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Trump signs bipartisan bill to combat synthetic opioids

Trump signs bipartisan bill to combat synthetic opioids
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation 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 CapitoThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem path to a Senate majority narrows GOP shrugs off dire study warning of global warming Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senators face Wednesday vote on Trump health plans rule | Trump officials plan downtime for ObamaCare website | Lawmakers push for action on reducing maternal deaths MORE (R-W.Va.), Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyElection Countdown: O'Rourke goes on the attack | Takeaways from fiery second Texas Senate debate | Heitkamp apologizes for ad misidentifying abuse victims | Trump Jr. to rally for Manchin challenger | Rick Scott leaves trail to deal with hurricane damage Senate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Dems damp down hopes for climate change agenda MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanElection Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms Former Dem aide makes first court appearance on charges of posting GOP senators' info online Ex-House intern charged with 'doxing' GOP senators during Kavanaugh hearing MORE (D-N.H.) and Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulSenate passes key cyber bill cementing cybersecurity agency at DHS Hillicon Valley: Trump stuns with election interference claim against China | FCC limits fees for 5G | Uber reaches 8M settlement over breach | Fox sells Sky stake to Comcast | House passes bills to fix cyber vulnerabilities Sessions calls on former colleagues to send drone legislation to Trump's desk 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.