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New Bill Would Authorize Drug Tests for Congressmen

Rep.Clay Higgins of Louisiana’s proposal would create randomized drug tests for Congressmen, but opponents criticize the move as a political gimmick.

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By Dane Larsen | @therealdanelars

Republican Congressman Clay Higgins represents the Third District of Louisiana in Washington. He claims to be defending his said morals of “smaller government, less bureaucracy, free markets, [and] a strong national defense”. This past week, Rep. Higgins composed H. Con. 135, better known as the “Exposing Congressional Drug Abuse Act”. If Congress passes it, the bill would establish randomized drug tests for United States legislators.

What Would the Drug Tests Look Like?

Applying to both the House and Senate, the bill describes the drug tests as concurrent to another resolution, which would make the tests mandatory for all members. However, neither bill has outlined punishments for those who test positive. The Committee of Ethics, on the other hand, would have the responsibility to deal with those who refuse to take the periodic tests. Possibly, they would also manage the penalties for those who fail them.

Much like the case of any other government drug tests, members will not receive advanced knowledge of them. They also will not, at least legally, occur on any grounds of “individualized suspicion”.

Political Implications

Rep. Higgins is not gaining vast support from Louisiana citizens. It appears that the idea has harmed his chances at re-election more than it has helped them. With the upcoming potential “blue wave” in the 2018 midterms, Higgins is up for reelection. His opponent, Mimi Methvin, is quickly gaining traction in the race. Methvin and administrators in the Louisiana Democratic Party, including Stephen Handwerk, the executive director, have criticized Higgins for creating this bill. They believe it to be merely a publicity stunt in order to garner some greater attention before the November election.

At this point, it is unclear whether good motive of personal gain back his intentions for drafting the bill. But regardless, it is not evident that it will have an overarching effect on the members of Congress. The finalization of this bill and open voting will occur later this month. The vote count currently is about even between Democrats and Republicans. Generally, it appears to be at least capable of garnering some bipartisan support.

“Elected officials in Washington D.C. should be subject to the same kind of random drug screenings that blue-collar, working-class Americans have to endure. Congress shouldn’t get to live by a different set of rules. This effort is about maintaining accountability and ensuring sober service to We, the People.” -Rep. Higgins


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