More than 150 groups oppose cuts to anti-drug office
More than 150 organizations are strongly opposing the Trump administration’s reported proposed changes and cuts to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), arguing it would “create an unnecessary distraction from efforts to save our lives.”
Earlier this month, Politico reported that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was considering slashing the anti-drug office’s budget by nearly 95 percent and moving the two grants it administers to the purview of other departments.
Advocates of the office have galvanized against the proposal, sending a letter Monday addressed to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who has been leading the administration’s response to the opioid epidemic. The groups signing on to the letter represent a wide swath of those working to curb the drug crisis, such as those in prevention, treatment, recovery and criminal justice communities, and more.
ONDCP administers two main grants, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and Drug-Free Communities (DFC). OMB has proposed moving those to the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services, respectively, according to Politico.
HIDTA helps federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement in areas with high drug trafficking. DFC is a federal drug prevention program, doling out dollars to community coalitions in an effort to reduce substance abuse in youth.
“Not only would such a move drastically weaken these vitally important programs, and force them to compete for priority, direction, and funding in larger agencies with competing and higher priorities, but it would significantly impact ONDCP’s ability to effectively carry out its mission,” the groups, led by the Addiction Policy Forum, wrote.
This would result in a 95 percent cut to the anti-drug office’s budget, Politico reported — an effort OMB initially proposed last year but backed down after it faced immense backlash from advocates and lawmakers from both parties. It’s expected the move this year would also face backlash from both Republicans and Democrats.
“No other agency has this unique responsibility to coordinate efforts across the federal government to execute one shared drug strategy,” the groups wrote in the letter.
“This oversight is instrumental in eliminating waste and fraud by preventing duplicative programs and strategies among the various federal agencies. Cutting ONDCP’s budget would significantly harm the effectiveness of this unique mission.”