Senate Republicans move to cut off federal funds for crack pipes

Senate Republicans move to cut off federal funds for crack pipes

Senate Republicans on Thursday introduced legislation that would prohibit any federal spending that directly or indirectly purchases, supplies or distributes crack pipes or similar drug paraphernalia to addicts.

Known as the Cutting off Rampant Access to Crack Kits or the  CRACK Act, the bill would make these changes by amending President Biden’s coronavirus relief package that was enacted last year.

Spearheaded by Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, the anti-crack pipe bill was in response to a Washington Free Beacon report that part of the $30 million grant program would go toward “smoking kits/supplies,” which usually includes crack pipes.

The Biden administration insisted the federal government does not fund crack pipes or reimburse grantees who put them in safe smoking kits.

“They were never part of the kit, it was inaccurate reporting,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

Ms. Psaki said the kits will include items like alcohol swabs and lip balm to reduce the chances of transmitting diseases as part of harm-reduction programs that are usually aimed at reducing opioid overdoses.

“HHS and ONDCP are focused on using our resources smartly to reduce harm and save lives,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Rahul Gupta said in a statement. “Accordingly, no federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement of grantees to put pipes in safe smoking kits. The goal of harm reduction is to save lives.”

Sec. Becerra went on to say, “The administration is focused on a comprehensive strategy to stop the spread of drugs and curb addiction, including prioritizing the use of proven harm reduction strategies like providing naloxone, fentanyl test strips, and clean syringes, as well as taking decisive actions to go after violent criminals who are trafficking illicit drugs like fentanyl across our borders and into our communities.”

Mr. Rubio, whose bill has the support of 15 Republicans, said he is glad that the administration “acknowledges sending crack pipes to our nation’s addicts is a bad idea.”

“It is pure insanity to think the federal government would fund crack pipe distribution. This legislation will make certain the program can never pay for crack pipes, and given the Biden Administration’s position I look forward to their vigorous support.”

• Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this article.

Health, The New York Today