MT. PLEASANT, Iowa – Texas Gov. Rick Perry said on Wednesday he wouldn’t be opposed to welfare recipients also being drug-tested, joining fellow candidate Newt Gingrich in suggesting that federal aid should be tied to substance use.
“I don't have a problem with--before you get any dollars from the federal government--that you're drug-tested,” Perry said in response to a man who suggested the idea at a meet-and-greet in Mt. Pleasant that drew more than 80 people.
Perry pointed out that as a pilot in the Air Force, he himself had been tested. “I don’t have a problem in the world with that,” he said.
Gingrich made waves on the same subject when he told Yahoo News in late November that one of the ways to curb drug use is to make it more expensive. “It could be through testing before you get any kind of federal aid--unemployment compensation, food stamps, you name it,” he said.
The idea of requiring drug tests for people receiving federal assistance has been popular within Republican circles for some time and has come to the fore as an issue this year, as three-dozen states saw legislators attempt to tie substance use to benefits. The proposals have been met with controversy by civil liberties groups who say it violates the rights of those seeking assistance from the government.