Congress sends Trump measure for drug testing unemployed

President Donald Trump is expected to soon sign a measure that will expand the number of applicants for unemployment benefits who can be drug tested, eliminating a regulation that the Obama administration put in place last year.

The White House announced in February, after the resolution was passed by the House, that Trump would sign it to help "nullify unnecessary regulations."

On Tuesday, the measure passed in the Senate with a party-line vote, all but signaling an end to the Department of Labor rule that GOP lawmakers complained placed restrictions on states' ability to decide whether unemployment applicants can be drug tested.

Following the vote, Sen. Ted Cruz said that Congress wanted to let the states determine which unemployment applicants should be drug tested.

"The Obama Department of Labor substantially narrowed the law to circumstances where testing is legally required, not merely allowed," Cruz said.

The rule, which went into effect Sept. 30 last year, was a provision implemented in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, that more specifically stated when a person can be drug tested when applying for unemployment benefits. 

Under the rule, an applicant can only be tested if he or she worked for a job that did regular drug screenings. Some of the specific listings included jobs in transit, aviation, commercial driving and ones that require the use of a gun.

In California, unemployment insurance applicants do not get drug tested before receiving benefits.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said that the new rule could lead to too many people being drug tested, and that "if you're looking for work, you're guilty of drug use until being proven innocent."

In a letter to Congress before the Tuesday vote, the Drug Policy Alliance, a coalition of civil rights, faith and criminal justice organizations, criticized the resolution, stating that "what is really at issue is a desire to conduct broader drug testing."

"Working people paid for this insurance policy, and jobless workers earned the right to access UI through their service to their employer," the coalition said. "Proposals to drug test UI beneficiaries needlessly stigmatize and punish jobless workers and their families who are trying to get back on their feet."

Copyright 2017 KXTV


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