A key pillar of President Biden’s Unity Agenda, White House calls on Congress to act urgently to save American lives by fast-tracking efforts to stop drug trafficking and provide additional resources to communities
Washington, D.C. – Today, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Dr. Rahul Gupta released the following statement on President Biden’s supplemental funding request, which urges Congress to help strengthen efforts to address the nation’s overdose epidemic:
“When President Biden announced beating the overdose epidemic as one of the key pillars of his Unity Agenda, he knew our nation must come together to address this crisis and save lives,” said Dr. Gupta. “Two years into his Administration, thanks to historic funding and bipartisan efforts, overdose death rates are flattening, access to treatment is expanding, and we are seizing historic amounts of fentanyl at our borders. Now is a critical inflection point. We are calling on Congress to help us continue taking aggressive action to stop drug trafficking and save lives.”
In the supplemental funding request submitted to Congress today, President Biden is requesting nearly $800 million for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reduce the supply of illicit drugs like fentanyl and to expand access to addiction care.
This request would provide $350 million to HHS for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Funding would be used for grants to States, Territories and Tribal Nations, through the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant program, providing funding for prevention, treatment, case management, support and recovery services. The SOR grant program has provided treatment services to over 1.2 million people and helped reverse more than 400,000 overdoses. Of this amount, $50 million would be transferred to the Indian Health Service for prevention, treatment, recovery support services, and harm reduction interventions.
This request includes $323 million for DHS to continue to expand deployment of Non-Intrusive Inspection Systems, with a primary focus on fentanyl detection at ports of entry. The request also includes around $116 million for other DHS and DOJ activities to counter drug trafficking. These investments will crack down on a major avenue of fentanyl trafficking, securing our border and keeping dangerous drugs from reaching our communities.
During his first State of the Union address, President Biden announced beating the overdose epidemic as one of the four pillars of his Unity Agenda, focused on issues where all Americans can come together and make progress for the nation. The Biden-Harris Administration has made this issue a top priority, and taken historic actions over the past two years to address substance use, protect public health and public safety, go after drug traffickers’ profits, and save lives.
After years of rapid increases in the overdose death rate from 2019-2021, the U.S. has begun to see continued progress in reversing this trend. Because of decisive actions this Administration has taken to implement President Biden’s National Drug Control Strategy – including removing barriers to addiction treatment, expanding access to naloxone, and targeting drug trafficking operations – the U.S. has now seen a full year of flattening overdose deaths. Today’s supplemental funding request comes at a critical inflection point for our nation as we work to build on this success and save even more lives.
Recent Biden-Harris Administration actions to address the overdose epidemic include:
- Expanding access to life-saving overdose reversal medication. Just last month, the FDA approved another over-the-counter overdose reversal product. The FDA approved the first over-the-counter naloxone nasal spray earlier this spring. This additional approval means more options for consumers and more competition in the market, which will help increase access to this life-saving medication. It also marks the first time a non-profit company has received approval for an overdose reversal product.
- Releasing a national response plan to combat fentanyl combined with xylazine. The White House released a National Response Plan to coordinate a whole-of-government response to fight the dangerous and deadly combination of xylazine mixed with fentanyl. Earlier this spring, Dr. Gupta used an executive designation authority for the first time in U.S. history to designate fentanyl combined with xylazine as an emerging threat to the United States and proactively address this dangerous threat head-on.
- Coordinating a North American public health response. Ministers and Secretaries of Health and Senior Officials from Canada, Mexico, and the United States gathered at the White House for the North American Drug Dialogue (NADD) Public Health Summit to coordinate a trilateral approach to the negative health impact of illicit synthetic drugs use throughout North America.
- Launching the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats. Last month, the Biden-Harris Administration launched the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats that will help accelerate efforts against illicit synthetic drugs and employ coordinated approaches to prevent illicit drug manufacturing, detect emerging drug threats, disrupt trafficking, address illicit finance, and respond to public safety and public health impacts. The Administration brought together more than 80 countries and 11 international organizations to take action knowing that countering illicit synthetic drugs must be a global policy priority.
- Expanding our High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program. The HIDTA program devotes more than $275 million to supporting federal, state, local, and Tribal law enforcement working to stop traffickers across all 50 states. Earlier this summer, the White House announced the designation of nine new counties to the HIDTA Program. The addition of these nine counties to the HIDTA program will allow additional resources to be deployed to areas hardest hit by drug trafficking and overdoses.
- Regulating “precursor” chemicals used to produce illicit fentanyl. At the request of the United States, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) voted to control three chemicals used by drug traffickers to produce illicit fentanyl.
- Convening the Third Meeting of the India-U.S. Counternarcotics Working Group. The Narcotics Control Bureau, India (NCB) hosted the third meeting of the India-U.S. Counternarcotics Working Group (CNWG) in New Delhi where India and the United States signed an Amended Letter of Agreement (ALOA) in the field of narcotics control and law enforcement cooperation between both countries.