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Tester's bills targeting fentanyl trafficking sent to Biden

by KATE HESTON
Daily Inter Lake | December 22, 2022 12:00 AM

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester said this week that the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act includes key provisions to support law enforcement and combat illicit fentanyl trafficking, a part of Tester’s continued push to remove the drug from the streets.

“Fentanyl is a huge problem,” Tester, D-Montana, told the Inter Lake this week. “It’s something that we need to try and get our arms around very, very quickly.”

The defense authorization bill, overwhelmingly approved by the Senate last week, includes provisions from multiple acts regarding illegal drugs.

The first, Tester’s Protecting America’s Borders Against Fentanyl Act, requires that the Department of Homeland Security, as well as other agencies, research technologies to target fentanyl, specifically as it comes over a border. According to Tester, fentanyl often travels into the U.S. through cars and trucks, so developing technology that can detect the drug inside a vehicle would be beneficial.

The legislation also requires the Office of National Drug Control Policy to further develop strategies to effectively evaluate goals specific to different regions to limit drug trafficking.

“If we can get technology that works on any border, we are going to put it on every border,” Tester said.

As previously reported by the Inter Lake, Tester urged congressional leadership in a November press call to attach his Protecting America’s Borders Against Fentanyl Act.

Further, provisions from Tester’s PREVENTS Act, the second act sent to the President’s desk, also passed through the NDAA. This act directs the department to purchase containment devices to store illicit narcotics. According to Tester, this is essential because it will prevent agents from getting sick or dying in the line of duty.

The bills now head to President Biden’s desk after provisions from both acts were included in the NDAA. Biden has indicated he is going to sign the legislation, which will be a “positive thing for law enforcement, young people, and everybody,” Tester said.

The senator added that these bills and the NDAA will not be the end of the conversation. He wants to look for additional solutions, especially on the southern border, where Tester believes the Biden administration hasn’t done enough to limit drug trafficking.

A Department of Justice report in August notes that 60% of the fentanyl seized around the entire country was found at the U.S.-Mexico border crossings in Southern California.

Reporter Kate Heston can be reached at kheston@dailyinterlake.com