Editorial: Fighting fentanyl shouldn’t take budget back seat to solar panels

posted in: Society | 0

Not all crises are equal under the Biden Administration.

Climate change is top of mind on Capitol Hill, and government funding reflects this.

Joe Biden’s budget includes nearly $50 million for the Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technology Office to assist communities and low-income households in continuing to decrease the cost of installing rooftop solar and solar plus storage on homes across the country.

The battle against fentanyl, which claims tens of thousands of lives each year from overdoses, gets $40 million to fight trafficking and disrupt transnational criminal organizations.

If the White House has a good reason why a program to help people install solar panels gets a bigger slice of the budget than efforts to combat fentanyl trafficking, the American people would love to hear it.

Biden’s taken some heat for not doing enough to fight the scourge of fentanyl, but as Politico reported, he’s taking steps, announcing Tuesday increased sanctions targeting drug traffickers.

The White House issued a fact sheet, saying it will increase sanctions and other measures against targets to stymie drug traffickers’ access to the U.S. financial system and illicit financial flows.

Washington will build a global coalition to combat the illicit synthetic drug trade, the statement said, in an effort to “develop solutions, drive national actions, and create synergies and leverage among like-minded countries.”

We all know how well sanctions against Russia, issued by a coalition of countries, worked in getting Russia to back off its war plans for Ukraine.

How about pulling out the stops to increase the number of Customs and Border Patrol officers? The agency has been struggling with shortages, boosting funding to entice recruits is well worth the expense.

CBP already does yeoman’s work. In February, CBP officers in California intercepted the largest seizure in the history of the port with almost $1 million worth of fentanyl and methamphetamine at the Andrade Port of Entry. It was stashed in a pickup truck, found after officers used the port’s imaging system to screen the vehicle. We need more wins like this.

Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Washington reintroduced the Eradicating Narcotic Drugs and Formulating Effective New Tools to Address National Yearly Losses of Life (END FENTANYL) Act. The legislation would require the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to update its policies at least once every three years to ensure drug interdiction guidance is up to date. It builds off the 2019 GAO report, “Land Ports of Entry: CBP Should Update Policies and Enhance Analysis of Inspections,” that found drug interdiction guidance has not been updated in 20 years.

These are concrete ways to address fentanyl trafficking, and warrant concerted bipartisan efforts to enact such legislation.

Getting U.S. homes outfitted with solar panels is a nice idea, but dedicating more budget dollars to stopping the flow of a deadly drug that is wreaking havoc on American lives should the Biden Administration’s top priority.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.