After Pressure from McCaskill, Administration Backs Off Proposal to Eliminate Office of National Drug Control Policy

WASHINGTON — Days after U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill released data showing that resources around Missouri could be dangerously impacted if the national office charged with combatting drug addiction and the opioid epidemic was virtually eliminated—as a draft of the Administration budget had reportedly proposed—the Administration today reversed the vast majority of those cuts in its formal 2018 budget.  

McCaskill had previously reached out to President Trump urging him to pursue their shared goal of combatting the opioid epidemic by continuing to fund the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

“The President made the right decision in restoring these resources,” McCaskill said. “In the middle of a raging opioid epidemic we simply can’t afford to cut off funding to an office that focuses on cutting drug use, especially among younger Americans.”

The ONDCP plays a leading role in fighting the opioid epidemic and drug addictions including administering the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program which provides resources and guidance to law enforcement across the country. Eighteen Missouri counties are assisted by this program, including Boone, Buchanan, Cape Girardeau, Christian, Clay, Cole, Franklin, Greene, Jasper, Jackson, Jefferson, Marion, Platte, Scott, St. Charles, Texas, St. Louis Counties and the City of St. Louis. The ONDCP also includes Drug-Free Communities Support Program (DFC) grants that go to community programs working to prevent drug abuse and addiction among children. Grants under this program have gone to organizations in Branson, Cape Girardeau, Eureka, Excelsior Springs, Imperial, Jefferson City, Joplin, Kansas City, Lamar, Lee’s Summit, St. Joseph, and St. Louis.  

Earlier this month, it was reported that the ONDCP would be cut by 95% in the 2018 budget and that funding for HIDTA and DFC grants would be eliminated entirely. The budget released by the Administration today includes only 1.2% cuts in HIDTA and 5.4% cuts to programs that include the DFC grants.

Created in 1988, the HIDTA program “provides assistance to Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States.” Nearly 20 percent of all counties in the U.S. are designated HIDTA and this designation covers over 65 percent of the population. The HIDTA program currently funds 752 initiatives across the country. The program enhances cooperation among law enforcement agencies, encourages intelligence sharing, and supports coordinated law enforcement strategies to combat illegal drugs. In a single year, for instance, HIDTA-funded initiatives seized $1.1 billion in assets from drug traffickers and dismantled 2,877 drug trafficking organizations. 

The Drug-Free Communities Support Program provides federal grants to community-based organizations to create local solutions for local drug programs, with a special focus on preventing substance abuse among young people. DFC has funded more than 2,000 coalitions and nearly 9,000 volunteers to combat alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use among youth.