House Republicans vote to expand welfare drug testing

House Joint Resolution 42 would repeal a Labor Department rule that limits drug testing to two circumstances. Currently, benefits applicants can be tested if they were terminated from their previous job due to illegal use of a controlled substance or if the only available suitable work for an individual is in an occupation that requires drug testing. Repealing this rule will, essentially, mean that anyone who applies for unemployment benefits could face mandatory drug testing, with or without reasonable suspicion. Critics on such legislation point to the high cost and low return of welfare drug testing. For example, ThinkProgress found that $850,909.25 was spent on testing welfare applicants in 2015. Only 321 tests came back with positive results. This data was found after a February 2015 examination of the seven states that had implemented drug testing programs for TANF applicants and/or recipients. Several states recorded zero positive tests. More than 50 civil rights, faith, and criminal justice organizations, including the ACLU, the Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and the NAACP have signed on to a letter opposing this new measure and questioning its constitutionality.]]>

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