FIRST ON FOX: Two Republican lawmakers introduced a joint resolution to give President Biden the military authority to combat transnational cartels smuggling fentanyl into the U.S.
Reps. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, and Michael Waltz, R-Fla., introduced a joint resolution authorizing Biden to use military force to combat the cartels pumping fentanyl and other similar, dangerous substances across the border.
Crenshaw, the architect of the bill last Congress, told Fox News Digital that the cartels “are responsible for about 360,000 homicides this year in Mexico” and that they are “militaristic in nature,” mirroring “an all-out civil war” in many cases.
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Reps. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, pictured on the left, and Michael Waltz, R-Fla., not pictured, introduced a joint resolution authorizing President Biden to use military force to combat the cartels pumping fentanyl and other similar, dangerous substances across the border.
(Thomas Phippen/Fox News)
The Texas Republican also said the “same level of cooperation” America saw with the Colombian government under former President Clinton isn’t being mirrored by Mexico “to the extent it needs to” and that the big difference between that situation and today’s is the fentanyl factor.
“What we’ve been dealing with for a while now, and nobody wants to talk about it too much, is a potentially failed narcoterrorist state at our border,” Crenshaw told Fox News Digital in a Wednesday phone call.
“And when you have 80,000 Americans a year dying from fentanyl overdose, oftentimes not even knowing they were taking fentanyl, that to me is active hostilities against the American people,” the congressman continued.
Crenshaw said he did not believe the Mexican government’s “claim that the son of El Chapo’s arrest was not related to [President] Biden’s visit” and that the U.S. needs “to pressure them to do more.”
“They can do more. Under President Trump, they were shown that they would do more if we leverage them,” Crenshaw said. “And this is some pretty serious leverage.”
The congressman also said that the joint resolution “is not some messaging bill” and is “a very serious conversation about what needs to be done to address this threat.”
The Texas congressman also noted that he previously introduced the Declaring War Against Cartels Act last Congress and that the Mexican government “used to play ball a lot more, and they’ve done it a lot less.
Waltz told Fox News Digital that the resolution is needed because the cartels "have exceeded the capability of law enforcement" and are a "paramilitary arm armed with armored vehicles, heavy weapons, and billions at their disposal."
(Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Crenshaw said the Mexican government “is fairly transactional and fairly prone to leverage” and said the joint resolution is “leverage,” adding the U.S. is “done having nice conversations where we all shake hands at the end and put our different flags behind us.”
“We are really, really serious about this. You guys have threats within your country that are becoming serious threats to our country, killing tens of thousands of Americans a year. And we need to address it. So it’s a carrot and a stick. We want to help them, but we need that strong language in there, too.”
Crenshaw said that his GOP colleagues in the House are showing interest in the resolution and quipped that his “message to Democrats” is he’s “giving the Democrat president authority to look good for the American people.”
“Why don’t you take me up on that? How about that? Because this is a problem that faces every American. This is not partisan,” Crenshaw said. “You know, this is not a partisan bill. This is a strong national security bill.”
Waltz told Fox News Digital that the resolution is needed because the cartels “have exceeded the capability of law enforcement” and are a “paramilitary arm armed with armored vehicles, heavy weapons, and billions at their disposal.”
“And we’ve even seen collaboration with international terrorist groups and the Chinese Communist Party with these groups,” Waltz said in a Wednesday phone interview. “So, we believe that we need to start using military assets to address this national security threat.”
“That does not have to mean troops on the ground,” the Florida Republican continued. “That can be cyber, that can be drones, that can be military surveillance assets, space assets, you name it.”
The resolution would give Biden the military authority to go after cartels engaging in fentanyl trafficking.
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
“But we have to start disrupting them, dismantling them, and targeting their leaders,” he added.
Waltz pointed to the U.S.’s “tremendous success” with Plan Colombia under former President Clinton and America needs to look at the issue of cartels as a national security issue, not a law enforcement issue.
The Florida Republican also said that he and Crenshaw want to begin offering the Mexican government “assets and offering them help” and that “cooperation with the United States” is necessary “to defeat” the cartels.
“But obviously, the Biden administration is going to have to take this on board and the Obrador administration is going to take it on board,” Waltz said. “I don’t want to wait until we have… even more casualties than we already have. I want to start pushing this effort while we have a Republican-led Congress and as we’re heading into 2024.”
Waltz said the “cartels have declared war against us” and that “it’s time to hit back.”
Crenshaw initially drafted the resolution last Congress and is introducing the legislation with Waltz as the Republican-controlled 118th Congress kicks off.
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The military authorization would give Biden the authority to go after nine cartels — including the influential Jalisco New Generation and Sinaloa cartels — engaging in fentanyl trafficking and the trafficking of related substances, and are destabilizing the Western hemisphere.
The bill also includes a sunset clause of five years, requiring a revisitation to the situation after the time period expires. Waltz said the sunset clause was responsive to the previous military force authorizations that led to “20-something-long years” of military action.