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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions - Illegal Drugs

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise to introduce the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2013 with my colleagues and friends, Senator Charles Grassley, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Tom Udall and Senator Ron Wyden.

This bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in the last Congress, will support the Obama administration's Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime by providing the Department of Justice with crucial tools to help combat the international drug trade. As drug traffickers find new and innovative ways to avoid prosecution, we must keep up with them rather than allowing them to exploit loopholes as our laws lag behind.

This legislation has three main components. First, it puts in place penalties for extraterritorial drug trafficking activity when individuals have reasonable cause to believe that illegal drugs will be trafficked into the United States. Current law says that drug traffickers must know that illegal drugs will be trafficked into the United States and this legislation would lower the knowledge threshold to reasonable cause to believe.

The Department of Justice has informed my office that with increasing frequency, it sees drug traffickers from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru who produce cocaine in their countries but leave transit of cocaine to the United States in the hands of Mexican drug trafficking organizations such as the Zetas. Under current law, our ability to prosecute source-nation traffickers from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru is limited since there is often no direct evidence of their knowledge that illegal drugs were intended for the United States. But make no mistake, drugs produced in these countries fuel violent crime throughout the Western Hemisphere as well as addiction and death in the United States.

Second, this bill puts in place penalties for precursor chemical producers from other countries, such as those producing pseudoephedrine used for methamphetamine, who illegally ship precursor chemicals into the United States knowing that these chemicals will be used to make illegal drugs.

Third, this bill will make a technical fix to the Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act which was signed into law last year and increases penalties for the trafficking of counterfeit drugs. The fix, requested by the Department of Justice, puts in place a ``knowing'' requirement which was unintentionally left out of the original bill. The original bill makes the mere sale of a drug that happens to be counterfeit a federal felony offense regardless of whether the seller knew the drug was counterfeit. Under the original bill, a pharmacist could be held criminally liable if he or she unwittingly sold counterfeit drugs to a customer. Adding a ``knowing'' requirement corrects this problem.

As Chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control and as a public servant who has focused on law enforcement issues for many years, I know that we cannot sit idly by as drug traffickers find new ways to circumvent our laws. We must provide the Department of Justice with all of the tools it needs to prosecute drug kingpins both here at home and abroad.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

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