Marshall pressures social media platforms as well as CDC to battle fentanyl surge across border.
May Chastain suggested we do a series on fentanyl and methamphetamine “because the Border Patrol and regular citizens seem to find many of these drugs every day.”
I am so ready, as it appears that the covid pandemic is over.
To officially launch this series, I will turn to a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the government’s response to monkeypox last week. During the session, Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall (R) questioned why the government is focusing so much on monkeypox and less on the number of fentanyl deaths caused by drugs coming across the southern border.
On Wednesday during a U.S. Senate hearing, Marshall questioned Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about deterrents to consumption of illegal fentanyl. He asked her to recommend the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declare abuse of fentanyl a national public health emergency.
“Every day hundreds of Americans die from fentanyl poisoning,” Marshall said during the hearing devoted to monkeypox. “Why have you not declared this a public health emergency? Why have you not asked the Administration to shut down the border where 90% of this fentanyl comes from?”Walensky said CDC jurisdiction in terms of closing the border was limited to spread of communicable diseases rather than distribution of illegal drugs.
“You’re turning your back on fentanyl poisioning,” Marshall said. “More Americans have died from fentanyl poisioning than we lost in Vietnam.”
The exchange was intense.
Walensky responded that an emergency declaration would have to come from the Health and Human Services Secretary. Sec. Xavier Becerra declared such an emergency for monkeypox in early August. Marshall noted that Walensky could recommend that Becerra do the same for fentanyl.
“And we have had those conversations,” Walensky confirmed. Addressing Marshall’s question about a border shutdown, she noted that “our ability to shut down the border at the CDC level is related to communicable diseases,” not drug crises.
Marshall was not satisfied with that response.
…”What are we doing? What are we doing?” Marshall asked.”What are we doing? What are we doing?” Marshall asked.
Walensky replied by stating that the CDC is engaging in outreach and addressing mental health, “community violence,” as well as surveillance.
“But tons of fentanyl continue to cross the border,” Marshall said.
Marshall recently introduced a bipartisan bill named for a teenage overdose victim poisoned by fentanyl-laced Percocet.
The Cooper Davis Act recognizes that drug cartels responsible for fentanyl trafficking have set up distribution networks online using social media platforms.
The measure would require social media companies and other communication service providers to take on a more active role in working with federal agencies to combat the illegal sale and distribution of drugs on their platforms.
…Marshall and seven other Republican senators sent a letter to the CEOs of Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok last week, calling on them to identify the “steps [the] companies are taking to protect children and crackdown on illegal drug sales on [their] platforms” and “[recognize] the role [the] platforms play in the evolving illicit drug ecosystem.”
Given how responsive the CDC and social media platforms have been to the reasonable concerns of worried parents, I don’t anticipate the surge of fentanyl to be declared an emergency any time soon…at least, not before next January.DONATE
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