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Davis Opposes Unconstitutional Drug-testing of Unemployed Workers

Statement of Congressman Danny K. Davis before the House of Representatives

Committee on Rules in Opposition to H.J.Res. 42 that

Would Allow Unconstitutional Drug-testing of Unemployed Workers

(Remarks as Prepared)


Washington, D.C.- On Tuesday, February 7, 2017, Congressmen Danny K. Davis (D-IL) lead Democratic efforts to oppose a House resolution that would promote unconstitutional drug-testing of unemployed workers.  In his testimony before the Committee on Rules, Congressman Davis said:

“Workers collecting unemployment benefits earned their benefits by working hard.  Workers only receive benefits if they are out of work through no fault of their own and are actively searching for new jobs.

There are considerable challenges facing our unemployment system. More than half of the state trust funds, including that in my homes state, are insolvent and could only pay earned benefits for a short time if a recession hits. Only about one in four unemployed workers currently receives UI benefits. Some states have cut benefits, increasing the chances that workers will exhaust benefits before finding jobs. H.J. Res. 42 does not address these challenges.

There also are real problems with drug use in this country, and a severe shortage of treatment options for those who need them. H.J. Res. 42 does not address these problems, either.

Instead, we are considering a policy that slanders unemployed workers by assuming that they are drug users, that ignores all research showing that drug use is NOT higher among unemployed workers than in the general population, and that violates the constitutional protection against illegal search and seizure – a protection that courts have clearly said exists regardless of whether one receives public benefits.

The statutory provision that required this regulation was appropriately limited to a very narrow group of workers, those for whom finding suitable work required a drug test. 

Congress should be helping communities suffering from high unemployment, addressing persistent long-term unemployment, aiding workers in upgrading their skills to get good jobs. Congress should be strengthening our unemployment insurance system to make sure it’s ready to respond in the next recession. We should NOT encourage states to waste resources on an unconstitutional drug testing requirement for struggling unemployed workers who claim benefits they earned.” 

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    repName Danny K. Davis  
    helpWithFedAgencyAddress Chicago District Office
    2813-15 W. Fifth Avenue
    Chicago, Illinois 60612
    district 7th District of Illinois  
    academyUSCitizenDate July 1, 2017  
    academyAgeDate July 1, 2017  
    academyApplicationDueDate October 20, 2017  
    repStateABBR IL  
    repDistrict 7  
    repState Illinois  
    repDistrictText 7th  
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