WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) criticized President Trump’s proposed budget for cutting or maintaining current levels of federal funding for various programs working to address the opioid epidemic, even as opioid overdose deaths continue to rise. Under President Trump’s proposed budget, programs within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration face nearly $400 million in cuts while initiatives such as the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant are not increasing despite urgent need.
“The opioid epidemic has touched every Ohio community, and the Administration must start treating this issue as the crisis that it is,” said Brown. “Individuals and families struggling with addiction need a meaningful commitment from their elected leaders, but instead, the Administration has chosen to undercut the efforts of Ohio communities to tackle this epidemic. I will continue to work with colleagues in Congress, as well as state and local partners, to secure the necessary resources for individuals and families to get the treatment that they need.”
Earlier this month, Brown released a statement in response to reports that the Trump Administration planned to significantly cut the budget for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. While the Administration, after criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, reversed course on many of the proposed cuts, the budget still proposes to cut funding for the high-intensity drug trafficking program and the drug free community program under the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Brown has worked with members of both parties to secure federal resources and address the opioid crisis in Ohio communities.
Earlier this month, Brown announced more than $160 million in federal resources to combat the opioid crisis in states like Ohio that have been hardest hit by the epidemic as part of the government funding package agreed to in April. The President’s budget proposes to cut or flat fund many of these programs.
In April, Brown announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released $26 million in grant funding to Ohio to bolster efforts to combat the opioid epidemic after he joined Senate colleagues in in a letter to President Trump calling for the release of critical resources that have been designated to address the nation’s opioid epidemic.
Brown urged Governor George “Sonny” Perdue, President Trump’s nominee to serve as the Secretary of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to continue USDA’s efforts to fight the opioid epidemic in Ohio communities. USDA has helped in the fight against opioids through its Rural Development grant programs, like the Community Facilities Program—which helps rural communities expand local resources like medical facilities and public safety services. Brown also supported a strong Rural Development title in the 2014 Farm Bill to provide economic support to rural communities.
Brown also worked with his colleagues Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to introduce bipartisan legislation to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) keep the deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl, out of the country. Brown’s bill, the INTERDICT Act, would provide CBP with additional high-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect fentanyl before it enters the U.S. According to a report from the Ohio Department of Health, fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Ohio more than doubled from 503 in 2014 to 1,155 in 2015. Several state and national law enforcement organizations have endorsed Brown’s bill.
Last Congress, Brown introduced legislation that would address the opioid epidemic from prevention to recovery, filling in gaps that would help: boost prevention, improve tools for crisis response for those who fall through the cracks, expand access to treatment, and provide support for lifelong recovery.