WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have called on leaders in the Senate to ensure their bipartisan, bicameral legislation to protect frontline border patrol agents from fentanyl remains in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2023.
Their bill, the Prevent Exposure to Narcotics and Toxins (PREVENT) Act, would provide drug containment devices to border patrol agents and provide training on their proper use to keep our law enforcement officials safe as they work to protect our borders. While the PREVENT was included in the House-passed NDAA, the lawmakers are requesting that the final version of the bill that gets sent to the President’s desk also include the legislation.
“In Fiscal Year 2022, CBP officials seized more than 7,000 pounds of fentanyl, which could kill every single American seven times over,” the lawmakers wrote. “Our bipartisan legislation would help ensure frontline agents can prevent secondary exposure…These containment devices help to provide another layer of protection for agents beyond PPE by reducing any possible exposure through creating a controlled environment. These devices also help better preserve chemical substances for later forensic analysis, while also improving the success of investigations.”
Last year marked a horrifying milestone in our nation’s ongoing addiction crisis: over 108,000 Americans lost their lives to an opioid overdose. As record levels of fentanyl enter the United States, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and other federal law enforcement are tasked with the monumental challenge of intercepting these drugs before they enter our communities. In 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General issued a report that 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.
The House unanimously passed Joyce’s PREVENET Act in July, prior to it being included in the House-passed NDAA. You can read the bill text here. You can read the lawmakers’ letter here.