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Public Statements

Drug Testing for Unemployment: Texas State Senator Tommy Williams Testifies before U.S. House Ways and Means Panel

Press Release

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Texas State Senator Tommy Williams, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, will testify today at a House Ways & Means Human Resources Subcommittee hearing in support of allowing states to require drug screening as a condition for receiving unemployment benefits.

U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas, who helped successfully remove a 40-year federal ban on drug screening and testing unemployment recipients and allow for the first ever pro-work program waivers during last year's negotiations on extending federal unemployment benefits, will join Williams at the hearing. Senator Williams has moved bipartisan legislation through the State Senate in Austin, which would require drug screening for some individuals receiving unemployment benefits -- a move that Brady strongly supports.

"Taxpayers shouldn't subsidize drug use. If you're on drugs, you're not job ready," said Brady, who leads the Health Subcommittee in Congress. "I applaud the leadership of Senator Williams, and we will continue to push the White House to follow the law and issue regulations on drug testing so that states like Texas can implement the law."

Brady is also a strong advocate of the waiver policy and encouraged Texas state officials to apply for one of ten federal waivers under the pilot program. Subsequently, their initial application was denied by the Department of Labor (DOL), citing a lack of guidelines at the time. Today's appearance by Brady at the hearing will be his second. Last year, after DOL finally issued application guidelines, he appeared to question DOL's Assistant Secretary Jane Oates about the lengthy requirements included in the guidelines, which have since completely stifled all interest in the waiver policy. When questioned last year about what would happen if no state applied for a waiver, DOL's responded by saying that "after a few months" they would "go back to the drawing board" if the program did not move forward. Brady claims the agency continues to needlessly stall.

"Texas has already been recognized by the White House for their innovative ways to get Texans back to work. But again, the White House needs to apply the law and allow states like Texas to continue that innovation when it comes to getting the unemployed back to work making good wages rather than collecting benefit checks."


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