The Donald Trump administration hopes to unveil a new Labor Department regulation in June requiring drug testing for unemployment benefits.
Republicans used the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal an Obama-era regulation that limited states’ ability to limit drug testing for people who apply for unemployment benefits.
After President Trump signed the CRA repealing the Obama-era regulation, House Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said:
President Trump just signed into law my bill that abolishes an Obama-era rule. After five years of battling with the Obama Department of Labor, states like Texas will now be allowed to drug test folks on unemployment to ensure they are job-ready from day one. This is a win for families, workers, job creators, and local economies.
Chairman Brady proposed the bill with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who sponsored the Senate version of the CRA.
Republicans argued that the 2016 unemployment rule only allowed unemployed Americans to submit to drug testing if they were in occupations that typically required testing, which includes airline pilots, flight crews, air traffic controllers, commercial and public transit drivers, as well as any job that requires Americans to regularly carry a firearm.
The Labor Department signaled that it planned to issue a more expansive rule redefining which jobs will have to submit to regular drug testing for unemployment claims.
In the Trump administration’s roadmap for new regulations, the Labor Department stated that “states no longer have authority to drug test unemployment compensation applicants for whom suitable work is only available in occupations that regularly conduct drug testing for unlawful use of controlled substances.”
The Labor Department said that it will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking that “will identify the occupations that regularly conduct drug testing.”
Strategic Services on Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation President Doug Holmes said if they wish to be paid through state unemployment benefits, they need to make themselves able and available to work, and that includes passing a drug test.
Holmes suggested, “This is an insurance program, it’s not public assistance.”
Holmes then continued, arguing that the previous Labor Department rule was too restrictive.
An individual has to be available and able to work. If they’re not available and able to work, week by week by week, then they don’t meet the requirements to be paid unemployment compensation benefits. If an individual has a significant problem that renders him or her unavailable to work, the appropriate response is to refer them to a place to get help. They should not be paid unemployment benefits.
The regulatory agenda said that the Labor Department plans to release its proposed rule in June.
Labor Department spokesman Eric Holland revealed that the agency is “diligently working on a new proposal regarding unemployment compensation drug testing that will be substantially different from the prior rule.”
“When it is ready, we will publish it in the Federal Register for review and comment by the public,” Holland added.