House Increases Funding to Fight Meth
Friday, June 17, 2005
Walden calls added funding essential for rural Oregon
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. House of Representatives late yesterday approved legislation that included increased funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and Edward Byrne Memorial Grant programs that would aid rural communities in their fight against illegal drugs. U.S. Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) called the additional funding essential for rural Oregon.
"If there's one thing I learned after hosting seven forums on methamphetamine abuse across rural Oregon this spring, it's that in addition to more access to treatment, Congress must adequately fund the COPS and Byrne Grant programs to provide our law enforcement community with the resources needed to shut down meth labs and lock up meth dealers," said Walden, who is a member of the Congressional Caucus to Fight and Control Methamphetamine. "Our successful efforts in the House this week to increase funding levels for these programs tells you that more and more members of Congress are beginning to understand just how big a problem meth abuse has become and they are placing a high priority on efforts to combat it."
In addition to supporting an increase of $62 million in funding for COPS and Byrne Grants beyond the committee-passed version of the legislation, Walden has also called on House leadership to act on bills this summer that would provide resources and tools to law enforcement and prosecutors to crack down on producers and distributors of meth, increase community awareness and establish new treatment options; call on the Environmental Protection Agency to create guidelines for the clean-up of land contaminated by former meth labs; and increase the maximum sentencing allowable for those who produce meth in the presence of a child.
"We also have to stop the flow of precursor chemicals that meth cooks use to boil up this poison. Oregon has shown strong leadership in this effort, and it's time for the nation to adopt similar standards," said Walden, who also serves on the Speaker's Task Force for a Drug Free America.
In February and March, Walden organized and hosted seven forums across the vast Second District to learn about how methamphetamine abuse was affecting communities as well as learn what measures he could work on federally to help combat this scourge.
"I came away from the forums with a profound concern about the highly addictive and destructive nature of methamphetamine. Families are torn apart, lives are destroyed and treatment is difficult to get. Every case of termination of parental rights in Oregon last year stemmed from methamphetamine abuse. This problem is as serious as it is costly," he said.
The funding was included in the Science, State, Justice and Commerce appropriations bill approved late yesterday in the House. The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.