Portman, Capito unveil Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act

U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) on Jan. 22 proposed a bipartisan bill to provide the administrator of the Drug-Free Communities Support Program the authority to waive the federal fund limitation for the Drug-Free Communities Support Program during the ongoing pandemic.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a heartbreaking surge in overdose deaths, which is why it is essential that we give these coalitions the flexibility they need in order to keep their programs running,” said Sen. Portman, who sponsored the Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act, S. 26, with original cosponsors Sen. Capito and U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). 

If enacted, S. 26 would provide flexibility to Drug-Free Communities coalitions by temporarily allowing the Office of National Drug Control Policy the authority to waive the program’s local matching requirements if the grantee is unable to meet them during the pandemic.

“While we continue to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot forget about our ongoing battle against substance abuse,” said Sen. Capito. “The Drug-Free Communities program has made a difference in the lives of young people in West Virginia, and during these tough times, we must give this program the flexibility it needs to continue its critical work.”

Sen. Portman pointed out that the Drug-Free Communities program is a proven, evidence-based and community-oriented program that reduces substance abuse among America’s youth. “I authored this legislation more than 20 years ago during my time in the House of Representatives, and it remains today the most effective program for consistently reducing youth drug use,” he said.

Additionally, the grants will help those on the frontlines in Ohio and elsewhere around the country combat the drug crisis, Sen. Portman said. 

“I have seen firsthand that prevention is a powerful tool to counteract drug use in our community, and this funding helps youth throughout Ohio make better, more healthy choices,” said Sen. Portman. “It is imperative, now more than ever, that we work together to combat the crisis of addiction gripping our country.”

“Grant matching requirements are the last thing struggling communities should be worried about during these times,” added Sen. Capito.

S. 26 is supported by Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse, the Association for Addiction Professionals, and the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, among others.