(CNSNews.com) – President Biden on Wednesday evening hit back at Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) for blaming his administration for two fentanyl deaths that occurred before he took office.
Addressing a meeting of House Democrats in Baltimore, Biden suggested that GOP lawmakers such as Greene were going to cause a lot more Republicans to seek bipartisan cooperation with Democrats.
“A little bit more Marjorie Taylor Greene and a few more, you’re going to have a lot of Republicans running our way,” he told his amused audience. “Isn’t she amazing?”
Biden then recalled the outspoken Georgia Republican’s recent allegations regarding fentanyl deaths.
After the House Homeland Security Committee heard testimony from a Michigan woman whose sons died after unknowingly taking the synthetic opioid in 2020, Taylor Green tweeted a clip from the hearing.
“Listen to this mother, who lost two children to fentanyl poisoning, tell the truth about both of her son’s murders because of the Biden administrations refusal to secure our border and stop the Cartel’s [sic] from murdering Americans everyday by Chinese fentanyl,” she tweeted.
Biden said he probably “shouldn’t digress,” but then continued, “I’ve read – she was very specific recently, saying that a mom, a poor mother who lost two kids to fentanyl, that – that I killed her sons.”
“Well, the interesting thing is, that fentanyl they took came during the last administration,” he said, chuckling.
“Look, folks – anyway, I don’t want to get started.”
According to press reports, Caleb Kiessling, 20, and Kyler Kiessling, 18, died in July 2020 after taking what they thought were Percocet pain tablets. A friend, Sophia Harris, 17, also died after taking the drugs.
Their mother, Rachel Kiessling, testified at Tuesday’s hearing.
“You talk about welcoming those crossing our border seeking protection,” she told the committee in sometimes tearful testimony. “You’re welcoming drug dealers across our border. You’re giving them protection. You’re not protecting our children.”
While Greene in her tweet did link the two young men’s “murders” to “the Biden administration’s refusal to secure our border” she did not – as Biden said in Baltimore – accuse him of having “killed her sons.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 71,238 Americans died from fentanyl overdoses in 2021, up from 57,834 in 2020 and from 28,466 in 2017.
The quantity of fentanyl seized by Customs and Border Protection agents along the U.S.-Mexico border has increased from 2,633 pounds in fiscal year 2019 to 10,586 pounds two years later, and to 14,104 pounds in FY 2022.
In the first four months of the current fiscal year, October to January, the amount seized on the southwest border already stands at 8,642 pounds – more than combined total for FY 2019 and FY 2020.
How much fentanyl is not stopped coming across the border is unknown.
“There are no comprehensive data on the total quantity of foreign-produced illicit drugs smuggled into the United States at or between official ports of entry (POEs) because these are drugs that have generally evaded seizure by border officials,” a 2020 Congressional Research Service says.
According to the U.S. government, precursor chemicals for producing fentanyl comes mostly from China.
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday that China has taken steps since 2019 to counter the direct shipment of fentanyl.
The problem, however, was “precursor chemicals that are coming out of China being diverted elsewhere, and then manufactured into fentanyl, synthetic opiates, and brought into the United States.”
Kritenbrink said the department was prioritizing the issue in its direct engagement with the Chinese, but conceded that “our conversations have not been very satisfactory.”
He said the U.S. government was also working together with other countries in the world that are affected by the fentanyl “scourge,” in a bid to bring joint pressure to bear on China, “to do the right thing, to control these chemicals in a way that prevents their diversion and the illegal manufacturing of fentanyl.”
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