Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on Sunday slammed House Republicans for proposing that those who receive federal unemployment benefits should be forced to undergo drug testing.
"I think the drug testing thing is a red herring," he told C-SPAN’s Newsmakers. "The reality is that people are not out of work because they have substance abuse problems, people are out of work because there are four people looking for every job that’s available in America."
Florida and Missouri both approved laws this year requiring low-income parents seeking federal cash assistance to pass a drug test, and Republican state lawmakers across the country have pushed for similar laws.
Republicans in the U.S. House have proposed drug testing for unemployment benefit applicants as a part of an extension of unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut.
"We’re willing to look at reforms, but the Republican rhetoric has been insulting to a whole lot of working Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own," Van Hollen continued. "I have to say, this Republican effort to kind of blame people who lost jobs through no fault of their own shows a total insensitivity to the stories that we’re hearing from districts around the country. Frankly I think the American people are hearing that tone and they’re not very appreciative, because they know that everybody, but for the grace of God, could also be in that position."
House Republicans have claimed that drug testing would help prepare the jobless for future employment, where their fate may rest on the results of a drug screening. But critics of government-mandated drug testing say it violates the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
Photo credit: House Committee On Education And The Workforce, Creative Commons licensed