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During Plattsburgh visit, Senator Schumer promotes bill to sanction China over fentanyl crisis

New York Senator Charles Schumer visits the University of Vermont Heath Network’s CVPH Medical Center
Pat Bradley
New York Senator Charles Schumer visits the University of Vermont Heath Network’s CVPH Medical Center

New York’s Senior U.S Senator Charles Schumer, the majority leader, was in Plattsburgh this morning to promote legislation that would sanction China for its role in contributing to the overdose crisis.

Majority Leader Schumer included the FEND Off Fentanyl Act in the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support. The Democrat says his provision would dramatically reduce the flow of fentanyl into the country.

“China sends Chinese companies, with the Chinese government just looking the other way and winking, sends the precursor chemicals that are made into fentanyl," Schumer said. "They send them to Mexico. Mexico then in its labs, these drug dealers and others, changes it into fentanyl and sends it across the border.”

Schumer cited a number of factors challenging control of the drug.

“The fact that it comes from overseas. The fact that it’s relatively cheap and can be easily made and the fact that it is added to lots of other drugs. It’s not fentanyl alone. It’s heroin laced with fentanyl, methamphetamine laced with fentanyl, even oxycontin laced with fentanyl," the senator said. "So it’s sort of more ubiquitous.”

Schumer cited data showing in 2021 nearly 107,000 Americans died from an overdose with the majority related to fentanyl. Last year the Drug Enforcement Administration seized enough doses of fentanyl to supply a lethal dose to every American.

Schumer says the legislation would not usually be part of the defense bill, but he wanted it included in must-pass legislation.

“It gives the President emergency powers to put sanctions on China, tough sanctions that will hurt their economy and hurt their jobs unless they stop the flow of these drugs out of China," Schumer said. "And we do the same with Mexico. Unless the Mexican government, which it can do, shuts down a lot of these drug labs and makes an effort they will get sanctions as well. So it’s the toughest thing that’s been passed to stop the flow of fentanyl here to the North Country, to New York and throughout America that has really happened. And the bill is called the FEND Off Fentanyl Act and we now need the House to go along.”

During his visit to the University of Vermont Heath Network’s CVPH Medical Center, Senator Schumer also highlighted funds that will be allocated to hospitals across the state as a result of rules changes by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Schumer says most upstate hospitals will see an increase in reimbursement rates.

“The changes we’ve gotten in the hospital reimbursement formula will get a billion dollars, $1 billion, to upstate hospitals every year. Forty million of that will go to the North Country," Schumer said. "So not only does CVPH get $10 million but our other hospitals get about $30 million amongst them and that’s a huge change. And when you know that’s in your budget permanently you can plan so much better. And it’s one of the biggest shots in the arm of federal funding that upstate New York for hospitals, for health care, has ever gotten and I’m very proud that I was able to push that through.”

Provisions of Senator Schumer’s FEND Off Fentanyl Act include declaring international trafficking of fentanyl a national emergency and allowing special measures by the Treasury Department to deter fentanyl-related money laundering. The defense bill it is attached to must pass by the end of the year.