Rep. Clay Higgins (R–La.) doesn't just want to force every member of Congress to take regular drug tests—he also believes lawmakers should pay for the tests themselves.
Higgins introduced legislation Thursday that would require all federal lawmakers to be randomly tested "once per term" for "illegal use of controlled substances." Members of the House or Senate who test positive would be reported to the House or Senate Ethics Committee, respectively. Lawmakers must "reimburse" Congress "for the cost of the random drug test," the bill says.
The freshman congressman says the law is necessary to ensure that legislators play by the same "rules" as private citizens. "This effort is about maintaining accountability and ensuring sober service to We, the People," Higgins said in a statement.
But it's difficult to take him seriously. After all, this is the same guy who last July recorded a video of himself inside a former gas chamber at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Higgins was roundly criticized at the time, not just by the usual outrage mob but also by the Auschwitz Memorial's Twitter account. Higgins' offense wasn't the worst thing in the world, but it was widely seen as direspectful and just plain dumb, especially considering that a stone engraving near the entrance to the gas chamber asked visitors to remain silent.
Regarding congressional drug tests, Higgins insists he's serious. "This isn't a stunt," he tells the Monroe News Star. "It's not about shaming or embarrassing or ending members' careers. It's about our body adhering to the same standards almost every other working man and woman is held to on the job."
However, random drug-testing is probably not something "almost" all American workers face.
Federal law does require random testing for some industries where drug use would impact safety. And many companies make potential employees pass a drug test before officially bringing them on. Companies in many states, though, must have a good reason to test their current workers. And even if most workers were subject to random drug tests, forcing members of Congress to undergo the same thing doesn't make invading the privacy of private sector workers less awful. Whether or not employees use drugs in their free time has nothing to do with how they do their job, and that goes for elected officials as well.
We all know that Congress is incompetent. But drug use isn't why members can't get things done, or why the things they do accomplish are so awful.