REMINDER: MAGA Republicans Undermined President Biden’s Work to Fight Fentanyl At The Border, Combat Opioid Crisis

While 2024 GOP presidential candidates were all bluster on border safety on the debate stage tonight, the truth is: MAGA Republicans have actively tried to undermine President Biden’s work to combat fentanyl trafficking at the border and keep Americans safe. 

Cuts proposed by MAGA Republicans in Congress could lead to thousands fewer border patrol agents and thousands more pounds of fentanyl and other drugs being allowed into the country.

The Hill: “Bates claimed that the bill, if enacted, would result in the termination of 2,000 Border Patrol agents, slash the budget of the Drug Enforcement Agency and allow 150,000 pounds of cocaine, 900 pounds of fentanyl, 2,000 pounds of heroin and 17,000 pounds of methamphetamine into the U.S.”

Government Executive: “In response to inquiries from congressional Democrats, agency officials have suggested the cuts included in the Limit, Save and Grow Act would force layoffs, furloughs, hiring freezes or other means to trim workforce costs. Customs and Border Protection said, for example, it would be forced to shed 2,400 front-line agents and officers, while the Justice Department said the FBI would lose 11,000 agents.”

Reality check for the GOP: President Biden’s budget proposed major investments in border security, and he signed into law a major funding boost for border patrol last year.

USA Today: “In his proposed 2024 budget, the president would allocate nearly $25 billion to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It’s a nearly $800 million increase over the 2023 enacted level.”

Government Executive: “Border Patrol is in line for a whopping 17% funding boost, which includes the funding for 300 new Border Patrol agents that the Biden administration had repeatedly stressed as necessary to handle the record-high numbers of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.”

MAGA Republicans in the House brought America to the brink of shutdown and then paralyzed Congress with their inability to choose their own speaker, while doing nothing to pass the nearly $800 million in additional funding the White House requested to fight fentanyl trafficking and drug addiction and overdoses.

NBC: “The White House on Thursday asked Congress for nearly $800 million in additional funding to fight drug addiction and overdoses, which killed more than 100,000 people in the U.S. last year, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

The Hill:  “The White House on Tuesday attacked House Republicans over fentanyl, saying allowing a government shutdown would mean not providing funding to fight trafficking of the drug.”

NBC: “White House presses for money to prevent opioid deaths as congressional dysfunction stymies aid”

Let’s not forget that fentanyl trafficking at the border began to spike under the Trump administration. “The amount seized accelerated dramatically toward the end of fiscal 2020, while Trump was still president, when there was a 190% increase from 233 pounds seized in May to 676 pounds in June. May 2020 was the last time there were fewer than 600 pounds of fentanyl seized at the southwest border in a single month, and the largest monthly haul to date was 1,171 pounds in October 2020, the start of the 2021 fiscal year.” “But the fiscal year comparisons obscure the fact that the steep rise in seized fentanyl started in mid-2020 under Trump, as the chart above illustrates. In fact, 36% of the fentanyl seized in FY 2021 was during the first four months of that fiscal year, when Trump was president for a full 111 of those 123 days.”

Finally, Trump’s proposed budgets would have slashed funding for substance abuse treatment and the office that coordinates White House drug policies.

Washington Post: “Every year since taking office, President Trump has proposed gutting the office charged with coordinating the response to the nation’s opioid crisis. His 2020 budget is no different: it seeks to slash the Office of National Drug Control Policy by 95 percent — even as a record high of 70,000 people died from overdoses in 2017.”

Politico: “[Trump’s FY18 budget proposal] would target the federal mental health and substance abuse treatment agency with nearly $400 million in cuts while keeping funding for many initiatives aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic flat. The budget for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration cuts the Community Mental Health Services block grant by $116 million and reduces other state mental health grants by $136 million. Substance abuse treatment grants for states would fall by $73 million and public awareness programs would decline by $74 million.”