The Biden administration quickly reversed course on a plan to fund “smoking kits” for drug users, apparently including pipes to smoke crack cocaine, but Senate Republicans introduced legislation to ensure it doesn’t happen. 

The bill would amend a section of last year’s American Rescue Plan Act to prohibit any taxpayer funds from being used to directly or indirectly purchase, supply, or distribute crack pipes or similar drug paraphernalia. 

Senate Republicans dubbed the legislation the Cutting Off Rampant Access to Crack Kits Act, or CRACK Act. 

“The thought of taxpayer money funding crack pipe distributions could not be more ludicrous,” Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., a chief sponsor of the bill, said in a public statement Friday, adding:

But after a year of ludicrous policies and conflicting statements from the Biden administration, Republicans are leaving nothing up to chance. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill to ensure our federal government does not fuel dangerous drug addictions at the expense of American taxpayers.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., another sponsor of the bill, called the idea of paying for addicts’ crack pipes “pure insanity.”

The Washington Free Beacon first reported Monday that President Joe Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services was set to fund distribution of crack pipes to drug addicts. The funding was part of a $30 million “Harm Reduction Program Grant” that included “safe smoking kits/supplies,” according to an HHS document. 

The smoking kits are called “safe” because the Department of Health and Human Services says the program would reduce use of glass pipes that lead to cuts and infections. The Free Beacon reported that HHS was prioritizing “underserved communities,” which include African Americans and “LGBTQ+ persons.”

The president’s son, Hunter Biden, struggled with a widely reported crack addiction. The younger Biden recalls 15 years of rehab and relapse in a memoir, “Beautiful Things,” released last year. 

After news of the funds for smoking kits created a political uproar, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and National Drug Control Policy Director Dr. Rahul Gupta announced Thursday in a joint public statement that the Biden administration was reversing course. 

“HHS and ONDCP are focused on using our resources smartly to reduce harm and save lives,” the officials’ joint statement reads. “Accordingly, no federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement of grantees to put pipes in safe smoking kits.”

The agency’s reversal didn’t please everyone. The left-leaning Drug Policy Alliance accused the Biden administration of caving to criticism. 

In a written statement, Kassandra Frederique, the group’s executive director, said:

Backtracking on providing critical evidence-based resources that could greatly improve the health of people who consume drugs through smoking is a huge missed opportunity that will disproportionately be felt in Black and Indigenous communities, especially as these communities have experienced some of the sharpest increases in overdose deaths involving fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Congress should act to ensure the Biden administration doesn’t bring the idea back, Rubio said.

“I am glad the Biden administration acknowledges sending crack pipes to our nation’s addicts is a bad idea,” Rubio said in a public statement Friday, adding:

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.

Other GOP co-sponsors of the CRACK Act include Sens. Joni Ernst and Charles Grassley of Iowa; Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy of Louisiana; Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma;  Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia; Mike Braun of Indiana; Rick Scott of Florida; Steve Daines of Montana; Thom Tillis of North Carolina; John Boozman and Tom Cotton of Arkansas; John Thune of South Dakota; and John Barrasso of Wyoming.

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