Before Congress gets too heavy- handed patting itself on the back for its "sweeping" anti-drug legislation, solons should be reprimanded for what they failed to put in the bill.
The measure authorizes the death penalty for drug traffickers who kill, funnels more money to treatment programs, and allows heavy fines and loss of federal benefits for even small users. But the measure should have gone further.A key provision that would have required random drug and alcohol testing of train crews, bus drivers, airline pilots and truckers failed to make it into the final bill.
It is understandable that victims of tragedies such as the January 1987 train accident at Chase, Md., must feel outrage over solons omitting the drug and alcohol testing.
In that accident, in which 16 people were killed and 175 injured, an engineer later admitted that he had been smoking marijuana before his locomotive ran stop signals and collided with another train.
In the wake of criticism over the legislation's shortcomings, lawmakers and their staffs are scurrying to avoid any blame in the matter. The Senate blames the House and the House blames the Senate.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation is issuing its own regulations for random drug testing in major transportation industries.
This is a welcome step, but as testing proponents point out, it would be much better to have the required testing come in new legislation to ensure that rules are not softened by future administrations.
What is done is done. The job now is to ensure that future travelers are not placed in such jeopardy as at Chase, Md. Rectifying the matter may be up to the 101st Congress.
The U.S. Supreme Court should rule by next summer - before the current term of Congress ends - in two cases challenging the constitutionality of drug testing.
Should the court find favorably for drug testing, Congress should waste no time in completing the arsenal of anti-drug weapons.