Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday condemned President Donald Trump’s proposal to gut funding for a long-standing federal drug prevention agency, calling the plan “destructive” during a period of widespread opioid abuse — including on Long Island.
Schumer (D-N.Y.), speaking at a Manhattan news conference, called on Trump to reconsider his administration’s proposal to cut funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy by 95 percent.
The plan, which would reduce the agency’s budget from $380 million to $24 million, comes as Long Island grapples with record high opioid-related deaths.
Last year 493 people died of opioid overdoses — 303 in Suffolk and 190 in Nassau — according to county health records.
“President Trump’s nonsensical proposal to gut the Office of National Drug Control Policy is the most destructive contribution he’s made yet to the fight against the opioid and heroin epidemic,” said Schumer, the U.S. Senate minority leader.
A draft memo provided to reporters Friday outlined the Trump administration’s proposed cuts, which includes eliminating the “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program” and the “Drug-Free Communities Support Program.” Both provide federal funding to local law enforcement agencies in areas known to be hotbeds for drug trafficking.
Asked about the cuts, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters Friday that the proposed budget is not final.
“I certainly wouldn’t get ahead of conversations about the budget,” Sanders said, adding that “the president has been very clear that the opioid epidemic is a huge priority for him.”
Schumer said “Senate Democrats will never vote to defund these vital programs” and noted that there were also Republicans against the cuts.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has publicly denounced the proposed cuts, telling reporters Friday that the drug “agency is critical to our efforts to combat drug abuse in general.”
“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,” Portman said.