McMorris Rodgers, WA Delegation seek answers on Inslee's Plan to Fund Local Efforts to Combat Opioid Epidemic


August 24, 2023

-File photo

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers

SPOKANE–Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) joined seven members of the Washington congressional delegation in calling on Governor Jay Inslee to provide answers about the state's long-term plan to reduce critical Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) funding for regional drug task forces that help local communities fight the opioid epidemic on Aug. 15.

In a bipartisan letter, the lawmakers emphasized the importance of Byrne JAG funding to the work of the 16 active multi-jurisdictional task forces (MJTFs) in Washington state.

"For the last seventeen years, Byrne JAG has been a stable source of funding for MJTFs in Washington, enabling them to carry out operations, purchase new equipment and hire personnel. Eliminating Byrne JAG funding for MJTFs - without first guaranteeing an alternative funding source - could prove disastrous for Washington," the lawmakers wrote.

The bipartisan letter was also signed by Reps. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Kim Schrier (WA-08) and Marilyn Strickland (WA-10).

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program is the leading source of federal justice funding for states, tribes and local governments supporting a range of criminal legal system improvement and community advancement initiatives, including MJTFs. Washington MJTFs need more, not fewer, resources to overcome unprecedented challenges, including record-breaking drug trafficking across the U.S.-Canada border.

In February, monthly drug seizures at the U.S.-Canada border hit a three-year high with more than 27,600 pounds of illegal drugs confiscated. In addition, a total of 559,396 fentanyl pills were seized by the Whatcom Gang and Drug Task Force in 2022, significantly up from 142,877 pills in 2021 and 20,050 pills in 2020.


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