President Donald Trump reiterated his support of the death penalty to Attorney General Jeff Sessions for fentanyl dealers flooding the streets with synthetic opioids.
Trump passed his wishes along to Sessions during a Thursday meeting at the White House, which also included Jared Kushner and Kellyanne Conway, who is spearheading the administration’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
Administration officials said Trump specifically wants the death penalty for fentanyl dealers linked to fatal overdoses, reports Bloomberg.
The meeting came in the wake of Trump’s scathing criticism of Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into his presidential campaign.
Trump previously advocated the death penalty for drug dealers during internal deliberations regarding an opioid response proposal in March.
Trump and Sessions reportedly agreed during the Thursday meeting to push off plans for criminal justice reform until after the midterm elections.
Fentanyl, a painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, is blamed as the primary fuel of the current opioid epidemic ravaging the country.
Only 2 milligrams of the synthetic opioid can cause an adult to suffer a fatal overdose.
The president is becoming increasingly vocal about the need for legislative action on fentanyl trafficking.
Trump tossed his support behind the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act on Twitter Monday, saying, “It is outrageous that Poisonous Synthetic Heroin Fentanyl comes pouring into the U.S. Postal System from China. We can, and must, END THIS NOW! The Senate should pass the STOP ACT — and firmly STOP this poison from killing our children and destroying our country. No more delay!”
It is outrageous that Poisonous Synthetic Heroin Fentanyl comes pouring into the U.S. Postal System from China. We can, and must, END THIS NOW! The Senate should pass the STOP ACT – and firmly STOP this poison from killing our children and destroying our country. No more delay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2018
The legislation, backed by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, passed in the House of Representatives June 14 but has stalled in the Senate.
Drug overdoses, fueled by synthetic opioids like fentanyl, are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under the age of 50.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate drug overdoses killed roughly 72,000 people across the U.S. in 2017, exceeding the annual death toll from car crashes and guns.