Senator wants pre-benefits drug testing

June 16, 2010 at 10:32 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 16 (UPI) -- Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, says he wants federal legislation requiring people seeking welfare or unemployment benefits to pass a drug test first.

Hatch intends to attach his proposal to legislation extending the social safety net during a time of economic stress, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. He said Tuesday he will try to get the Senate to attach his amendment to the $140 billion bill extending social programs and tax breaks.

He said his idea could reduce the nation's debt and help battle drug addiction, the Tribune reported.

"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," Hatch said. "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."

An advocate for low-income people in Utah called the proposal "outrageous" and "immoral."

"If people who need all kinds of help can't get certain kinds of help, that is just not right," said Linda Hilton of the Crossroads Urban Center in Salt Lake City.

Hilton said she couldn't fathom the idea of denying help to a person with alcohol dependency and she said she worries it could make an entire family suffer for the addiction of a parent, the Tribune said.

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