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Friday, March 22, 2013 - 12:10pm
When you apply for a job, an employer may require you to pass a drug test before you're hired for the position.
A controversial proposal in Washington wants to extend this rule to the unemployed as well, and require the jobless to pass a drug test before they can receive unemployment benefits.
Some local El Pasoans we spoke to say it's only fair.
"There's a lot of families that when they apply they don't receive the benefits for some reason or not, but if somebody is addicted to some kind of drug and they get the benefit and that money goes to drugs, well, there's a problem there," said Ivan Alvarez.
"It's a great idea because we don't want people for El Paso, to be using this money for drugs," said Ernesto Madrid.
U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce says that's the point of his new bill. It's called "The Accountability in Unemployment Act" and Pearce presented the proposal in the House of Representatives this week. He argues the bill will make sure unemployment beneficiaries are using the benefits for the right reasons.
"The federal government has a moral obligation to help those with drug dependencies get clean instead of turning a blind eye to a potential problem. Hard-working middle class Americans are struggling to make ends meet, and should not have to pay the way for those who have drug addictions," said Pearce.
If the bill passes, anyone who applies for unemployment benefits would have to be tested for drugs within 3 months of receiving their first check. If you fail the test, you guessed it, you don't get the benefits. If you test negative though, the government will reimburse you for the cost of the test.
"It's a good idea but I don't think it'll work,"said Hugo Quezada.
Hugo says he doesn't think there are that many unemployed people with a drug problem.
Opponents to the bill say it's a bad proposal all together because it picks on the poor.