In 2014, Florida Rep. Henry “Trey” Radel became the first member of Congress to be convicted of drug use, receiving a one-year probation sentence upon the discovery of his cocaine use by an undercover cop and a subsequent plea deal.
It’s no secret that a number of America’s elected officials are no strangers to drug and alcohol use due to the few convictions over the years that hit the public eye as well as second hand reports of excessive alcohol abuse by offices as high as the president’s—even the Founding Fathers were said to have indulged in opioids and marijuana from time to time. ‘Few’ is the key word here, as it’s rare that we ever hear stories in the news about narcotic-related convictions of these officials because they get away with it so often.
This week, Louisiana’s own republican congressman Clay Higgins introduced the Exposing Congressional Drug Abuse Act, which would implement random drug tests for US representatives and senators alike.
A primary criticism of programs such as these when proposed regarding groups such as welfare recipients is the economic cost of such tests. Under this act, Congress would reimburse taxpayers of any costs expended in the process. If an official fails his/her drug test, they are to be reported to the Committee on Ethics, where proper measures will be taken to ensure punishment, not to mention the implied punishment of public chastisement once word gets out of their drug use.
The purpose of this act is clear—to discourage drug use by lawmakers in a nation in which these drugs are almost universally against the law.
The proposal of the act comes on the heels of Higgins having passed a mandatory drug test for the Lafayette City Marshal’s office. Higgins issued the following statement:
“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.”