U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer revealed his determined stance on taking action against China over the production of synthetic opioid fentanyl, announcing his push to include a bipartisan amendment in the upcoming defense policy legislation. Speaking at a news conference in New York, Schumer firmly held China responsible for the grave consequences of fentanyl in the United States, which have tragically led to tens of thousands of overdose deaths.
Schumer Push to Sanction China Over Fentanyl
Blaming the Chinese government for its alleged involvement in the production of fentanyl, Schumer emphasized that the drug originates from China with their explicit acceptance and acquiescence. To address this critical issue, he plans to introduce a crucial amendment, crafted collaboratively by Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown and Republican Senator Tim Scott, aimed at imposing sanctions on China.
Schumer confidently stated that the proposed bipartisan amendment is designed to empower legislation that will put a halt to fentanyl trafficking, with the goal of garnering robust support from both sides of the aisle. He expressed hope and conviction that the amendment will successfully pass, asserting that it must receive unanimous backing.
However, immediate comments from the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. were not available. Previously, Beijing has accused the U.S. of utilizing the fentanyl crisis as an excuse to impose sanctions on Chinese companies. The Chinese government has also extended an offer to collaborate with other nations in addressing drug-related problems.
According to Schumer, the amendment will grant the White House the authority to declare fentanyl trafficking a national emergency, thereby paving the way for imposing sanctions. The senator asserted that these measures will apply significant pressure on China to effectively address the issue and prevent further fentanyl shipments to the United States.
The legislation introduced by Senators Brown and Scott outlines a plan to sanction key members of international criminal organizations engaged in fentanyl trafficking. Furthermore, it allows the proceeds from the sanctioned properties to be allocated to fund law enforcement activities.
The fiscal year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is set to be debated in the Democratic-led Senate, commencing on Tuesday. However, this year’s journey to pass the legislation is expected to be notably contentious due to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives’ inclusion of amendments related to “culture war” issues, including abortion and transgender services, which Democrats oppose.
Despite the potential hurdles, the Senate is anticipated to pass its version of the NDAA this month, initiating negotiations with the House to reach a compromise on the final bill. The final version would then undergo voting in both chambers later this year. Schumer’s determined bipartisan push for the amendment targeting China adds yet another layer of complexity to the already significant challenges in securing the NDAA’s passage.