Schumer moves to sanction China over fentanyl trafficking

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The U.S. would sanction China over fentanyl imports, under a new proposal Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to include in annual defense spending legislation.

The measure would deem fentanyl trafficking an “international emergency” and empower President Biden to impose economic penalties on China, Mexico and other countries where the synthetic opioid originates, Schumer said Sunday.

“For years, Chinese laboratories have been cooking up formulas of death and freely trafficking lethal fentanyl across New York and to many other places across America, where it is killing tens of thousands of people — and it has to stop,” he said in a statement.

“When it comes to taking genuine action to address this crisis, China continues to kick the can down the road while American lives are kicked to the curb, enveloped by addiction or cut all too short by tragedy,” the New York Democrat added.

He singled out China as “the world’s largest producer of illicit fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, and their immediate precursors,” which have ravaged New York City.

Fentanyl overdose deaths have been spiking citywide — from just under 1,500 such fatalities in 2019 to roughly 2,670 in 2021, according to a recent city report.

That year, 107,000 Americans died of overdoses, 65% of them caused by fentanyl, noted Schumer.

Last month, Attorney General Merrick Garland and New York prosecutors announced charges against four Chinese companies and eight employees accused of selling chemicals that go into fentanyl.

Schumer is proposing the FEND Off Fentanyl Act as part of annual defense spending that the Republican-controlled House passed last week. In their version of the legislation, GOP lawmakers attempted to gut military diversity programs, among other controversial steps, though they are not expected to pass in the Senate.

Schumer sought to present fentanyl trafficking as a bipartisan issue.

“We have a window of opportunity with the upcoming defense bill … that we cannot let close without having taken strong action,” he stated. “This bipartisan issue must be a major priority because too many lives have been lost and too many others are at stake, especially here in New York.”

With News Wire Services