WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor today in support of legislation to stop the flow of illegal synthetic opioids through international mail:
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Today there aren’t many who haven’t been touched by the opioid crisis in America. This swift and devastating epidemic has hurt every community in America and robbed countless individuals of their hopes and ambitions.
“Addiction is devastating to witness and, in some cases, it only takes 5 days for someone’s son, daughter or parent to become addicted. The sad truth is that all too often many become addicted after taking an opioid for a legitimate reason.
“This is an epidemic that has torn apart families and left in its path of destruction a generation of children without parents, and parents faced with burying their children.
“We have also seen more and more news stories of law enforcement agents having near-fatal encounters with just trace amounts of these synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. In one case, a small fleck almost killed a police officer in Ohio. This is a frightening reminder of how dangerous these substances are.
“The loss of so many Americans due to opioid addiction is unfathomable. In 2016 alone, more Americans died due to opioid overdoses than were lost over the entire Vietnam war. The scale of this crisis is immense. The loss of so much potential for so many is hard to comprehend, but House Republicans are fighting with every tool in our arsenal to combat the opioid crisis.
“That’s why today I rise in support of H.R. 5788, known as the STOP Act. This bipartisan bill addresses a serious problem that has helped fuel the opioid epidemic: cheap and illegal synthetic opioids, shipped from foreign nations through the international mail.
“In fact, every day powerful synthetic opioids are ordered online and then shipped from countries like China to the United States.
“The shipping method of choice for many of these illegal drugs has become the international mail – because it is the easiest way to ensure that they go undetected by law enforcement.
“Why? Because right now, international mail shipments by the Postal Service are not subject to the same advance data requirements that private carriers have had to meet for decades. This lack of data on postal shipments has created a significant vulnerability that allows synthetic opioids to be shipped into the United States with ease.
“This data is desperately needed by Customs and Border Protection to fight the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S.
“The STOP Act will help prevent opioids and other contraband from entering this country by imposing tough new requirements on the Postal Service and Customs and Border Protection to finally secure the international mail.
“The STOP Actwill require the Postal Service to transmit advance data to U.S. Customs and Border Protection on all international mail by 2020. And to ensure compliance, the STOP Act will establish civil penalties if the Postal Service accepts mail shipments without advance data after this date. It will also provide the Postal Service with leverage to negotiate with foreign postal services by requiring that it refuse shipments without advance data after 2020.
“The STOP Act will also direct the State Department to strengthen international postal agreements and to ensure that any future agreements preserve our ability to require advance data on all international mail shipments.
“In addition, it authorizes our agencies to create partnerships with foreign post offices – especially in small countries – to develop the capability to provide advance data.
“In closing, I want to thank Congressman Bishop – the author of this bill – for his leadership, as well as Subcommittee Chairman Reichert, Ranking Member Pascrell, Congressman John Faso, and Senator Portman for their work to deliver a hard-hitting solution to this very serious problem.
“I am confident that this bill will make a difference in the opioid crisis and help protect Americans. By passing this bill, we can take meaningful action to help stop the flow of synthetic opioids into this country.
“I urge my colleagues to join in supporting this bill.”