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Sen. Cotton Killed Approval of Bill Equalizing Crack-Powder Sentences

Sen. Tom Cotton (R–AR) single-handedly stopped the Senate from considering the EQUAL Act, which would eliminate the distinction between the smoked and snorted versions of cocaine, reports Reason. That bill was proposed as an addition to the catch-all spending package approved by Congress last week. Sen. Cory Booker (D–NJ) responded to Cotton by seeking unanimous consent to release the stand-alone version of the EQUAL Act from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Cotton objected.

These setbacks show how difficult it is to get even modest drug policy reforms with wide bipartisan support through Congress, Reason says. They also illustrate a broader problem with the way Congress operates. Legislators routinely avoid their responsibility to approve appropriations in a timely fashion, leaving myriad decisions until the last minute. The result is gargantuan spending bills that no one has time to read, let alone carefully consider. Those bills are tempting vehicles for unrelated legislation that Congress might (or might not) have approved separately if a vote had been allowed. The omnibus spending bill, a.k.a. the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2023, is 4,155 pages long. It was released last week, three days before the deadline for approving it.


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