Dems press Trump to require opioid testing for transportation workers

Dems press Trump to require opioid testing for transportation workers
© Getty Images

Democrats are pressing the Trump administration to move ahead with a stalled rule that would require opioid testing for certain transportation workers.

Currently, the Department of Transportation (DOT) only administers a five-panel drug test for safety-sensitive transportation workers, which includes marijuana, cocaine and PCP.

Railroad engineers, pilots, air traffic controllers and commercial bus and truck drivers are among those who are subject to federal drug and alcohol testing regulations.

ADVERTISEMENT

But the DOT’s decades-old drug-testing panel does not include prescription painkillers and opioid misuse, which has skyrocketed in the country in recent years.

“We are in the midst of a prescription opioid crisis in America,” Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee wrote in a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoElaine Chao: Women can't let harassment hold them back House Republican backs bill to overhaul DC Metro To address America's crumbling infrastructure, follow Britain's lead MORE on Tuesday. “In 2016 alone, it is estimated that 11.8 million Americans engaged in opioid misuse.”

“Transportation workers are not immune to this crisis,” the lawmakers said.

Two maintenance workers who were struck and killed by an Amtrak train last year while working on the track tested positive for cocaine and oxycodone.

To combat the growing opioid crisis, Health and Human Services (HHS) updated its mandatory guidelines in January for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs, and allowed DOT to add four prescription opioids to its drug-test panel: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone.

The DOT then issued a notice of proposed rulemaking signaling that it would adopt the HHS guidelines on opioids, with comments due six months ago. But the rulemaking has since languished.

“We strongly urge you to take action now to finalize this rulemaking as a first step toward addressing the opioid crisis," the lawmakers wrote.