A group of Republican lawmakers introduced legislation this week to designate illicit fentanyl distribution as equivalent to a felony murder offense if it results in a death, according to a press release.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is leading the charge on the Senate side, revealing his intentions in a Fox News op-ed published Monday. In the House, Rep. Tony Gonzales from Texas is preparing companion legislation.
"Fentanyl is killing Americans at a record high. This deadly drug is widespread throughout our country and has left no community untouched. This bill would make drug dealers pay the price for selling deadly fentanyl," Rubio wrote in a statement.
Rubio is joined by a slate of notable Republican senators sponsoring his bill, including Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Rick Scott of Florida, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Rick Scott of Florida.
The proposed bill comes as fentanyl overdoses continue to grow exponentially, with nearly 13,000 more deaths in 2021 than a year before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl increased by over 56% from 2019 to 2020, with that number 18 times more than in 2013.
"Fentanyl is being smuggled through our southern border at record levels. Not only has this lethal drug led to thousands of American deaths, but cartels are now targeting our children and young people," Gonzales stated.
"With the Biden administration failing to resolve this national security crisis, it is time for Congress to take matters into its own hands," he added.
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