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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator JD Vance joined NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday to discuss the fentanyl crisis, including the role the U.S. military could have in defeating the cartels, the economic drivers of addiction, and the role the Chinese Communist Party plays in allowing the export of fentanyl precursor chemicals.

Watch the full interview here and read excerpts below:

Senator Vance on U.S. military action against drug cartels:

“I want to empower the President of the United States, whether that’s a Democrat or Republican, to use the power of the U.S. military to go after these drug cartels … the Mexican government is being, in a lot of ways, destabilized by the constant flow of fentanyl. You mentioned Colombia, right? The Colombian drug cartels were so powerful that Colombia became a failed state. You think the fentanyl problem is bad now, what about three years from now when the Mexican drug cartels are more powerful than the Mexican state itself?”

Senator Vance on the economic drivers of the crisis:

“If you look historically, we’ve always had more substance abuse problems in the Midwest of the country … where deindustrialization, a lot of these manufacturing jobs went to China, Mexico, and so forth. I think that obviously was a mistake, but now we’re dealing with the consequences of that fact. And what happens when people lose their jobs, when they lose their livelihood, their sense of financial stability? Sometimes that does lead to an increase in demand for drugs and alcohol. Now what’s different about this maybe then 30 years ago is – now look, alcoholism’s a serious problem; I don’t mean to minimize it. But if you take a person who is addicted to alcohol 30 years ago and you make that fentanyl now, all the things that we worked towards, giving people a second chance, getting them into treatment, it’s so much harder with fentanyl because it’s so deadly and it’s so addictive … There is a very direct line between job losses to China, especially in the ’80s and ’90s, and the heroin and now the fentanyl problem today – a very, very direct line. So, number one: we have to rebuild the middle class in this country and ensure that people don’t want to do drugs in the first place. The second thing here is that of course we want to prevent people from getting addicted, but once they are addicted treatment is a major source of the story here.”

Senator Vance on addressing the Chinese Communist Party’s role in the crisis:

“We have less economic leverage over China than we did 15, 20 years ago, because we continue to make bad decisions. But we still have a lot of leverage, okay? And the Chinese export a ton to the American markets. They absolutely need the American consumer to be able to run their businesses. We should be willing to say, ‘If you don’t stop sending fentanyl precursors to Mexico and to our own ports of entry, we’re going to really penalize you guys economically.’ That is the real tool. We’re not going to invade China because they’re sending fentanyl into our country. We can increase tariffs and extract a massive economic cost. I think the Biden administration should be doing exactly that.”