Democrats and Republicans Just Worked Together (!) to Make Progress on the Opioid Epidemic

A new law will crack down on foreign fentanyl.

President Trump signs the INTERDICT Act/White House

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

On Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump signed bipartisan legislation that will appropriate funds to buy machines that identify packages containing fentanyl, an opioid up to 100 times more powerful than morphine that is driving the overdose epidemic.

The new law, called the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act, authorizes $9 million for Customs and Border Patrol to buy and man high-tech scanners that can quickly detect fentanyl and its many variations without requiring that packages be opened.

While most heroin in the United States comes from Mexico, the bulk of fentanyl is illicitly manufactured in China and sent in the mail, either directly to the United States or to Mexico, where it is mixed with the drugs before making its way north. Because the drug is so potent, it is deadly in small doses and easy to conceal. 

Drug surveillance, rather than an $18 billion wall, is “real border protection,” said Paul Tencher, chief of staff for Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who authored the senate legislation. Tencher noted that the legislation seems to be one of the few agreements between congressional democrats, who are pushing for increased federal funding for addiction treatment and research, and the president, who has so far failed to deliver promises to devote resources to the epidemic.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.