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When it comes to the war on drugs, Congress has indulged in a lot of pointless posturing - including that of dragging the military into a fray for which it is not equipped.

But now there's a new wrinkle on the lawmakers' agenda that makes sense.We're referring to the competing bills in the House of Representatives that would revoke the driver licenses of convicted drug users.

Under one bill that the House considered and rejected Thursday, states would have to impose suspensions of at least six months for a first conviction and at least one year for repeat convictions within a five-year period. Five percent of a state's federal highway money would be withheld the first year if there was no compliance, and 10 percent would be held back for every subsequent year of non-compliance.

Instead, the House passed an alternative measure that contains the same six-month and one-year provisions. But instead of penalties, states would receive Transportation Department grants for imposing the driver license penalties.

Whether the Senate prefers the carrot or the stick when it considers the measure is not nearly as important as the basic principle involved. The principle is simply that, since drunken drivers can lose their licenses, the same penalty should apply to motorists who abuse other kinds of dangerous drugs besides alcohol.

The only surprising thing about the current effort to revoke the driver licenses of convicted drug users is that such provisions were not put on the federal law books long ago. Congress should now make up for lost time.