Walden Supports House Efforts to Provide Resources for the Fight Against Meth
Thursday, June 30, 2005
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), a member of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus to Fight and Control Methamphetamine, today issued the following statement on the heels of the House passage of more than $80 million in additional funding for the fight against methamphetamine in the House version of funding bills for fiscal year 2006:
"Three of the most important messages that came out of the meth forums I held around our district were: to make sure that law enforcement had the resources they needed to fight methamphetamine, that we did more with international interdiction to prevent bulk methamphetamine from coming into this country, and third, to make sure we had the help for our High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area teams in central and southern Oregon.
"The votes this last week have upped the funding for all three of those categories, which I think will help with our war on methamphetamine. This is big problem, and we are stepping up to do the right thing."
Last night, Walden cast the latest in a series of votes to increase federal investments to fight the meth epidemic over levels established by the Appropriations Committee. He supported a $9 million increase in funding for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, which provides funding to targeted counties known to have an extreme meth distribution and trafficking problem. Oregon has seven HIDTA counties; Jackson and Deschutes counties are the two located in Oregon's Second Congressional District.
In total, the House has voted to increase meth funding by more than $80 million during recent consideration of funding bills. In addition to the $9 million added to the HIDTA program last night, a total of $62 million was added to the Community Oriented Policing program and Byrne Memorial Grant program, both of which provide critical funds to local law enforcement, treatment professionals and prevention organizations battling meth on the frontlines every day, and an additional $10 million was sent to the Drug Enforcement Agency for their work to curb the international trafficking of meth and its precursor ingredients such as pseudoephedrine.
"The epidemic we have faced in rural Oregon for a long while is becoming a reality in many areas - urban and rural - across the country, and it is an alarming reality. I welcome the assistance of my colleagues to help shed light on this issue and deliver congressional support to a grueling fight that must be won," said Walden.
Walden has been an active leader in the Congress on efforts to combat meth, which is especially prevalent in rural communities throughout the nation.
This morning, Walden was in a meeting of the Congressional Rural Caucus which featured a panel representing retail industries that sell pseudoephedrine to discuss its regulations at both the international and retail levels. At the meeting, Walden pointed out the need to find a balance between providing consumers access to medication while limiting access to ingredients that can be used to produce meth.
"I recognize the importance of maintaining convenient access to useful medications for consumers, but given the enormous threat our communities face with the production of methamphetamine across the nation, we must make it a priority to limit access to precursor ingredients nationwide," Walden told the panel. Walden is co-sponsor of HR 314, which would make pseudoephedrine a Schedule V drug, requiring behind-the-counter sale nationwide.
The Senate will now take action on their version of the various funding bills and the two chambers will come together in a conference committee to iron out differences between them. "I hope the Senate will join with the House in this commitment to providing resources for the fight against meth. I look forward to continuing my work here in the nation's capital and back in Oregon on finding a solution to this problem."