USA Today: Trump White House is months late on required strategy on drugs despite declared emergency

By John Fritze


April 27, 2018


WASHINGTON — Six months after President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, the White House office charged with overseeing his administration’s response has failed to come up with a congressionally mandated strategy to address it.


The Office of National Drug Control Policy, a 30-year-old division of the White House whose director is commonly known as the “drug czar,” is months late with a strategy report that is supposed to lay out a plan for curbing addiction and assess whether agencies are making progress toward that goal.


Advocates said the delay is the latest sign that the administration has largely sidelined an office that is charged with coordinating the federal response to illegal drugs but that has been threatened with budget cuts and has been operating without a Senate-confirmed leader since Trump took office last year.


“The whole point of that office is to write the strategy and have it inform the budget,” said Regina LaBelle, a former chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the Obama administration. “It’s disconcerting.”


The White House is required by law to submit the National Drug Control Strategy to Congress every year in February. The Trump administration did not produce the report last year, and is now three months behind this year’s deadline.