Georgia Congressman introduces welfare drug testing legislation

Last month, Georgia Congressman Earl Carter introduced legislation that would allow states to conduct drug tests for Unemployment Insurance applicants.
The Ensuring Quality in the Unemployment Insurance Program (EQUIP) Act was introduced by Carter on July 20, and would allow states to require anyone receiving Unemployment benefits insurance to take a substance abuse risk assessment.

“The Unemployment Insurance program is an important safety net program for Americans across the country,” Carter said.

“I introduced this legislation because it gives states the ability to ensure the resources of this program are going to those who truly need it while saving taxpayer dollars in the process.

Unemployment Insurance recipients should be drug-free and ready to reenter the workforce and my legislation works to make that happen.” The test would use a screening instrument approved by the National Institutes of Health that is designed to determine if an individual is at high risk for substance abuse.

Those determined to be at high risk for drug abuse would have to submit to a drug screening before receiving unemployment benefits.

A controversial topic

Welfare drug testing has been a controversial topic for the last few years, with supporters of the process claiming it to be a money-saving measure. Critics on such legislation, however, 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. Earlier this year, Congress struck down a Department of Labor rule prohibiting states from drug testing for unemployment benefits.

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