Trump signs bipartisan bill to combat synthetic opioids

Trump signs bipartisan bill to combat synthetic opioids
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE signed a bipartisan bill Wednesday aimed at stopping powerful synthetic opioids from coming into the country illegally.

A group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers attended the bill signing, a rare showing of bipartisanship with members of both parties seeking to show their support for tackling the issue.

The opioid epidemic has been ravaging the country, and the rates of overdose deaths from synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl — which can be 50 more times potent than heroin — more than doubled from 2015 to 2016.

Vice President Pence stood behind Trump for the bill signing. The president was flanked by a gathering of other lawmakers including Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoSenate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit Lots of love: Charity tennis match features lawmakers teaming up across the aisle Senate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs MORE (R-W.Va.), Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDemocrats slam Trump for considering Putin’s ’absurd’ request to question Americans Hillicon Valley: Mueller indicts Russians for DNC hack | US officially lifts ZTE ban | AT&T CEO downplays merger challenge | Microsoft asks for rules on facial recognition technology | Dems want probe into smart TVs Dems push FTC to investigate smart TVs over privacy concerns MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanNew Hampshire governor signs controversial voting bill Conway takes aim at congressional intern who yelled 'f--- you' at Trump Fox's Regan defends CNN's Acosta, calls for civility: 'What has happened to us?' MORE (D-N.H.) and Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulHillicon Valley: EU hits Google with record B fine | Trump tries to clarify Russia remarks | Sinclair changing deal to win over FCC | Election security bill gets traction | Robocall firm exposed voter data Overnight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart A change is coming to US-Mexico relations MORE (R-Texas), among others.

The bill, called the Interdict Act, passed the House by a vote of 412-3 last year and was adopted in December by unanimous consent in the Senate — which requires every senator to sign off.

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Specifically, it aims to give the U.S. Customs and Border Protection more chemical screening devices at entry ports and mail facilities; bolster the resources to interpret these screening tests; and authorize money for both actions.

“This law will help provide badly needed resources to those on the front lines who are protecting our country from the scourge of fentanyl. Fentanyl presents a grave threat to all Americans. I am proud to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to give U.S. Customs and Border Protection the latest technological tools available to interdict this deadly drug,” Markey, who introduced the measure in the Senate, said in a release.

Trump has said he’s committed to curbing the opioid crisis and declared the epidemic a national public health emergency in late October.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats are ramping up the pressure for a larger spending package to include robust funding for the opioid epidemic.