(The Center Square) – U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and John Kennedy, R-La., introduced new legislation Thursday that would block American Rescue Plan taxpayer dollars from being used to purchase and distribute crack pipes.
The Cutting Rampant Access to Crack Kits (CRACK) Act of 2022 comes after the Washington Free Beacon reported federal taxpayer dollars had gone to a program that provides syringes and pipes to drug users as a form of “harm reduction.”
“The Biden administration wants to spend millions of dollars helping drug users smoke crack and meth, but there is no safe way to smoke these dangerous drugs,” Kennedy said. “Sooner or later, these drugs kill people. Why wouldn’t the president spend this money to help people get off crack and meth or to stop these drugs from crossing the border into our country in the first place?”
The three-year, $30 million harm reduction grant program in question was funded through President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed by Democrats in March of last year. The grant includes, among other things, syringes and “safe smoking kits/supplies” as an approved use of federal funds. The Washington Free Beacon reported that a Health and Human Services official told them the smoking kits include pipes.
“I’m grateful to partner with Sen. Rubio to make sure taxpayer dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act don’t end up funding crack pipes,” Kennedy added.
After the story broke, the Department of Health and Human Services released a statement saying crack pipes would not be included in the program. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has disputed the crack pipe story, saying pipes were never part of the program.
Critics argue that pipes are often included in smoking kits and say the administration has shifted its stance after the pushback. They also point out groups and local governments have distributed pipes in the past as part of smoking kits.
One group, the National Drug Policy Alliance, released a statement disapproving of the administration’s decision to “remove” pipes as an approved use.
“Harm reduction works to meet people where they are at, and keep people free of diseases and alive so they have a chance of recovery and healing,” NDPA wrote on Twitter. “That’s why [HHS] and [the White House Office of National Drug Control’s] decision today to remove pipes from safe smoking equipment is deeply disappointing. This is a missed opportunity to be preventative of more deaths due to overdose. Giving clean drug-using equipment such as a pipe [and] syringe reduces transmission of disease including Hep. C [and] HIV. When this is done in a supportive setting, we can link people who use drugs chaotically to other services including treatment, doctors, [and] getting access to naloxone.
“Giving clean drug-using equipment such as a pipe [and] syringe reduces transmission of disease including Hep. C [and] HIV,” the group added.