1:53 PM EST
Buck McKeon, R-CA 25th

Mr. McKEON. Mr. Chairman, I really want to thank Congressman Boucher for his effort to address this problem of drug use among miners. I think it's very, very important. I would even go so far as to say if this bill doesn't show much progress, if you brought this up as a separate bill, I'd be happy to work with you on it.

This amendment takes an important first step by acknowledging the problem and establishing opportunities for treatment. This amendment is a positive first step, but it does not go far enough.

To complement the Boucher amendment, Republicans are proposing a strong framework for mandatory drug testing. We want to ensure that miners are tested and those who are under the influence are prevented from entering the mines and putting their own lives and the lives of their coworkers at risk.

Drug abuse among miners is a serious problem, and according to recent media accounts, it is also a widespread problem. Already States are taking the lead on stringent testing initiatives to protect miners from the hazards that come from combining substance abuse and the dangerous work environment. The Federal Government needs to catch up on what is being done in the States.

I urge my colleagues to support the Republican proposal to implement drug testing. At this time I also urge passage of the Boucher amendment as an acknowledgment of the problem and an important first step toward resolving it.