A federal program designed to fight regional drug activity has received a significant boost in federal funds over the past couple of years.
The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, or HIDTA, dedicates resources to fight drug activity in high-traffic and high-use areas. In Montana, that includes six counties: Cascade, Flathead, Gallatin, Lewis and Clark, Yellowstone, and Missoula.
Speaking to law enforcement and community leaders at Riverstone Health Clinic in Billings this week, Vice President Mike Pence praised HIDTA.
“The HIDTA program, working with local law enforcement, has been intervening as never before,” he said.
Funding for the HIDTA program increased by about $20 million over the last decade or so, seeing its highest appropriation in fiscal years 2018 and 2019 at $280 million. That’s despite proposed changes.
Since 2017, the Trump Administration has proposed cuts and sought to pass oversight from the Office of National Drug Control Policy to the Justice Department.
The administration says the program is duplicative. Its proposed budget for 2020 would cut just over $25 million from the existing HIDTA budget.
Montana’s Democratic U.S. Senator, Jon Tester, is urging Congress to fund HIDTA at its current level through next year.
Congress is slated to finalize the budget in September.