Trump budget proposes big changes to anti-drug office

Trump budget proposes big changes to anti-drug office
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE’s budget is proposing moving two grants out of the anti-drug office, a major change that’s already sparked a backlash from lawmakers and more than 150 advocacy organizations.

The administration has justified the proposal in its budget, saying it “will enable ONDCP to focus resources on its core mission: to reduce drug use and its consequences by leading and coordinating the development, implementation and assessment of U.S. drug policy.”

Opponents argue the move would hamper the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) while the nation is in the middle of an opioid epidemic, saying they fear it would jeopardize the future of programs which help reduce substance abuse in youth and coordinate efforts to clamp down on drug trafficking.

Specifically, the White House fiscal 2019 budget, released Monday, would move the Drug Free Communities Support Program and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program into the Health and Human Services Department and Justice Department, respectively.

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Politico first reported the plan last month, and advocacy organizations and a bipartisan group of senators have written letters in opposition to the move.

This isn’t the first time the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has aimed to alter ONDCP. For example, last year OMB had planned to nearly eliminate the office by proposing a nearly 95 percent budget cut. The proposal leaked, backlash from lawmakers and advocacy groups ensued, and the administration reversed course on the plan and didn’t include it in the budget.

The president releases a budget annually, but Congress holds the power of the purse, and often changes or ignores the White House’s asks.

But the budget does offer a glimpse into the administration’s priorities.

Created in 1988, ONDCP is charged with advising the president on drug-related issues, coordinating the federal government’s efforts to reduce drug use and devising an annual national drug control strategy.

It’s been operating without a Senate-confirmed leader, but the White House announced it has nominated Jim Carroll — a deputy to White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE — to helm the office. He will serve as deputy director and acting director, the White House said.