WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden introduced a plan to tackle the country’s opioid overdose crisis, which is killing more than 70,000 Americans a year, in his State of the Union address Tuesday.
Biden said that the country will launch a “major surge” to stop fentanyl production, sale and trafficking, implementing drug detection machines to inspect cargo at the country’s borders. He said he will also work with independent companies like FedEx to inspect packages entering the country.
In the past year, Biden said the country has deployed a record number of people to work at the country’s southern border, where law enforcement has seized more than 23,000 pounds of fentanyl.
Still, some lawmakers said Biden’s initiatives have not been enough. There was audible noise from the crowd when he explained his plan to tackle the crisis.
“I thought it was profoundly dishonest and cynical,” Senator Ted Cruz (R – Texas) said. “There’s a reason half the chamber cracked up laughing when he said that he doesn’t want to secure the border. He has produced the worst fentanyl crisis in the history of our country.”
Biden advocated for strong penalties for those involved with fentanyl trafficking. Fentanyl, estimated to be 10,000 times more powerful than morphine, is responsible for most of the country’s overdoses and is traveling into the United States in record numbers.
“There is so much more to do. And we can do it together,” Biden said.
Biden also urged lawmakers to crack down on social media companies who are allowing for the sale of illegal drugs on their sites. Last month, the joint Energy and Commerce Committee hosted a panel of advocates and lawyers seeking to hold companies like Snapchat accountable for drug transfers on their apps.
“It’s time to pass bipartisan legislation to stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children, and impose stricter limits on the personal data these companies collect on all of us,” Biden said.
Biden also hosted Doug Griffin, the father of a woman who died from fentanyl poisoning, at Tuesday’s address. Biden said Doug’s daughter, Courtney, had a story all too familiar to millions of Americans.
“He told us he wants to ‘start the journey toward America’s recovery,” Biden said. “Doug, we’re with you.”