Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) is proposing to provide nearly $1 billion in next fiscal year’s government funding bill to fight fentanyl trafficking across the southwest border. Murphy, who heads the Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security panel, released details of the plan ahead of a subcommittee’s hearing Wednesday, Roll Call reports. About half of the funding would expand the ability of officers to inspect more passenger vehicles entering the U.S. and to improve officers’ ability to seize profits from drug sales leaving the U.S. Funds would be spent to hire more Customs and Border Protection officers and purchase more non-intrusive inspection systems. The goal is to inspect 65 percent of passenger vehicles crossing the border, up from 40 percent.
Murphy also aims to establish permanent outbound inspection operations at an additional six ports of entry to seize currency, firearms or other profits by transnational criminal organizations. Another $300 million would be spent improving existing inspections systems and developing artificial intelligence to improve inspections at the border. Other tranches of funding would boost Homeland Security Investigation, the unit that investigates transnational crime, and improve the department’s analytics system. Increasing numbers of deaths by fentanyl poisoning has driven heated rhetoric on Capitol Hill. Republican lawmakers have tied the issue to rising levels of migration at the southwest border, which could complicate efforts boost funding for the issue.