Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Testing Your Patience (And Everything Else)

Don't look now, but Republicans have once again used the Congressional Review Act to kill an Obama executive action.  This time the plan is to overturn an Obama-era Labor Department rule that limited what occupations states could demand drug testing for unemployment benefits for.  Those limits are expected to be abolished this week when Trump signs the bill, meaning states can now require drug testing for anyone to receive federal jobless benefits as long as the occupation is "regularly drug tested" (which in 2017 is everyone.  You know, except Congress.)

Senators voted along party lines 51-48 under the Congressional Review Act to cut the rule. The legislation already passed the House and now heads to President Trump's desk, where he is expected to sign it.

Under a 2012 law, states can only drug test individuals applying for unemployment benefits if they were previously fired for drug use or work in jobs for which workers are regularly drug tested. The Obama rule specified a list of jobs the could be included under the law.

Republicans have argued the Obama regulation amounted to a federal overreach that limited a state's ability to determine its own drug testing policy.

"As we saw too often, the Obama administration went beyond its legal authority in creating legislation that limits the role of state governments," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said from the Senate floor.

He added that the Labor Department "should go back to the drawing board."

The Trump administration has also voiced support for getting rid of the rule, arguing its definition of occupations is too narrow and limits a states ability to drug test.

But Democrats warn that by nixing the rule lawmakers will be allowing states the ability to randomly drug test workers who through no fault of their own are unemployed, poor or in need of public assistance.

"This idea that there is a presumption of irresponsible conduct and guilt is just baseless," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said from the Senate floor.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in court, I'm sure new state laws for drug testing everyone will run into roadblocks in the judicial, just as states testing everyone on cash assistance programs.

Still, don't tell me about how the parties are the same, especially you folks in states where pot is now legal.

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