The Office of National Drug Control Policy is supposed to be coordinating the federal government’s response to the opioid crisis, which Donald Trump says is some kind of emergency. Yet his administration keeps trying to slash its budget.
The plan would shift the office’s two main grant programs, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas grant and the Drug Free Communities Act, to the Justice and Health and Human Services departments, respectively, multiple sources in the administration and others working with the government on the opioid crisis told POLITICO.
The move would result in a reduction of about $340 million, or 95 percent of the ONDCP’s budget. Trump administration officials say the office would still serve as the White House’s drug policy shop, while the grants would be administered by larger agencies.
At least two Republican senators, West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito and Ohio’s Rob Portman, said they would fight the move, while people who’ve worked on drug control emphasized what a disaster Trump’s plan would be:
David Kelley, congressional affairs liaison for the National HIDTA Directors Association, said if HIDTA gets moved under DOJ, U.S. attorneys would control the program and “state law enforcement voices would be lost.” Under ONDCP, federal, state and local law enforcement all have equal power and collaborate with each other on a daily basis.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt it will effectively eliminate the HIDTA program as we know it today,” Kelley said.
Not that U.S. drug policy is currently working all that well, but one way of making it work even less well would be to hand it over to the Jeff Sessions Justice Department and the Health and Human Services department soon to be headed (presumably) by Alex Azar.