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June 2005
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No amendment to cut federal drug testing dollars after all

The action alert I gave yesterday has been rendered unnecessary, as the amendment has been withdrawn.
Here’s a report from SSDP’s legislative director Ross Wilson:

Today, we witnessed the frustrating nature of politics in Congress and how good policy proposals can get brushed aside in the name expedience. Nonetheless, we took some important steps forward in drumming up congressional opposition to student drug testing.

While Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) spoke on the floor of the U.S. House about the importance of his planned amendment to cut student drug testing and use that money to fund youth offender reintegration programs, he never offered the amendment. Rep. David Obey (WI), the lead Democrat on Appropriations, had pressured members of his party NOT to offer amendments in the interest of being able to leave to go home for the weekend.

After speaking about the numerous fundamental problems with the appropriations bill in question and offering his own amendment to re-fund public broadcasting, Rep. Obey declared, “No amount of fixing can fix this bill….If members are serious about wanting to get out today, it would be nice if they could recognize the fact that we cannot dispose with 47 amendments in two hours.” The House ultimately did not complete consideration of the bill and will convene again tomorrow to do so.

Nonetheless, this should not diminish the work of Congressman Bobby Scott to address concerns about drug testing and the importance of youth reintegration programs. In his remarks, he pointed out the proven ineffectiveness of student drug testing and the numerous organizations that oppose it. I’m unaware of previous debates about student drug testing on the floor of the U.S. House.

SSDP, DPA, and the other organizations that signed on to our letter urging support of the amendment created a firestorm on Capitol Hill about student drug testing. After delivering our letter to all 435 voting members of the House, Reps. Bobby Scott and Danny Davis (D-IL) circulated their own letter to their colleagues soliciting support for their amendment. Almost immediately thereafter, notorious drug warrior Congressmen Mark Souder (R-IN) and John Peterson (R-PA) responded with their own weak letter opposing the amendment, alleging the efficacy of student drug testing to reduce drug use and the Supreme Court’s “support” for such programs. (Of course, the court’s 2002 decision specifically refused to opine on the public policy wisdom of drug testing.)

Thanks once again to Jenny Janichek from Roosevelt University SSDP for getting Rep. Danny Davis’s support on this. Thanks also to those who e-mailed and called their representatives to ask for their support of the Scott/Davis amendment. We will continue to build on the alliances forged in the process of pushing for this amendment and hope to offer a similar one next year.

Amazing how Souder just keeps popping up like some kind of Energizer bunny extolling the virtues of anything related to prohibition and opposing anything that would actually help people.

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