January 27, 2024

On Aug. 7, 2023, I sat in Memorial Station in Belton, Mo., with misty eyes as I heard parents share their tragic grief about their children who had died from accidental fentanyl poisoning. It was a forum sponsored by Rep. Mark Alford, Mo.-4.

Besides the parents, I heard from the Cass County Sheriff, State Rep. Sherri Gallick, the Missouri Highway Patrol unit for drug and crime intervention, and others.

I remember Rep. Alford’s emotion has he spoke about creating the willingness in Congress to legislate against the importation and distribution of fentanyl. He promised to repeat the forum in other locations and provide an outline of how to conduct the forums to every member of congress, Democrat and Republican, until legislation could be passed.

On an X post dated May 25, 2023 at 10:54 a.m., Alford had this to say after voting for the HALT Fentanyl Act:

“These drugs are coming up through the Mexican border and are killing our young people and some adults, as well. This is the first step. And if the president’s not going to do something about this, if he’s not going to close the border, then we Republicans have to do something to make an impact to stop fentanyl deaths in America. This is the first step.”

The second step is available right now. The HR 815: National Security and Border Act of 2024 would provide $110 billion for national security, including the southwest border.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has been supporting this bill for weeks. House Democrats support the bill. Many have said it’s the best possible deal available in a political world. Yet today we get the news that McConnell is backing off because a former president, who faces four indictments that include more than 90 charges, wants to run on the current president’s “inaction” on the border. Control of the border is something that same former president failed to do in four years.

I urge Rep. Alford to walk across the aisle and talk with Rep. Hakeem Jefferies, House minority leader, to find a way they can work together to get HR 815 passed in the House. In his own words Alford said that Republicans had to take action on the southwest border to prevent the importation of fentanyl and what is used to make it.

If Alford fails to act, he would failing those parents who shared heartbreaking stories at a forum he sponsored. He would fail law enforcement officers who fight hard and take many risks, and suffer personal pain when dealing with the accidental fentanyl deaths of young people.

Alford would fail you and me.

Diane G. Yeamans
Belton, MO