis intervention team to battle the drug addiction epidemic and $125,000 for Warwick Valley Prevention Coalition programming to prevent youth drug use in Warwick schools.

Congressman Ryan introduced the Public Safety and Community Support Act to allow funds to help law enforcement officers combat substance use disorder and address untreated mental health issues in the community, including through pre-arrest diversion programs for those suffering from substance use disorder.

Congressman Ryan has made repeated calls for increased funding to fight fentanyl trafficking across the southern border and within communities, including demanding that $800 million be included in H.R. 2, the border bill passed by House Republicans that had no measures to secure the border against fentanyl trafficking. Congressman Ryan also cosponsors the Stop Chinese Fentanyl Act, the END FENTANYL Act, and the Disarming Cartels Act.

Congressman Ryan sits on the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force and recently attended the graduation ceremony at the Newburgh Veterans Drug Treatment Court. He cosponsors additional legislation to fight drug addiction within the veterans and military communities.

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