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White House To Effectively Kill Office Leading Fight Against Opioids

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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President Donald Trump’s forthcoming budget proposal will reportedly cut funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) by 95 percent, according to a leaked email.

An internal email sent by Rich Baum, the acting director of the ONDCP, discussed the “heartbreaking” cuts that are planned in the fiscal 2018 budget proposal. The proposal, expected to be released in full at the end of May, calls for annual funding to the office to be slashed from $388 million to $24 million, reports Politico.

Under the budget, salaries will be cut by nearly $7 million, which is estimated to affect roughly 33 full-time jobs.

“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,” Baum said in the internal email, according to The New York Times. “I don’t want to see this happen.”

Funding for the ONDCP’s high-intensity drug trafficking program, which received $254 million in 2017, will reportedly be eliminated entirely, as will $100 million for their drug-free communities support program. Critics are lashing out over the proposal, including Republicans, who question the wisdom of slashing funding for the ONDCP amid the national opioid epidemic.

“I’ve known and worked with our drug czars for more than 20 years and this agency is critical to our efforts to combat drug abuse in general, and this opioid epidemic, in particular,” Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman said in a statement Friday. “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.”

The cuts appear to contradict pledges from Trump to tackle the nation’s addiction crisis. Trump tapped New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie in March to lead the White House’s efforts to combat opioid abuse. The finalized budget proposal will not be released until the end of May.

TheDCNF reached out to a spokesman at the Office of Management and Budget but did not receive a reply at the time of publication.

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