AED: The Big Postal Issue That Needs More Attention

For all the political controversy surrounding the U.S. Postal Service in recent months, there is one issue on which Democrats, Republicans and Independents should be able to come together: the need to better track packages from overseas so that opioids are intercepted, rather than delivered.

On October 24, 2018, President Trump signed the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention, or STOP, Act. A centerpiece of the law is a provision to require advanced electronic data (AED) on all incoming packages by January 1, 2021.

AED is easily accessible information about the shipper, recipient, and content of cross-border packages. The Postal Service receives this information from foreign posts and forwards it to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) so that suspicious packages can be identified and seized when they arrive in the United States.

The mandatory AED provision had broad and strong support across the political spectrum. A bipartisan January 2018 U.S. Senate report documented that sending opioids into the U.S. from China in packages through the U.S. Postal Service, without AED, was the preferred shipment method of drug cartels.

Foreign postal services will not be able to meet the January deadline. A September 30 report from the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service found, “While it is possible that a few posts could include AED on 100 percent of their packages by January 2021, the vast majority will be unable to do so.”

Come January, the Postal Service should refuse to deliver all packages that do not have AED as well as packages where the AED is incomplete or indecipherable. President Trump, Joe Biden, and all members of Congress should back up the Postal Service on this decision.

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