DC Dispatch: Grassley warns of ‘rainbow fentanyl’ sales; representatives adopt police defunding program


President Joe Biden’s administration is increasing funding for state opioid recovery programs as drug enforcement officials warn of new efforts to sell fentanyl to children, but U.S. senators from Iowa claim that not enough is being done to criminalize the distribution of drugs.

The White House on Friday announced a $1.5 billion grant program through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help states, tribal lands, and territories expand recovery and rehabilitation programs. treatment. The agency also issued new guidelines on the distribution of naloxone, a drug used to combat overdoses, and penalties for individuals and entities linked to fentanyl trafficking.

Iowa received more than $9 million in state grants for the Opioid Response in 2022. But U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley said the federal government must do more to prevent the sale and use of fentanyl. He urged parents to tell their children about “rainbow fentanyl” – brightly colored, packaged fentanyl that the Drug Enforcement Administration said it had seized in 18 states. According to a DEA press release, the drug’s candy-like appearance may be an effort to sell fentanyl to younger customers.

Grassley said parents should monitor who their children talk to online, as counterfeit and illegal pills are often sold on social media websites.

“Make it your business to get into your teenager’s business,” Grassley said in a press release. “Make sure they understand that a pill they think is harmless could kill them.”

He also reiterated his calls to expand the classification of fentanyl analogues as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Fentanyl and related substances are currently classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which means they have a high potential for abuse and are not approved for any medical purpose.

Sen. Joni Ernst introduced legislation Sept. 16 with fellow Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to further criminalize fentanyl trafficking. The law would make the distribution of fentanyl resulting in death punishable by federal charges of murder.

Ernst called for stronger border security to stop illegal crossings, which she says are fueling Iowa’s opioid epidemic. The new legislation is another way to tackle the sale of illegal drugs across the country, she said.

“The dealers and distributors of this deadly drug must be held accountable, and that is what we are fighting for,” Ernst said in a press release. “This effort will bring felony murder charges to those who willfully distribute this deadly opioid to unknown recipients.”

Representative Ashley Hinson said in a Fox Business interview on Tuesday that the Biden administration is ignoring illegal immigration and drug trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“This is a humanitarian crisis that they continue to turn a blind eye to – it’s the migrants who die on the way to this country, the cartels who continue to profit from this illicit fentanyl and methamphetamine entering our backyards,” Hinson said Tuesday. “I talk to law enforcement all the time in Iowa, not only are these drugs crossing the border into Arizona, but they’re also in our backyards in the Iowa.”

Representatives vote to increase funding for rural policing

All members of the U.S. House in Iowa voted to pass parts of a police bill package that increases funding for small local departments while requiring new accountability measures.

The Invest to Protect Act, passed Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support, would provide grants to local or tribal governments that employ fewer than 125 law enforcement officers for measures such as training to de-escalation, body cameras and mental health resources.

The legislation is not expected to have enough Republican support to pass the Senate, but Iowa Republican Rep. Randy Feenstra said the law would provide needed support for local police.

“Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities and keep our families safe,” Feenstra said in a press release. “I am proud to support the Investment to Protect Act to fully fund our police and give them the tools and resources they need to do their job. As a strong ally in our law enforcement community, I will always support Blue 100%. »

Money for victim services, violence intervention, mental health

In addition to the Law Enforcement Funding Act, the House passed legislation to launch three other grant programs. These programs would provide federal funding to expand victim services, community-based violence response programs, and services that dispatch unarmed mental health professionals instead of armed police officers to respond to mental health calls. .

All Republican representatives in Iowa voted against bills funding mental health and violence intervention services, but Hinson and Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks supported the measure expanding funding for victim services .

Representative Cindy Axne, a Democrat, voted for all of the proposals. The Invest to Protect Act will help rural police departments, she said, and the other programs will help law enforcement across the country meet the diverse needs of the people they serve.

“These bipartisan bills go beyond the usual funding for law enforcement to ensure that more police departments have the resources they need to help victims of crime and those facing mental health crises. “, Axne said in a press release. “These bills help equip officers to better respond to different situations and provide tools to help police departments build trust in their communities.”


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