Last night, legislation authored by Congressman Bill Owens was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 4748, the Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act, was passed unanimously by a vote of 413-0.
"It is vital to both the economic development of our region and the safety of our community that we take steps to stop the drug trade across our northern border," Owens said. "Northern New York has benefitted for decades from a robust business relationship across international lines, but any illegal activity that takes place over our border threatens that relationship."
H.R. 4748, the Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act, will enhance American response to illegal trafficking of drugs by requiring the Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to submit to Congress a Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy that includes a clear plan to stop the drug trade and coordinate a better working relationship between Indian tribal law enforcement agencies and the United States government.
When introduced, area District Attorneys praised Rep. Owens' quick action in introducing legislation to assist Northern Border communities:
"This bill is exactly what our communities need right now," said Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie. "This legislation will send a clear message to those who think they can break international laws and endanger our region -- that we will not stand for it."
"I cannot thank Congressman Owens enough for his efforts to address the problems in areas that criminals continue to exploit through drug, people, and weapons smuggling. This bill shows a continued concern for our community and border safety," said Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne.
"Illegal drug trafficking is a threat to the safety of our border communities, and this will work to enhance our tradition of cooperation between law enforcement agencies to address that that threat," said Jefferson County District Attorney Cindy Intschert.
"The Northern Border has long been exploited by those engaged in cross border drug trafficking. Its devastating impact is felt not only here in Northern New York, but in communities throughout the northeastern United States, as many of our young people are lured into a life of crime. I applaud Congressman Owens' efforts to introduce federal legislation that will help direct attention and much needed resources to this problem," said St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole M. Duvé.
The bill was also applauded by Homeland Security Chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), "I commend Mr. Owens, a leader on my Committee on northern border security issues, for bringing into focus the need for a strategic approach to stem the movement of illicit drugs across the U.S.-Canadian border, a longstanding northern border security challenge."
Senator Charles Schumer has introduced a companion bill to Rep. Owens' Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act. S. 3467 is currently referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.