In a closely divided Congress, opportunities for bipartisanship are rare. That’s why we should seize those opportunities whenever possible, because that’s the only way anything is going to become law in a divided government. I believe my legislation to target the cartels is an excellent opportunity for bipartisanship. Let me explain why.
1. These bills are very simple. They are specifically focused on the threat from the Mexican drug cartels and improving our capabilities and authorities to target them. One bill authorizes the use of military force against the cartels, so that we can work by, with, and through the Mexican government (just like we do with any host government when we have military authorities in their country) to assist them with all of the military resources at our disposal (including intelligence gathering and sharing). The other bill I’ve introduced would hit the cartels where it hurts: their wallets. My legislation would seize the cartels’ assets and would also sanction and deny aid to foreign governments that coordinate with cartels or do not take the necessary action to stop cartel activity in their own countries–Mexico is an obvious example. It would also authorize increased punishment for anyone convicted of aiding cartel-related crimes by adding up to 20 years to their sentence and naturalized citizens could lose their citizenship if they are convicted. These are narrowly focused bills on an issue that both Democrats and Republicans have publicly acknowledged is a threat.
2. These bills are also not inherently partisan as they do not wade into other divisive issues. I purposefully do not address immigration reform or border security in either bill, because we are never going to bring Democrats to the table on those issues in divided government. Obviously, I believe we need to improve border security and have introduced legislation to give our Border Patrol more resources, fix the problems within our asylum laws that encourage illegal immigration, and increase penalties against those who come into our country illegally. However, with Democrats still in control of the Senate and with a Democrat president in the White House, we need bipartisan support for any legislation to become law and my top priority is getting legislation enacted that would take on the criminals killing 70,000 Americans every year with fentanyl.
3. Finally, the fentanyl crisis is one that impacts every single community and every single congressional district in this country. And there is bipartisan acknowledgement that the fentanyl crisis is being fueled by the Mexican drug cartels. The fentanyl crisis is an issue that gets national attention across the political spectrum–both Fox News and CNN run regular segments on the fentanyl crisis because it is impossible to ignore. That’s why every single time I talk about these bills I frame it in a way that describes my legislation as a solution to the root cause of the fentanyl crisis, which is the trafficking of this illicit, deadly narcotic into our country by cartels just south of our border.
This is a common enemy that every American should want to defeat. Every policymaker, regardless of their political affiliation, should be joining legislation like mine. Stopping the Mexican drug cartels from killing Americans offers a unique opportunity for immediate bipartisan progress.