WASHINGTON — The Senate, despite fierce opposition from liberals, voted Thursday to impose mandatory, random drug testing on Veterans Administration doctors and nurses and to require the VA to offer AIDS tests to its patients.
In back-to-back actions, the Senate first refused by voice vote to exempt the VA from the government-wide drug testing order after a 67-29 test vote showed that a majority backed the program.
Then the Senate, again by voice vote, adopted legislation requiring the VA to offer the AIDS test to all of its 280,000 hospitalized patients who are under 40 years old. An attempt to kill the proposal was defeated 68 to 24.
The drug testing program, backed by the Administration and VA officials, would cover doctors, nurses, health practitioners and other employees of the agency.
The votes came during Senate consideration of an omnibus bill providing a variety of new and increased benefits for veterans. The Senate was expected to complete action on the bill today.