U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is proposing to dramatically slash funding for the White House drug control office, after Trump campaigned to fix the nation’s growing opioid abuse crisis.
A preliminary 2018 budget document from the Office of Management and Budget would reduce funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) by 95 percent, from $364 million to just $24 million.
The proposal calls for eliminating ONDCP’s drug-free communities and high-intensity drug trafficking programs, both of which have bipartisan congressional support.
Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, said “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.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said no final decision has been made about the office’s budget, but reiterated “The president has made very clear that the opioid epidemic in this country is a huge priority for him.”
The document says the administration believes the programs duplicate other federal and state initiatives and the proposed budget would result in a “more streamlined organization that can more effectively address drug control issues.”
Critics maintain the proposed cuts are the latest in a series of administration actions that may hinder the government’s ability to fight the opioid epidemic. The administration’s Obamacare repeal legislation would result in the loss of health insurance for millions of Americans, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Trump also fired surgeon general Vivek Murthy who led a groundbreaking study of the opioid crisis.
On the campaign trail last year, Trump promised to fight an opioid epidemic that is killing over 47,000 Americans each year.
The crisis has ravaged many of the rural areas and small towns where Trump received strong support.
In March Trump created a new drug addiction task force and appointed friend and former rival New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to lead the panel. The commission will collaborate with local law, medical and other officials and addicts to improve treatment options and prevent addiction.
Republican Congressman Tom Marino was in line to be appointed to lead ONDCP but withdrew his name on Thursday, citing a family illness.