March 15, 2017

Van Hollen Statement in Opposition to the Resolution to Disapprove of the DOL Drug Testing Rule

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen submitted the following statement to the congressional record in opposition to the Resolution to Disapprove of the DOL Drug Testing Rule:

"MR. PRESIDENT, I rise in opposition to H.J.Res.42 today, a bill in search of a problem. Back in 2012, Congress passed legislation to extend temporary unemployment insurance as our country worked to recover from the recession. That legislation included a bipartisan compromise that allowed states to drug test people applying for unemployment compensation if they were fired from their previous job for drug use or they were pursuing employment in a field that regularly required drug testing for safety reasons. The Department of Labor was charged with determining those occupations.

This guidance is critical, because courts have twice ruled against states who implemented blanket testing for TANF benefits. Without probably cause, they ruled that such testing violated constitutional rights. By overriding the Department of Labor's rule, states are left in confusion.

My colleagues on the other side of the aisle might argue that the authority to drug test is important to help save money in the program. There is no clear evidence that this is the case. There is also no convincing evidence of rampant drug use among beneficiaries. States have engaged in drug testing for TANF recipients with remarkably few results. In Oklahoma in 2015, nearly 90 percent of those required to take a drug test had a negative result for drug use. In Fiscal Year 2014, Utah's drug testing returned just 18 positive results. As of 2016, only 0.1 percent of all applicants for Tennessee's cash assistance program tested positive.

Mr. President, we all acknowledge an opioid crisis in our communities. Instead of using resources to help people access treatment programs, we're debating creating costly drug testing programs that have failed to produce significant results in states where they have been tried. Over in the House, they're considering Trumpcare, which would erode drug treatment coverage. We should be working to address this tragedy, not spending time on wasteful and damaging measures like these. I urge a no vote."