Payroll Tax Deal Would Allow Drug Testing, Reduce Unemployment Benefits To 73 Weeks [UPDATE]
The maximum duration of unemployment insurance would gradually fall from 99 weeks to 73 weeks over the course of the year under the payroll tax deal sought by congressional negotiators, according to an outline of the proposal. And the deal would allow states to drug test those applying for unemployment benefits, according to Democratic and Republican congressional sources.
With no deal at all, the longest time people could claim benefits would abruptly drop to 26 weeks at the end of February when federal unemployment programs are set to expire. One million jobless who have been out of work six months or longer would miss out on benefits in March, according to worker advocacy group the National Employment Law Project.
A GOP aide said the deal would overturn a federal law that prevents states from screening and then drug testing people who apply for unemployment insurance. States would be permitted to screen claimants who lost their jobs because they failed or refused a drug test and people seeking new jobs that generally require drug tests. According to a 2006 survey cited by Republicans, 84 percent of employers required new hires to pass a drug test.