After Vowing to Curb Drug Use, Trump Seeks to Slash Drug Control Funds

In Budget, Governing and the Cabinet, Healthcare On
- Updated

WASHINGTON — When he was running for office, Donald J. Trump promised to rid America of the scourge of drugs, vowing to crack down on dealers and invest heavily in programs to get heroin and other opioids off the streets.

But on Friday, President Trump’s administration revealed plans to gut the 2018 budget of his Office of National Drug Control Policy. According to an Office of Management and Budget document obtained by The New York Times, the White House is proposing to slash the drug policy office budget by about 95 percent, to just $24 million from $388 million.

The cuts would mean the office could lose up to 33 employees. The budget would also eliminate grant programs it administers, including the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program and the Drug-Free Communities Support Program. According to the document, the Trump administration thinks the programs are duplicative of other federal and state initiatives.

The proposal was rebuked by Republicans and Democrats as a potentially reckless move. Rich Baum, the acting drug czar appointed by Mr. Trump, expressed anguish about the cuts in an email sent to the office’s staff on Friday.

“These drastic proposed cuts are frankly heartbreaking and, if carried out, would cause us to lose many good people who contribute greatly to O.N.D.C.P.’s mission and core activities,” Mr. Baum wrote. “I don’t want to see this happen.”

. . .

Some Republicans were also unhappy, arguing that Mr. Trump was underestimating the importance of the drug czar’s work. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said that the antidrug programs that the Trump administration wants to eliminate have had a profoundly positive impact in his state.

“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,” Mr. Portman said.

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