You’ve probably heard about freshman Congressman Trey Radel, a Republican from Florida who was recently caught buying cocaine from an undercover cop in DC. But did you know he just voted to drug-test food stamp users? Yup:
But a month before he sought to ride the white pony with the college kids in Northwest, he was neck-deep in the House’s messy debate over whether to continue federal food-stamp benefits to needy families.
That debate culminated in Radel’s vote for a bill that would have authorized states to withhold food stamps from applicants who didn’t submit to a drug urinalysis. Which is pretty interesting, given that a similar plan in Radel’s home state, championed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, ended up as a disastrous waste of taxpayer money and a violation of impoverished welfare applicants’ Fourth Amendment rights.
Apparently Congressman Radel thinks that if you’re a wealthy white politician it’s cool to do all the drugs while making decisions that impact the material conditions of THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, but if you’re just trying to get help getting food for your family so that you can literally survive, you should be shit outta luck. Really?
The treatment of addiction as behavior that should be punished is extremely frustrating and in diametric opposition to clinical evidence about what actually helps addicts recover. Addiction is a public health issue, and it should be treated as such. When it’s not, it’s usually low-income folks of color who suffer the most. In the case of SNAP benefits, or food stamps, women – and particularly women of color – are distinctly affected.
Of course Congressman Radel thinks he, as opposed to SNAP benefit recipients, deserves a second chance: He plans to stay in office, taking a leave of absence until next year.
Veronica Bayetti Flores is an immigrant queer writer, domestic artist, and music video enthusiast.