California governor boosts Guard to curb fentanyl, slams Speaker

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Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif) is doubling the National Guard presence on California’s border with Mexico to combat the flow of fentanyl into the state while criticizing House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) for blocking legislation that would have provided more resources.

“The Republican Party has been consistently standing in the way of providing the resources to support the men and women working hard not only here at the border,” Newsom said in a video post on X. “It’s time for them to stop playing politics. It’s time for the Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, to stop playing politics and do the right thing.” 

In February, Democrats and Republicans negotiated a $20 billion bill to improve border security that would have provided $6.8 billion to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, $7.6 billion for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and $4 billion to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

However, House Republicans almost immediately signaled that they would oppose that compromise bill, even before it was officially unveiled, arguing it did not go far enough in security the border. Former President Donald Trump’s opposition helped ensure the compromise was dead on arrival.

Newsroom has increased the number of California National Guard (CalGuard) servicemembers from 155 to now nearly 400 service members as part of the Counter Drug Taskforce operations to counter the flow of fentanyl and other drugs into the U.S. 

CalGuard supported the seizure of 5.8 million pills containing fentanyl in 2023. The operations CalGuard supported resulted in the record seizure of 62,224 pounds of fentanyl in 2023, which was a 1,066 percent increase since 2021, according to the governor’s office.

Synthetic opioids like fentanyl contribute to nearly 70 percent of the more than 100,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. each year.

The personnel increase is funded by a $30 million investment plan to expand CalGuard’s work and federal appropriations. 

While Newsom said the increase will help fight the opioid crisis, frequent Newsom critic Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said the push is too little too late. 

“I almost feel like I’m on an episode of Punk’d, is he sending them there to help facilitate them access into the country? It’s almost a joke,” Sheriff Chad Bianco told Palm Springs-based KESQ-TV. “This has been going on for years. We’ve been begging for help for years,”

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