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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Biden administration endorsed a bill Tuesday that would end sentencing disparities for crack versus powder cocaine offenses.

The big picture: Supporting the legislation follows through on one of Biden's campaign promises. But it's a shift from decades ago, when Biden spearheaded efforts to pass the legislation that implemented the disparities in the first place.

  • Critics have said the law which made the disparity, which has come to be known as the "100 to 1 rule," has had a disproportionate effect on Black Americans.
  • It enforced a five-year minimum sentence for trafficking in 500 grams of powder cocaine, or five grams of crack.

Driving the news: Regina LaBelle, acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, endorsed the EQUAL Act during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday. The bill would give individuals convicted or sentenced for a federal cocaine offense a re-sentencing.

Between the lines: Biden's attitude toward drug laws has largely evolved over the course of his tenure in elected office. He introduced legislation to close the gap during his final years in the Senate.

What they're saying: “The current disparity is not based on evidence yet has caused significant harm for decades, particularly to individuals, families, and communities of color,” LaBell said.

  • “The continuation of this sentencing disparity is a significant injustice in our legal system, and it is past time for it to end. Therefore, the administration urges the swift passage of the ‘Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law Act.’"
  • Holly Harris, the president and executive director of the Justice Action Network, told the Washington Post that the White House's endorsement was "remarkable," and added: "We urge leadership in both chambers to prioritize this legislation, end this decades-long injustice, and help law enforcement build trust with the communities they serve.”

Go deeper

Aug 10, 2021 - Health

Waiting for Biden's drug pricing plan

A nurse administers an IV drug. Photo: Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The Biden administration axed Trump's proposed rule that would have tied some Medicare drug prices to lower overseas prices, but that regulation in its current form had almost no chance of being enacted.

What to watch: Biden's recent executive order mandates HHS to create a "comprehensive plan ... to combat high prescription drug prices and price gouging" by Aug. 23. That plan will give the clearest picture yet of what Biden will try to do to lower drug prices.

Updated 34 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

CDC director says COVID-19 messaging should have been clearer

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the messaging around the COVID-19 pandemic and changing guidance should have been clearer.

State of play: Walensky is being coached by media experts and is planning to have more press briefings by herself in order to ensure that CDC is seen as an independent, scientific entity, rather than as a political one, the Journal reports.

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