Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire
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Kuster and Colleagues Call on Trump Administration to Maintain Funding for Office of National Drug Control Policy

May 17, 2017
Press Release
**Proposed cuts include program that last year directed nearly $4.5 million to New England to combat drug trafficking**

(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, joined more than 70 of her colleagues in calling on the Trump Administration to maintain funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in their FY2018 budget. The letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney highlights the importance of ONDCP and its programs to addressing the opioid epidemic. Kuster has been a vocal critic of the proposed cuts and raised her concerns regarding cuts to ONDCP with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price during his recent trip to New Hampshire.

“I’m encouraged that there is bipartisan opposition to these misguided cuts,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “We know that the opioid and substance misuse epidemic requires a comprehensive approach that includes law enforcement, education, prevention, and access to treatment and recovery services. These proposed cuts, and pursuit of policies that would reduce access to recovery services, defies the Trump administration’s stated commitment to addressing this crisis. I look forward to working with the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force and my colleagues in Congress to improve our response to the opioid epidemic and support those on the frontlines of this crisis.”

The proposed cuts to ONDCP include elimination of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, which coordinates drug trafficking activities in designated areas. Last year, the New England HIDTA region received nearly $4.5 million in funding, including nearly $250,000 specifically for Hillsborough and Rockingham counties in New Hampshire.

“The need for a coordinated, effective, and accountable approach to substance abuse and drug trafficking is greater than ever,” wrote the members.  “The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that the number of overdose deaths from prescription opioids increased by a factor of 2.8 between 2002 and 2015. The number of heroin deaths increased by a factor of 6.2 in the same period. This epidemic is being felt in communities throughout the United States and the effects have been devastating.”

The members continued, “For almost two decades, ONDCP has had a critical role in ensuring the nation’s drug policy is effective, accountable, and evidence-based. The Office and the programs it supports are uniquely positioned to address the causes and effects of the current opioid crisis with proven strategies and broad reach. For these important programs to remain effective, we believe they must continue to be funded fully and coordinated effectively. We are gravely concerned that any interruption would exacerbate the crises in our communities and we remain committed in working together to reverse the damaging effects that opioids and other drugs have had on American families.”

 

Click here and see below to read the letter.

 

May 16, 2017

The Honorable Mick Mulvaney
Director, Office of Management and Budget

725 17th Street Northwest

Washington, District of Columbia 20503

 

Dear Director Mulvaney:

We are writing to express our concern about reported severe reductions to the Office of the National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in the fiscal 2018 budget that would put in jeopardy programs that provide needed assistance to state and local law enforcement and community coalitions to fight the growing opioid epidemic.

As you know, ONDCP has played a critical role in coordinating the nation’s drug control efforts. Since 1988 this office has enjoyed bipartisan support for its mission of protecting public safety and promoting public health. The office’s National Drug Control Strategy has provided an important blueprint to guide and coordinate the efforts of federal, state, and local partners to ensure an evidence-based and accountable strategy to address the devastating impact of drugs on our communities.   

The need for a coordinated, effective, and accountable approach to substance abuse and drug trafficking is greater than ever.  The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that the number of overdose deaths from prescription opioids increased by a factor of 2.8 between 2002 and 2015. The number of heroin deaths increased by a factor of 6.2 in the same period. This epidemic is being felt in communities throughout the United States and the effects have been devastating.

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, overseen by ONDCP, has been a critical component of the National Drug Control Strategy. This program aids in the coordination of federal, state, and local drug task forces to disrupt or dismantle drug trafficking organizations. It also engages and provides support to state and federal prosecutors to convict individuals associated with drug trafficking organizations. In recent years, HIDTA seizures have yielded billions of dollars that transnational criminal organizations would have used to reinvest in the illegal drug trade. Instead, this cost-effective program has reinvested proceeds in efforts to further address the causes and effects of substance abuse.

The office’s Drug Free Communities (DFC) Program has been similarly effective.  Its approach to addressing local problems with community-driven solutions has consistently shown reductions in past 30-day use of alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs. The program is designed with strict accountability provisions to ensure the highest levels of local support in solving the substance abuse crisis each community faces.  By law, there is a cap on the amount of money that can be spent on administrative and overhead expenses, which ensures that the maximum amount of funding goes to DFC coalitions that have the power to reduce youth substance use in their own communities. Coalitions are required to be in existence and fully functioning for a minimum of six months before they are eligible to apply, and they must have baseline data to show that they have full knowledge of local drug issues, as well as matching federal funding with dollar-for-dollar local funds.  

For almost two decades, ONDCP has had a critical role in ensuring the nation’s drug policy is effective, accountable, and evidence-based. The Office and the programs it supports are uniquely positioned to address the causes and effects of the current opioid crisis with proven strategies and broad reach. For these important programs to remain effective, we believe they must continue to be funded fully and coordinated effectively. We are gravely concerned that any interruption would exacerbate the crises in our communities and we remain committed in working together to reverse the damaging effects that opioids and other drugs have had on American families. 

We respectfully request clarification on the Administration’s intended actions to ensure the continuity of HIDTA and DFC and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

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