Trump finalizing opioid testing rule for transportation workers

Trump finalizing opioid testing rule for transportation workers
© Getty Images

The Trump administration is finalizing a proposal to require opioid testing for certain transportation workers.

The rule would affect railroad engineers, pilots, air traffic controllers, truck drivers and other employees who are subject to federal drug and alcohol testing regulations.

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoDecline in US travel spurs business push for visitors Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals Trump’s first year in office was the year of the woman MORE said in a letter to Rep. Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioHouse Dems introduce train safety bill after deadly Amtrak crash WATCH: Private drones cause increasing concern on Capitol Hill Cutting Dems out on infrastructure could cost key votes MORE (D-Ore.) this week that the proposed rule is “undergoing final review.” The agency has also ordered a study on substance abuse in the transportation sector, she added.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Safety is the Department of Transportation’s top priority, and we are committed to working with Congress and other federal departments to combat opioid abuse,” Chao wrote.

The letter comes in response to complaints from House Democrats, who raised concerns earlier this week that the administration had stalled the rulemaking process.

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

But the the agency's decades-old drug testing 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 Chao 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, the Department of Health and Human Services updated its mandatory guidelines in January for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs and allowed the Transportation Department to add four prescription opioids to its drug-test panel: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone.

The Transportation Department then issued a notice of proposed rulemaking signaling that it would adopt the Health and Human Services guidelines on opioids. Comments on the proposal were due six months ago.