S. 706 would establish a penalty for foreign drug traffickers who have reasonable cause to believe that illegal drugs will be trafficked into the United States, allowing the Justice Department to go after Colombian drug kingpins who use Mexican gangs as intermediaries to ship cocaine into the U.S.

“Since drug cartels are continually evolving, this legislation ensures that our criminal laws keep pace.” Grassley said. “This legislation closes a loophole abused by drug traffickers who intend for drugs to end up in the United States but supply them through an intermediary.”

In addition, the bill applies penalties to foreign chemical producers that illegally ship chemicals into the U.S. knowing they will be used to make illegal drugs, such as pseudoephedrine, which is used for methamphetamine. 

Feinstein and Grassley’s bill would also make a technical correction to the Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act, which increased penalties for the trafficking of counterfeit drugs. The much-needed fix adds a “knowing” requirement so that U.S. pharmacists can be held criminally liable only if they knowingly sell counterfeit drugs. Under the bill that was signed into law by President Obama last year, a pharmacist could be charged with a federal felony for unknowingly selling counterfeit drugs. Feinstein said the “knowing” clause was unintentionally left out of the original bill last year.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampDemocrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  Overnight Finance: House passes sweeping tax bill in huge victory for GOP | Senate confirms banking regulator | Mulvaney eyed for interim head of consumer agency Overnight Regulation: Senators unveil bipartisan gun background check bill | FCC rolls back media regs | Family leave credit added to tax bill | Senate confirms banking watchdog MORE (D-N.D.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar taking over Franken's sexual assault bill Tech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny Facebook wants 'flexibility' in political advertising regs MORE (D-Minn.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Cybersecurity: Kushner was contacted about WikiLeaks before election | Tech experts blast Trump's 'extreme vetting' plan | Senate passes defense bill with measure to modernize feds' IT FCC rolls back media regulations in move that critics say benefits Sinclair Overnight Tech: Senate Dems want FCC chief recused from Sinclair merger | Tech rallies on Capitol Hill for DACA | Facebook beefs up lobbying ranks MORE (D-N.M.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCongress faces growing health care crisis in Puerto Rico Photos of the Week: Nov. 13-17 Senate panel approves GOP tax plan MORE (D-Ore.) are co-sponsoring the bill.