OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) have teamed up to introduce a bipartisan bill to block the Biden administration from using federal funds to distribute “crack pipes” to drug users.
The legislation comes in response to reports last week, parts of which were refuted by the administration, that the distribution was being planned as part of a $30 million program by a division within the Department of Health and Human Services.
The two senators on Friday introduced the Preventing Illicit Paraphernalia for Exchange Systems (PIPES) Act, which would prohibit spending federal tax dollars on “crack pipes” and other drug-related paraphernalia, according to The Hill.
“Every American and West Virginian has been impacted by the drug epidemic that has killed over 101,000 Americans from April 2020 to April 2021,” said Manchin in a statement, according to The Hill.
“While this is a heartbreaking issue that must be fully addressed by the federal government, using taxpayer funds to buy paraphernalia for those struggling with substance use disorder is not the solution,” he added.
Rubio also addressed the legislation and the Biden administration’s reported distribution plan.
“Everyone knows someone who has struggled with addiction, and unfortunately, many have lost a loved one from the disease,” he said, the outlet reported.
“Addiction is crippling, not only for the individual but also for the family and communities throughout our country. We need to do more, but sending drug paraphernalia to addicts is not the answer,” he said.
The text of the bill says the PIPES Act would continue the precedent that currently bars the federal government from funding the purchase of needles or syringes for the purpose of injecting illegal drugs. The exceptions include the risk of hepatitis infection or an HIV outbreak resulting from drug use.
The bill also states clearly that federal funds must not be used to procure, supply, or distribute pipes and other paraphernalia that can be used by someone to smoke, inhale, or ingest illegal narcotics, The Hill added.
The Senate bill comes as two GOP House members introduced a similar piece of legislation in their chamber, taking a swipe at President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, an admitted crack addict, in the process.
Officially called the ‘‘Halting the Use of Narcotics Through Effective Recovery Act of 2022,’’ the legislation is known as the ‘‘HUNTER Act of 2022.”
According to its description, the purpose of the legislation is to “prohibit the use of Federal funds to purchase or support the purchase of, drug paraphernalia.”
The bill also states:
(a) IN GENERAL.—No Federal funds, including funds appropriated by section 2706 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (42 U.S.C. 290dd–3 note), may be used for the purchase, or to support the purchase by any recipient of Federal assistance, of any drug paraphernalia.
(b) DEFINITION.—In this section, the term ‘‘drug paraphernalia’’— (1) has the definition given to that term in section 863 of title 18, United States Code; and (2) includes, to the extent covered by such definition, crack pipes, harm reduction vending machines, syringes, and safe smoking kits and supplies.
According to Fox News, “Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Dan Bishop of North Carolina said in an exclusive joint interview with Fox News Digital that the Biden administration got caught ‘red-handed’ trying to fund crack pipes as part of a $30 million grant program and that legislation is needed to stop the ‘ridiculous’ proposal. The White House has denied the grant would fund crack pipes.”
In an interview, Boebert explained the motivation behind the legislation.
“Congressman Bishop and I are standing up and saying, heck no,” Boebert noted.
“Our tax dollars should not be funding the death and destruction of crack addicts. Democrats are always putting the American taxpayer last and Republicans just want to give people in need a good job. Democrats want to give them crack pipes,” she added.