Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
I rise in support of this bipartisan amendment, which I am proud to co-lead with Congressman Barr of Kentucky, Congresswoman Sinema of Arizona, and Congressman Biggs of Arizona.
This amendment would increase funding for the National Guard counter-drug program by $3 million dollars, and reduce funding for the Operation and Maintenance, Defense-wide account by a corresponding amount.
If the amendment is adopted, the House will provide $200 million dollars in budget authority for the National Guard counter-drug program, which is approximately the amount that the National Guard Bureau indicates it can execute on an annual basis.
My colleagues and I offered this amendment for a simple reason. We believe the National Guard counter-drug program is important, is effective, and therefore should continue to receive robust funding. This is especially true in light of the opioid epidemic that is harming so many communities and tearing apart so many families throughout the country, including my district in central Florida and Mr. Barr’s district in central and eastern Kentucky.
Under the program, the National Guard Bureau distributes the money it receives from Congress to the national guards in the states and the territories, using a funding allocation model that examines the nature and scope of the drug problem in each jurisdiction.
With this funding, national guards provide many different forms of assistance to law enforcement agencies and community-based organization, including analytical, reconnaissance, and training support. This program is effective because it is targeted and tailored: each state uses its funding in a way that reflects the drug interdiction priorities of its governor, the capabilities of its national guard; and the needs of its law enforcement partners at the federal, state, and local levels.
For example, the Florida National Guard receives about $10 million dollars a year under this program, which it uses to reduce the supply of and demand for illegal drugs in the state. Since 2014, support provided by the Florida National Guard has been instrumental in over 2,000 arrests and the seizure of nearly $14 billion dollars in illicit drugs, property, and cash. National Guards in other states have their own success stories to tell.
In conclusion, I hope my colleagues will support this bipartisan amendment, which is vital to our nation’s efforts to disrupt and dismantle drug-trafficking organizations and to protect our communities and our children from drug-related violence.
I reserve the balance of my time.
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