Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia voiced support for drug testing public housing recipients. Concentrated areas in West Virginia are reportedly experiencing a opioid addiction crisis, and Manchin says that it was the children of drug users who asked him to do more drug testing.
Manchin addressed the West Virginia Council of Churches on Oct. 19, discussing his plans to combat the drug epidemic ravaging West Virginia communities, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports. According to the senator, the children of drug addicts have urged him to stop providing government aid to their parents if they fail random drug testing.
“We take you out of a drug-infested home, what do we do to save you?” Manchin recalls telling children who want their parents drug tested, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “They said, ‘You put me in foster care. Foster care is the only thing that can save me. My mom is still a drug addict from Beckley [West Virginia].’”
Manchin visited Oceana Middle School in rural Oceana, West Vifginia, on Oct. 16 to discuss drugs and welfare with young students, WVVA reports. That senator said the children he spoke with are resilient and want drastic change.
"If my colleagues could only hear how committed these kids are to wanting change in their life,” Manchin says. “And they're asking for reasonable things. They're saying if the government is trying to help me, stop assisting people who are not.”
“Generally any type of drug test without probable cause and a warrant is unconstitutional,” American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Jamie Lynn Crofts told the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Manchin has also taken aim at the FDA and pharmaceutical companies, which he blames for flooding painkillers into his community. The senator believes drug use needs to be treated instead of punished.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Charleston, West Virginia on Oct. 21 to discuss how to combat the drug epidemic with community leaders, WV Public Broadcasting reports.
“I really thank him for coming,” Manchin told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “He’s coming to the state where he’s the least popular.”