Trump proposes huge budget cuts for anti-drug office

Trump proposes huge budget cuts for anti-drug office
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The White House is proposing to cut nearly the entire budget for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), slashing its funding by about 95 percent, according to a lobbyist familiar with the plan.

Created in 1988, the agency — informally known as the drug czar's office — is charged with advising the president on drug-related issues, coordinating efforts to reduce drug use and creating an annual national drug control strategy. Politico first reported the proposed cuts.

Acting Director Rich Baum called the proposed cuts "heartbreaking" in a staff email.

The White House called the budget process a “complex one with many moving parts.”

“It would be premature for us to comment — or anyone to report — on any aspect of this ever-changing, internal discussion before the publication of the document,” the White House said in a statement. “The President and his cabinet are working collaboratively to create a leaner, more efficient government that does more with less of tax payers’ hard-earned dollars.”

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The deadline to submit comments on the proposed cuts is Tuesday, according to a lobbyist.

President Trump has said he’s committed to combatting the national opioid addiction epidemic. In late March, Trump signed an executive order creating a commission to combat opioid addiction, helmed by Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J). 

Since 1999, the rate of overdoses from drugs such as heroin and prescription painkillers has quadrupled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Advocates have rallied around the drug office in recent months, with around 200 organizations working on addiction-related issues sending a letter in support of the office after The New York Times wrote a story about its possible elimination.

“At a time when drugs now kill more people than firearms or car crashes, it is more important than ever for ONDCP to remain a strong voice in the White House and a visible presence nationally,” the letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney states.

Republican Senator Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGraham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment MORE (Oh.) criticized the proposed cuts.

"We have a heroin and prescription drug crisis in this country and we should be supporting efforts to reverse this tide, not proposing drastic cuts to those who serve on the front lines of this epidemic," Portman said in a statement.

Addiction Policy Forum president Jessica Nickel blasted the cuts, calling them "troubling."

"This attempt to undermine the premier agency responsible for carrying out the Administration's drug policies would undermine the good already accomplished," Nickel said.

Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) withdrew himself from consideration to run the office earlier this week, citing a critical illness in his family.