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The claim alludes to a Biden administration anti-drug abuse program. Grant money from the program can be used for a variety of efforts, including providing safe-smoking kits, which are intended to reduce disease among illegal drug users that is caused by the sharing of smoking materials. We found no evidence the kits are aimed at children.
Federal officials said the funds cannot be used to provide pipes.
There is no federal mandate requiring children to wear masks in schools. Within the next several weeks, fewer than a dozen states will have such mandates as part of their efforts to fight COVID-19.
U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls, a Texas Republican running for re-election, was quick with an attack on President Joe Biden with a claim that linked illegal drug use with COVID-19 face coverings.
"In Joe Biden’s America, your children are more likely to have access to a crack pipe than a mask free education," the former Houston-area sheriff declared in a Facebook ad posted Feb. 9.
The same day, news reports across the country had already begun dousing the idea that a Biden administration initiative would result in the distribution of free crack pipes to illegal drug users — much less targeting children.
Meanwhile, there is no federal mandate for mask wearing in schools, and a growing number of states that have such mandates are ending them.
Nehls’ claim followed a notice by the Health and Human Services Department that it was accepting applications through Feb. 7 for "Harm Reduction Program Grants."
The purpose of the program is "to support community-based overdose prevention programs, syringe services programs and other harm reduction services," including providing "safe smoking kits," the notice said.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that a Health and Human Services Department spokesman, whom it did not identify, said the kits "will provide pipes for users to smoke crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, and ‘any illicit substance.’"
That contention was quickly shot down.
On Feb. 9, the same day Nehls’ ad was posted, the department issued a statement saying "no federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement of grantees to put pipes in safe smoking kits."
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the same day that crack pipes "were never a part of the kit; it was inaccurate reporting." She said a safe smoking kit "may contain alcohol swabs, lip balm, other materials to promote hygiene and reduce the transmission of diseases like HIV and hepatitis."
We found no suggestion that safe smoking kits were aimed at children, as Nehls suggested.
The day Nehls posted his ad, there was also news about school mask mandates being lifted across the country.
As of Feb. 5, 14 states required masks to be worn in schools, down from 19 earlier in the school year, Education Week reported.
There is no federal mandate for masks in schools. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal indoor masking by students age 2 years and older, as well as by staff, teachers, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.
Nehls had more than $367,000 in campaign funds on hand as of Dec. 31, according to the latest Federal Election Commission reports. The only other Republican on the ballot, certified public accountant Gregory Thorne, reported raising no funds.
Nehls’ campaign did not reply to our requests for information to back up his claim.
Nehls claimed: "In Joe Biden’s America, your children are more likely to have access to a crack pipe than a mask-free education."
The claim alludes to a Biden administration program that provides grants for efforts to curb injuries and deaths from drug abuse, including providing "safe-smoking kits" that are aimed at preventing the sharing of smoking materials. Federal officials said the grants cannot be used to provide pipes. The program is not aimed at children.
There is no federal mandate requiring children to wear masks in schools, and in the coming weeks, fewer than a dozen states will have such mandates.
Nehls’ claim is false and ridiculous — Pants on Fire!
Facebook, Troy Nehls ad, Feb. 9, 2022
Washington Free Beacon, "Biden Admin To Fund Crack Pipe Distribution To Advance ‘Racial Equity,’" Feb. 7, 2022
Health and Human Services Department, "FY 2022 Harm Reduction Program Grant Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) No. SP-22-001," accessed Feb. 10, 2022
AFP Fact Check, "US grant program is not funding crack pipes for addicts," Feb. 10, 2022
The White House, "Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki," Feb. 9, 2022
Health and Human Services Department, statement, Feb. 9, 2022
Snopes, "Did Biden Admin ‘Fund Crack Pipes’ To ‘Advance Racial Equity’?", published Feb. 8 2022; updated Feb. 9, 2022
Lead Stories: "Fact Check: Biden Administration Is NOT Funding 'Crack Pipes, Heroin' For Drug Use," Feb. 8, 2022
Washington Post, "No, the federal government isn’t spending $30 million on ‘crack pipes,’" Feb. 9, 2022
Fox 8, "Free crack pipes? Truth behind Biden admin safe smoking kits program," Feb. 9, 2022
Education Week, "Which States Ban Mask Mandates in Schools, and Which Require Masks?", published Aug. 20, 2021; updated Feb. 9, 2022
NPR, "States are ending mask mandates. Is that a good idea for school students?", Feb. 9, 2022
Houston Chronicle, "Editorial: We recommend Troy Nehls in GOP primary for the 22nd Congressional District," posted Jan. 31, 2022; updated: Feb. 1, 2022
District Administration, "Mask tracker: 6 states are dropping school mandates in the coming weeks," Feb. 10, 2022
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