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Keep Meth Fight at Local Level, Rehberg Tells Drug Czar

Location: Washington, DC

Keep Meth Fight at Local Level, Rehberg Tells Drug Czar
September 28, 2005

WASHINGTON, DC - Montana's Congressman Denny Rehberg has told White House drug czar John Walters the administration should remain committed to fighting methamphetamine abuse on the local, as well as the federal, level. Rehberg assailed proposed cuts to HIDTA (the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program) and the Byrne Justice Assistance Program during House consideration.

"My point in being critical of the administration is that I so strongly believe that success begins at the local level. Money for enforcement and prevention is better spent at the local level; these funds should not be siphoned off by the federal government," Rehberg explained. "Fortunately we have a speaker who understands this. Denny Hastert was working on this long before he became Speaker of the House."

Rehberg and Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy, met in Rehberg's Washington office Tuesday afternoon, at Rehberg's request, in order to discuss the fight against methamphetamine abuse.

"What we've seen from the administration is a dangerous movement to federalize this fight. They've proposed cutting funding for the Byrne and HIDTA programs that are crucial to frontline communities like those in Montana that are fighting methamphetamine abuse," Rehberg, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said.

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program enhances and coordinates drug control efforts among local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies. The program provides agencies with coordination, equipment, technology, and additional resources to combat drug trafficking and its harmful consequences in critical regions of the United States. The Byrne Justice Assistance Program provides millions of dollars to crime prevention initiatives. The program funds hundreds of anti-drug task forces throughout the country.

"I'm proud of what Montana has done with these federal grants. I was also proud to tell the drug czar about the Siebel family donations and the Montana Meth Project," Rehberg said. "I hope our efforts in Montana will be used as a model for other states."

In March, Rehberg, before a joint session of the Montana legislature, announced a five-point action plan to help combat methamphetamine abuse in Montana, including directing efforts in Congress to ensure prosecutors and law enforcement have effective tools and training, require federal forfeiture funds to be used for meth waste cleanup, foster ant-drug education programs, equip hospitals and clinics for effective drug-abuse treatment, and urge Canada to join in the fight against meth.

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