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Trump donates third quarter paycheck to battling opioid epidemic

President Trump will donate his third-quarter salary to help his Health and Human Services Department battle the opioid epidemic, the White House announced Thursday.

Trump has pledged to donate his entire salary to various causes and has so far dedicated each of his quarterly $100,000 paychecks to different federal programs.

Trump previously donated his paychecks to the Education Department and the National Parks Service.

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“His decision to donate his salary is a tribute to his compassion, to his patriotism and his sense of duty to the American people,” acting Health and Human Services Secretary Eric Hargan told reporters on Thursday during the daily White House briefing.

“We are so pleased that President Trump has chosen to donate his salary this quarter to the planning and design of a large-scale public awareness campaign about the dangers of opioid addiction," he continued.

Trump made battling the nation’s opioid crisis one of the key planks during his presidential campaign, promising to address it soon after he took office. He declared the crisis a “health emergency” in October after criticism over a delay in that designation.

Trump first told reporters he would label the crisis a national emergency back in August. 

 In announcing the emergency declaration, Trump touted an advertising campaign as a way to stem the crisis of opioid overdose deaths plaguing the nation.

“One of the things our administration will be doing is a massive advertising campaign to get people, especially children, not to want to take drugs in the first place,” Trump said in late October. "Because they will see the devastation and the ruination it causes to people and people's lives.”

The White House’s commission to address the opioid epidemic included an aggressive multimedia campaign in its recommendations. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who helmed the commission, said there was a need for “an extensive national media campaign paid for by the federal government with private sector partners.”

Yet an advertising campaign would likely need much more money behind it, as similar initiatives have been backed by hundreds of millions in federal funding.

Funding for the opioid epidemic has been a source of frustration among some advocates and Democratic lawmakers, who were disappointed the emergency declaration didn't free up millions of dollars to combat the crisis. Senate Democrats have introduced a bill to allocate $45 billion over 10 years to the crisis, a nod to a similar funding amount Senate Republicans included in a bill to repeal-and-replace ObamaCare.

-Updated at 4:05 p.m.