WASHINGTON — President Trump signed legislation Wednesday aimed at giving Customs and Border Protection agents additional screening devices and other tools to stop the flow of illicit drugs.
US Senator Ed Markey, along with fellow Massachusetts delegation member Representative Niki Tsongas, sponsored the bill, called the Interdict Act.
After signing the bill, Trump made a point of giving the pen he used to Markey.
“I’m going to give it to a Democrat,” Trump said as he handed Markey the writing utensil. “That’s bipartisan, when I give it to a Democrat.”
Speaking in the Oval Office, Trump said the bill is ‘‘a significant step forward’’ in the fight against powerful opioids such as fentanyl, calling the drugs ‘‘our new big scourge.’’
Trump also warned that drug traffickers are ‘‘using our postal system and they’re killing our people.’’
At the signing, Markey said hopefully that “this [law] is going to go a long way.” He said, “In Massachusetts, like Ohio, it’s an epidemic,” adding, “This is the epidemic.” He also said the new law will give “tools to our law enforcement.”
The president was joined at the bill signing ceremony by members of Congress and health care practitioners.
The bill ensures CBP agents will have portable chemical screening devices at ports of entry and mail facilities. It appropriates $9 million for hundreds of new screening devices, laboratory equipment, and facilities.
Just before he signed the bill, Trump also made a head-scratching comment about the new measure.
“It feels like a very giant step, but unfortunately it’s not going to be a giant step because no matter what you do this is something that keeps pouring in,” Trump said. “We’re going to find the answer. There is an answer. I think I actually know the answer, but I’m not sure the country is ready for it yet. Does anybody know what I mean? I think so.”