Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has proposed an amendment
to the jobs bill today that would require Americans seeking unemployment benefits and welfare to pass a drug test.
He said the current social safety net only feeds their addiction to both illegal substances and help from the federal government.
"Too many Americans are locked into a life of a dangerous dependency not only on drugs, but the federal assistance that serves to enable their addiction," the senator said in a statement. "Drugs are a scourge on our society -- hurting children, families and communities alike."
The amendment comes as an attempt to pass the $140 billion jobs bill failed in the Senate. The bill would extend unemployment benefits for millions of Americans, but its price tag has elicited objections from both Republicans and Democrats.
Hatch said his amendment would help save taxpayer money and reduce the national deficit.
"This amendment is a way to help people get off of drugs to become productive and healthy members of society, while ensuring that valuable taxpayer dollars aren't wasted," the senator said today.
Already, some commentators are raising flags. Annie Lowrey at The Washington Independent notes
that the liberal-leaning Drug Policy Alliance thinks such a law may be unconstitutional.
"A 2003 ruling by a federal appeals court that covers the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee ruled that states cannot drug test welfare recipients because it's unconstitutional," the organization said in a press release today. The group also argued that the amendment threatens to "undermine anti-poverty efforts
" across the country.