House Unanimously Passes Joyce Bill to Protect Border Patrol Agents from Fentanyl
WASHINGTON, DC – Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) to protect U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents from dangerous illicit drugs, like fentanyl: H.R. 5274, the Prevent Exposure to Narcotics and Toxics (PREVENT) Act. The PREVENT Act passed unanimously by a vote of 429 to 0.
“The crisis at our southern border has exploded to unprecedented levels, and with it we’ve seen a shocking rise in the amount of fentanyl flowing into the United States,” said Joyce. “While those of us in Congress differ on how we believe the border crisis should be solved, last night’s vote showed that we can all agree that the men and women working to stop this lethal drug from reaching our communities deserve to be protected on the job. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting my bill to protect Border Patrol agents from fentanyl and urge the Senate to act quickly so those working to defend and maintain our borders can do their jobs as safely as possible.”
Thus far in Fiscal Year 2022, CBP officials have seized more than 7,000 pounds of fentanyl – enough to kill the entire U.S. population seven times over. The PREVENT Act would provide CBP’s frontline personnel with the tools and training necessary to prevent secondary exposure to this lethal drug amid these record-breaking seizures. Specifically, it would require the CBP Commissioner to issue containment devices to CBP personnel and provide training on their use. Containment devices are a critical tool that provide a secondary protection beyond PPE by creating a controlled, negative pressure environment to further reduce exposure to hazardous substances. These devices not only prevent exposure to fentanyl and other dangerous substances, but also better preserve chemical substances for forensic analysis and improve the efficacy of investigations.
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General issued a reportthat found CBP agents handling fentanyl were at risk and highlighted concerns that the drug was not being stored correctly, increasing the possibility of accidental exposure. As Congress already requires CBP to provide Narcan to all officers at risk of secondary exposure, Joyce is calling his legislation “a simple but necessary extension of the tools we provide those who defend our borders.”
Read the full bill text here. Watch Joyce speak on the House floor in favor of the bill here.