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Shaheen Questions Biden Officials in SFRC Hearing on Countering Fentanyl Trafficking, Pushes to Hold Social Media Companies Accountable

sfrc 2.15.23

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), today urged immediate action to counter illicit fentanyl trafficking. During the hearing, Shaheen questioned administration officials on what can be done to hold social media platforms accountable for enabling fentanyl sales that target youth and fuel this crisis. She pointed to her bipartisan bill with Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) – the Cooper Davis Act – which would help ensure social media companies work with law enforcement to crack down on these illegal sales. 

 “Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram, they’re all being used to market and sell pills laced with fentanyl. I think we’ve got to do more to force social media companies to be responsible. What are each of you doing to engage the social media companies, and what should we be doing as Congress to shut down these platforms that are being used to sell drugs?” questioned Shaheen. 

Today’s hearing also comes amid local reports today that there were 435 confirmed overdose deaths in New Hampshire in 2022, with 39 more cases pending – marking the worst year for overdose deaths since 2017. During Shaheen’s questioning, she pointed to the impact of new substances entering the market like xylazine, an animal tranquilizer, which make fentanyl even deadlier, and pushed the DEA to address the ever-evolving crisis.  

“In Manchester, since the beginning of February, we had ten overdose deaths from fentanyl. What we’re seeing now is an increasing number of cases related to xylazine, which is an animal tranquilizer that is being cut into drugs including fentanyl. Unlike opioids, there is no reverse agent like Narcan to reverse those overdoses,” Shaheen said. “Can you tell me, Administrator Milgram, does the DEA have a position on scheduling drugs like xylazine that are used for legitimate medical purposes but are being used illicitly? What is your position on that?” 

Closing her remarks, Shaheen doubled down on the need to make targeting social media, out of all the websites being used to traffic illicit drugs, a top priority, stating, “Well, I certainly agree with you – it’s broader. But my grandchildren aren't on those commercial websites on a daily basis. They are on social media sites.” 

You can watch her full questioning here.   

Senator Shaheen, as Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Justice, has led efforts in the Senate to address the substance use disorder epidemic. Her bipartisan FENTANYL Results Act, signed into law as part of the fiscal year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), increases global cooperation in the fight against synthetic drug trafficking. Shaheen also introduced the Cooper Davis Act, a bipartisan bill to hold social media companies accountable for reporting to law enforcement all illicit fentanyl activity occurring on their platforms. In the FY 2023 government funding legislation, Shaheen secured $608 million in federal grants to help communities and first responders across the nation to respond to the substance misuse crisis. Shaheen also included in the FY 2023 omnibus language to authorize increased funding for the State Opioid Response grant program, which gives local communities resources to better combat the opioid and substance use disorder epidemic. Since 2018, New Hampshire has received approximately $140 million from these grants to combat the opioid epidemic in the state.