Press Release

In Poughkeepsie, Gillibrand Calls For Passage Of The Fend Off Fentanyl Act 

Mar 2, 2024

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stood with local leaders and law enforcement at the Dutchess County Law Enforcement Center to call for the passage of the Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act, bipartisan legislation that would empower the U.S. government to go after the cartels bringing dangerous drugs into the country and help fight the opioid epidemic. In mid-February, the Senate passed the FEND Off Fentanyl Act as part of a bipartisan national security supplemental package, but the bill has stalled in the House. Now, Senator Gillibrand is calling on Speaker Mike Johnson and House Republicans to take action immediately against the drug producers and traffickers devastating our communities. 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and cannot be detected by taste, smell, or sight when mixed with other drugs. In 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized over 386,000,000 deadly doses of fentanyl across the U.S. – enough to supply a lethal dose to every American.

Gillibrand was joined by U.S. Congressman Pat Ryan, a House cosponsor of the FEND Off Fentanyl Act; Dutchess County Executive Sue Serino; City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Yvonne Flowers; New York State Senator Robert Rolison; New York State Assemblywoman Didi Barrett; New York State Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson; Dutchess County District Attorney Anthony Parisi; Captain John Watterson of the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office; and Michael Balles, Agency Director of the Council on Addiction Prevention & Education of Dutchess County.

No community has been left untouched by the opioid epidemic. In 2022, the DEA seized enough deadly doses of fentanyl in New York for more than three times the state’s population, and just a few weeks ago, officials indicted seven people right here in Dutchess County for selling counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The bipartisan FEND Off Fentanyl Act is a critical piece of legislation that will help us target both the cartels and the individuals involved in producing and trafficking these dangerous drugs. It will empower the government to sanction drug traffickers and combat money laundering schemes that make this trade profitable. I was proud to help get this bill passed in the Senate, and today, I’m calling on Republicans in the House to pass it as well. We have lost too many lives to the fentanyl crisis and we have to do everything in our power to fight it.”

“Illicit fentanyl is wreaking havoc on Hudson Valley families and laying waste to lives across the country,” said Congressman Ryan. “Time and time again – from the bipartisan border security bill, to passing an actual budget, to now saving lives from fentanyl overdoses – we’ve seen the GOP-led House under Mike Johnson and Elise Stefanik’s leadership reject real and ready solutions to the crises facing our nation. They’re letting their own intra-party chaos and dysfunction, stoked by Donald Trump, get in the way of helping Hudson Valley families. Cracking down on fentanyl traffickers shouldn’t be controversial, it’s common sense – our country needs a vote on this now.”

“Too many families are sadly still losing loved ones to overdoses, with most involving fentanyl. Our Dutchess County Drug Task Force is working overtime to get these deadly drugs off our streets and out of our community, and I have been proud to support their work by expanding their resources, but it is a daunting challenge as drug cartels and criminals continue to expand their trafficking operations. Federal action is necessary to stop this deadly surge and we thank Senator Gillibrand for her support of this bipartisan legislation to stop these criminals and end this epidemic,” said Dutchess County Executive Sue Serino.

“I commend Senator Gillibrand for her unrelenting efforts to address the fentanyl crisis that has plagued our communities, including in the City of Poughkeepsie. The trafficking of fentanyl and related opioids is a menace, and no community is safe, as we were recently reminded through the takedown of a gun trafficking network that also distributed counterfeit oxycodone pills containing deadly amounts of fentanyl right here in Dutchess County,” said City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Yvonne Flowers. “Senator Gillibrand is fighting on behalf of those who have lost loved ones and for those who might otherwise fall victim to these sinister practices that prey on vulnerable people.”

“The overdose crisis doesn’t respect political or geographic boundaries. Fentanyl is a scourge tearing through our communities that needs to be stopped,” said New York State Senator Robert Rolison (39th District). “I’m proud to partner with our federal counterparts like Senator Gillibrand to confront this problem head-on and offer real solutions to protect New Yorkers and punish the cartels spreading poison. This legislation will be an effective public safety tool for our brave law enforcement and drug-interdiction services and on behalf of our Hudson Valley residents I’m eager to support it.”

“Combatting the fentanyl epidemic needs to be a top priority, as it jeopardizes public safety and destroys families. In the past, Dutchess County has led New York State in overdose deaths per capita and unfortunately 2023 appears to be no different. In 2023, 111 people in Dutchess County died as a result of dangerous drug overdoses and there were more than 300 non-fatal overdoses. My office through the Dutchess County Drug Task Force and with all our partners in law enforcement work tirelessly to combat this epidemic but we need all the help we can get. I commend Senator Gillibrand for recognizing the crisis we are in and I support this legislation. We must act now and do whatever we can to protect our communities from succumbing to the lethality of this poison,” said Dutchess County District Attorney Anthony Parisi.

The majority of illegal fentanyl entering the United States is made with Chinese precursor chemicals and manufactured in Mexico. This bill will empower the U.S. government to go after the cartels bringing these dangerous drugs into the United States and those producing and shipping the precursor materials. It also enhances sanctions enforcement and gives the Treasury Department tools to combat fentanyl-related money laundering. 

Specifically, the FEND Off Fentanyl Act would: 

  1. Declare the international trafficking of fentanyl a national emergency.
  2. Require the president to sanction transnational criminal organizations and drug cartels’ key members engaged in international fentanyl trafficking.
  3. Enable the president to use proceeds of forfeited, sanctioned property of fentanyl traffickers to further law enforcement efforts.
  4. Enhance the ability to enforce sanctions violations, making it more likely that people who defy U.S. law will be caught and prosecuted.
  5. Require the administration to report to Congress on actions the U.S. government is taking to reduce the international trafficking of fentanyl and related opioids.
  6. Allow the Treasury Department to utilize special measures to combat fentanyl-related money laundering.
  7. Require the Treasury Department to prioritize fentanyl-related suspicious transactions and include descriptions of drug cartels’ financing actions in Suspicious Activity Reports.

This legislation is cosponsored by Senators Brown (D-OH), Wicker (R-MS), Reed (D-RI), Vance (R-OH), Tester (D-MT), Lummis (R-WY), Sinema (I-AZ), Britt (R-AL), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Kennedy (R-LA), Fetterman (D-PA), Hagerty (R-TN), Smith (D-MN), Menendez (D-NJ), Risch (R-ID), Van Hollen (D-MD), Moran (R-KS), Warner (D-VA), Daines (R-MT), Hassan (D-NH), Crapo (R-ID), Shaheen (D-NH), Collins (R-ME), Heinrich (D-NM), Braun (R-IN), Rosen (D-NV), Ernst (R-IA), Casey (D-PA), Cramer (R-ND), Baldwin (D-WI), Rounds (R-SD), Kelly (D-AZ), Capito (R-WV), King (I-ME), Scott (R-FL), Whitehouse (D-RI), Budd (R-NC), Tillis (R-NC), Manchin (D-WV), Cassidy (R-LA), Cornyn (R-TX), Wyden (D-OR), Schmitt (R-MO), Kaine (D-VA), Lankford (R-OK), Boozman (R-AR), Padilla (D-CA), Blumenthal (D-CT), Thune (R-SD), Peters (D-MI), Rubio (R-FL), Stabenow (D-MI), Sullivan (R-AK), Schatz (D-HI), Ricketts (R-NE), Klobuchar (D-MN), Blackburn (R-TN), Markey (D-MA), Hickenlooper (D-CO), Barrasso (R-WY), Graham (R-SC), Bennet (D-CO), Booker (D-NJ), Romney (R-UT), Cantwell (D-WA), Butler (D-CA), and Ossoff (D-GA).