Schumer blasts proposal to cut drug-policy office's budget

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The Trump administration is proposing to gut the budget of the White House "drug czar" by 95 percent, effectively eliminating the decades-old Office of National Drug Control Policy, the lead federal agency responsible for managing and coordinating drug policy, according to a memo that its acting director sent Friday to agency employees.

The document also zeroes out funding to a number of grant programs including the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program and the Drug-free Communities Support Program.

Trump is scheduled to release his proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 later this month. "This is a crisis that does not wait for anybody and therefore we have to be aggressive with our response".

The office had a 2017 budget of $388 million.

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Sarah Sanders, a White House spokesperson, said Friday that the president is committed to taking on this crisis, and dismissed reports about the proposed budget cuts. In March, he signed an executive order creating a commission to combat opioid addiction, helmed by Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.).

In an email to staff, seen by Politico, Baum said: "These drastic proposed cuts are frankly heartbreaking and, if carried out, would cause us to lose many good people who contribute greatly to ONDCP's mission and core activities". According to a source familiar with the discussions, Baum has been in close contact with Jared Kushner, who heads up the White House Office of American Innovation. The AP report appeared after her comments at the White House daily press briefing.

The White House maintains that Trump's commitment to defeating the opioid epidemic will be addressed in his 2018 budget request and that a bevy of federal programs exist to fight the war on drugs. At the time, Trump said, "This is a total epidemic and I think it's probably, nearly un-talked about compared to the severity that we're witnessing".

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Baum said the cuts proposed by the Office of Management and Budget will make it harder for the commission to achieve its goals. "When there is, we'd certainly be happy to discuss that". "The President and his Cabinet are working collaboratively to create a leaner, more efficient government that does more with less of tax payers' hard-earned dollars".

And a group of over 70 medical and drug policy organizations wrote a letter to Trump titled "Retain the Office of National Drug Control Policy" and co-authored by groups like Addiction Policy Forum, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Smart Approaches to Marijuana and the Major County Sheriffs of America.

Many experts said the president's action is "underwhelming". Several candidates, most prominently Trump himself, highlighted the problem in visits to the state.

There have been 65 overdoses in the state's largest city alone since April 20.

The president has said he is committed to combatting the national opioid addiction epidemic. Sherrod Brown each said the cuts would be devastating to OH, which is among the hardest hit states by the opioid epidemic.

There are a few ways the government attempts to fight drug use in the U.S. The most visible way is with law enforcement: Stopping drugs at the border, and arresting and prosecuting dealers and users.

Indeed, in October of 2016, at a campaign rally, Trump said "we will give people struggling with addiction access to the help they need".

The office "brings essential expertise to the table on complex drug issues, expertise that would otherwise be missing or dispersed across multiple agencies", said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. The Pennsylvania Republican was one of Trump's earliest supporters in Congress.

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