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Trump Would Defund Anti-Opioid Drug Programs

by Countable | 11.16.17

The White House is proposing drastic cuts to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). This agency spearheads federal efforts to combat the opioid and heroin epidemic that’s ripping through communities across the nation.

A memo from the Trump Administration, first reported by CBS, calls for slashing the ONDCP budget by 95% – from $388 million this year to $24 million in 2018. The request is alarming lawmakers of both parties on Capitol Hill.

"We can't take our eyes off the ball," said Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio on the Senate floor this week.

“I never expected that at a time when we would have a substantial increase in drug use, in crime, in overdoses, in deaths – which is what we’ve experienced here in this country over the past few years – that we would cut these programs. I just didn’t imagine that.

Another Senator, Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri, was a prosecutor in Kansas City in the 1990s and relied on the Office of National Drug Control Policy in her effort to combat the use and trafficking of methamphetamine and crack-cocaine. McCaskill told Countable:

“To me we should be looking at what they’re doing, maybe fine tuning it, maybe making sure that it is relevant to the crisis we’re facing today, but to basically completely un-fund it, doesn’t make any sense”

McCaskill also said the ONDCP was critical in coordinating efforts to combat drug trafficking and gang violence across state lines and around the U.S.

To counteract President Trump's proposal, democrats are rallying around a proposal called The Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act. The bill would not only keep the ONDCP intact, but but expand its mission to going after high intensity drug trafficking. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) told reporters,

“It makes clear to the administration that we will not tolerate reckless cuts that would hurt our ability to support those on the front lines."

Another bill, championed by West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, would make pharmaceutical companies pay 1c per milligram of opioid sold into substance abuse programs.

Democrats in both chambers also point out that the GOP health care proposal, recently passed by the House, would cut funding for low-income families combatting substance abuse.

What do you think of the Office of National Drug Control Policy? How should it be funded? Click Take Action and tell your Reps!

-- Matt Laslo

(Photo Credit: Casey Fleser via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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