Rep. Chris Smith, R-4th District, ranking member of the house global human rights subcommittee and Rep. Thomas Suozzi, D-3rd District, introduced legislation on Tuesday designed to bolster efforts to combat the opioid epidemic by cracking down on the production and import of fentanyl made in China.
“Chinese-made fentanyl is ending up on our streets and the human cost is real — over 29,000 overdose deaths in 2017 were fentanyl-related,” said Smith, who chaired a subcommittee hearing in September on the threat of Chinese-produced fentanyl.
“China is not doing enough to prevent its production and export to the U.S. My legislation sets up mechanisms by which the U.S. can enforce sanctions against Chinese officials and anyone there involved in this drug trade,” Smith said.
The Smith-Suozzi bill mandates the creation of a joint effort by the State and Treasury Departments to identify all Chinese government officials and persons involved in fentanyl production and trafficking into the U.S.
As a result, the U.S. government could use sanctions to hold individuals accountable who would be identified through this joint effort, such as under the Global Magnitsky Act that Smith helped shepherd into law in the 114th Congress.
In September, Smith chaired a hearing of the subcommittee on identifying and countering the threat of Chinese-produced fentanyl imported into the U.S. Officials from the State Department and Drug Enforcement Agency testified, along with a panel of private witnesses that included Ocean County prosecutor Joseph Coronato.
“What my hearing found, through the witness testimony, was that China was not doing enough to end this drug trade,” Smith said. “Although President Xi Jinping promised to President Trump at the G-20 Summit to crack down on the production of fentanyl, we have seen little tangible progress. We cannot allow this matter to become another Chinese empty promise — anyone involved in the production and trafficking of fentanyl must be held accountable.”