In a questionable attempt to address the wastage of government funding, Congressional Republicans voted to overturn an Obama-era regulation that restricted the number of unemployment insurance beneficiaries to undergo drug testing. Congressional Republicans demanded that states be given the authority to execute drug tests in industries beyond those which the Labor Department specified in the 2012 law. On Sunday, House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted a grinning photo of himself signing the bill while sitting next to Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, author of the resolution and one of the most vocal opponents of the Obama-era regulation.
Critics have voiced their concern by saying the repeal of the bill would create more problems than offer solutions. According to ThinkProgress, 12 states in America have so far executed drug tests for welfare beneficiaries. And the results have not been reassuring. After spending a whopping $2 million to carry out these drug tests, no conclusive results have been shared with the public. In fact, ThinkProgress reports, states like Michigan and Arizona found no drug users at all. Ryan's controversial photo comes after February when the House of Representatives passed the House Joint Resolution 42.
Ryan's expressions of glee and excitement have been criticized for demonstrating obliviousness to the plight of unemployed Americans who, under this resolution, are likely to suffer more, contrary to what proponents of the move insist.
Another one heads to President Trump’s desk. This legislation allows states to have drug testing to receive federal unemployment benefits. pic.twitter.com/cFnvdeQqX1— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) March 19, 2017
Supporters of overturning the Obama-era regulation — like Gov. Scott Walker from Wisconsin, Phil Bryant from Mississippi and Gov. Greg Abbott from Texas, Politico reports — say the repeal can assist Americans suffering drug abuse to get the help they need so as to gain re-entry in the workforce as efficient workers.
Critics, however, claim that the repeal only seeks to humiliate those suffering drug abuse and seeking employment. One devastating consequence of the legislation would expose virtually anyone looking for unemployment aid to the arbitrary and financially-counterproductive judgment of drug tests.
This isn't the first time a politician has displayed unabashed glee while demanding for a policy that could destroy the lives of many low-income Americans. In 2015, Walker tried to pass food stamp drug testing off as a "progressive thing" in a statement to the Huffington Post.
Ryan's photo is particularly tasteless given the fact that drug testing people in search of welfare does several things: It fails to address substance abuse, it wastes the very same money Republicans are perennially moaning about, and it could leave marginalized Americans utterly exposed to lack of financial help and, naturally, a secure way to live in society.
It's a vicious cycle, and Ryan's smile can only be construed as cruel in the light of such conditions.