House votes to overturn unemployment drug testing regulation

(Photo: Kevin Dermody)

The House has voted 236-189 to overturn a Labor Department rule establishing when states could require drug testing for certain laid-off workers seeking unemployment insurance.

Mississippi, Wisconsin and Texas are among the states that have passed laws seeking to expand drug testing in their unemployment insurance programs.

But they needed the Labor Department’s guidance on which applicants, based on their occupation, could be tested. Examples for which testing would be allowed under the regulation include flight crews and jobs requiring a firearm.

But critics seeking the regulation’s repeal said the department crafted it so narrowly that it undermined congressional intent to give states more leeway.

Democratic lawmakers are opposing the GOP-led effort. They say expanding drug testing beyond the categories in the Obama administration’s rule is designed to embarrass laid-off workers and deter them from seeking benefits.

Alabama Congressman Bradley Byrne (R) said on his Facebook page that, “drug testing those who receive government assistance makes sense and is the responsible thing to do. The federal government certainly shouldn’t be blocking states from doing so.”

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