The Fentanyl Failure
THE WASHINGTON POST
MARCH 13, 2019
By Scott Higham, Sari Horwitz and Katie Zezima
But for years, Congress didn’t provide significant funding to combat fentanyl or the larger opioid epidemic. U.S. Customs and Border Protection didn’t have enough officers, properly trained dogs or sophisticated equipment to curb illegal fentanyl shipments entering the country from China and Mexico. The U.S. Postal Service didn’t require electronic monitoring of international packages, making it difficult to detect parcels containing fentanyl ordered over the Internet from China. CDC data documenting fentanyl overdoses lagged events on the ground by as much as a year, obscuring the real-time picture of what was happening. Facing hotly contested midterm elections in 2018, Congress finally passed legislation aimed at addressing the increasingly politicized opioid crisis, including a measure to force the Postal Service to start tracking international packages.
“How many people had to die before Congress stood up and did the right thing with regard to telling our own Post Office you have to provide better screening?” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), sponsor of the legislation, asked on the Senate floor last fall.