to House Appropriators from Reps. Ike Skelton (D-Missouri), Jim McGovern
(D-Massachusetts), and Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut),
March 28, 2003
DATE: March 28, 2003
TO: Rep. C. W. Bill
Young, Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations
Rep. David Obey, Ranking Member, House Committee on Appropriations
Rep. Jim Kolbe, Chairman, Foreign Operations Subcommittee
Rep. Nita Lowey, Ranking Member, Foreign Operations Subcommittee
FROM: Rep. Ike Skelton
Rep. Jim McGovern
Rep. Rosa DeLauro
Aid for Colombia in FY 2003 Supplemental Appropriations Request
We are writing respectfully
to urge you to eliminate the funding for Colombia in the FY 2003 supplemental
appropriations request currently under consideration by your Committee.
While the war with Iraq justifies emergency supplemental appropriations,
there is no such emergency with respect to Colombia that would justify
deviating from the regular order of the authorization and appropriation
The costs of the
Iraq conflict are steep and this supplemental request will likely not
be the last to pay for war-related expenses. Moreover, many of us in Congress
share a deep concern about the costs of rebuilding Iraq and providing
for its government transition. At this time, with the nation at war, our
priority must remain with these efforts.
President Bush has
asked Congress to "refrain from attaching items not directly related
to the emergency at hand." In his March 25th request addressed to
the Speaker of the House, the President states that the supplemental appropriations
request is "to support the Department of Defense operations in Iraq
and to strengthen the capabilities of our friends and allies who share
the burden of military and stabilization activities." Finally, the
request will "enhance the safety and well-being of Americans at home
and abroad with investments managed by the Department of State, the Department
of Homeland Security, and other agencies."
We submit that the
military funding for Colombia included in this supplemental does not meet
these criteria. The requests for Colombia are unrelated to the needs of
our troops and our missions in Iraq and Central and South Asia and the
requirements to safeguard our Nation's own homeland security. It would
seem wiser and more appropriate to provide funding for Colombia through
the regular appropriations process.
has just received over $500 million for Fiscal Year 2003 - $400
million through the Andean Counterdrug Initiative and $99 million in foreign
military financing - in H. J. Res. 2, the FY 2003 Omnibus Appropriations
Act, which Congress approved barely six weeks ago, on February 12th. For
Fiscal Year 2004, the President has requested over $700 million for Colombia,
including $313 million in interdiction funding, $110 million in foreign
military financing, $150 million in social aid, and another estimated
$120 million in the defense appropriations bill. It is our understanding
that those bills will begin to move through the subcommittee appropriations
process shortly after Congress returns from the April recess.
includes the following funding for Colombia:
- $34 million for
"Drug Interdiction and Counter-Drug Activities" under the
Department of Defense/Operations and Maintenance to "fund increased
operational tempo in Colombia's unified campaign against narcotics trafficking
and terrorist activities."
- $34 million under
"Department of State/Other" for the Andean Counterdrug Initiative
"to support extension of police authority to areas of the country
that currently have little or no law enforcement presence, enhanced
presidential security, bomb squad equipment, and for the unified campaign
against narcotics and terrorism." (It is unclear whether these
are indeed two separate requests for $34 million or an inadvertent duplication.)
- An unspecified
amount under "International Assistance Programs/International Security
Assistance" as foreign military financing. A total of $2.059 billion
would be provided by 19 countries, including Colombia. While specifics
are provided for Israel, Jordan, Pakistan and Afghanistan for these
funds, no specifics are provided regarding the other 15 countries, including
Colombia. However, in recent briefings, State Department officials have
stated that $36 - $37 million of these funds is targeted for Colombia.
- If these figures
are correct, the total supplemental military aid for Colombia in this
request could be as high as $104 - $105 million.
In addition, some
categories in the supplemental contain generic wording of support for
"the global war on terrorism" that could include funding for
Colombia and other countries not related to operations in Iraq, South
or Central Asia, the Middle East, or against al-Qaeda. These include,
for example, the Defense Emergency Response Fund, where $50 million is
made available "to support the military operations or activities
of foreign nations in furtherance of the global war on terrorism."
Under "Department of Defense/General Provisions," there is another
$150 million "to support indigenous forces assisting United States
military operations or activities relating to the global war on terrorism"
that could also permit payments to forces not related to the war on Iraq.
The Committee might want to look at modifying and providing greater precision
in the language of these provisions so that the use of these funds is
narrower and more appropriate to the Persian Gulf/Middle East/South Asia
theater of operations.
We thank you for
your serious consideration of these matters. Supporting our troops and
providing a post-Saddam Iraq the best chance of success are critical priorities.
We hope that the supplemental will exclude these extraneous requests and
focus on the specific needs of our troops and missions in the Persian
Gulf and on our urgent Homeland Security requirements.