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Public Statements

Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I submit for your consideration opposition to drug testing and screening of unemployment insurance recipients and applicants as proposed in H.R. 3630 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011. Never before has there been a greater need to ease the pain of millions of Americans attempting to make ends meet post economic/financial crisis and anemic jobs market. Daily, we are reminded of the rippling effects of these man-made disasters. Indeed, today's headline ``America's Youngest Outcasts'' shines the light on 1.6 million (one and 45 children) children homeless in 2010, a 38% spike from 2007. Yesterday's headline connected to dots and charted a direct correlation between the percentage of children living in poverty and unemployment rate. What will tomorrow's headline read with proposed unemployment insurance drug testing and screening?

Mandatory drug testing falls into the category of ill-conceived barriers. Implementing laws requiring mandatory ``suspicionless'' drug testing and screening for families is punitive and is not premised on any reasonable rationale. Such random testing is not only reckless and based on insidious stereotypes but mostly a costly and an inefficient way of identifying recipients in need of drug and substance abuse treatment. Additionally, imposing further sanctions on unemployment insurance recipients and applicants who've depleted savings or assets and at risk or in foreclosure will have harsh effects on children.

Our children's wellbeing is a measurement of our Nation's wellbeing. Lest anyone get carried away with the notion that unemployment insurance is a means of funding the purchase and usage of drugs, the fact is unemployment insurance promotes opportunity for the next generation.

The unrelenting partisan campaign to impose drug testing and screening requirements on the unemployed will be devastating. Beyond the toll on individuals, creating barriers to much needed unemployment insurance will have huge fiscal and social consequences. Congress can ill-afford to take a passive approach to helping millions of Americans waiting along the sidelines uncertain about employment opportunities. In these trying times we must hold fast to the words of James Madison, The Father of the Constitution, charging us to ``promote the general Welfare. ..... to ourselves and posterity.'' To do so otherwise is not only a disservice to our Constitution, but also a disservice to all Americans.


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