This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

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Last Updated:4/18/03
Speech by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), April 3, 2003

Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Chairman, I am deeply disappointed that we cannot just all agree that we must adequately fund our homeland security needs. The McGovern-Skelton-DeLauro amendment moves us in the right direction, cutting $61 million in the bill for Colombia and redirecting resources to State and local first responders. I wholeheartedly support this proposal.

Having traveled to Colombia, I know it is important for the United States to support our neighbor. However, I cannot support sending additional millions above the billions we have already sent to that country to be used for military equipment and military purposes in a failed counternarcotics and counter insurgency effort. I cannot support this effort, because despite increased U.S. aid to Colombia, the violence in that country persists.

According to the State Department, the Colombian Government is still implicated in gross human rights abuses. I certainly cannot support sending additional U.S. dollars to Colombia for the wrong reasons, before guaranteeing my constituents that our homeland security needs are met. We are far from being able to make that guarantee.

As of today, every single municipality in my district has informed me that their homeland needs are desperately underfunded. One firefighter in my district told me that he prays every single day when he goes to work that no terrorist attack will occur, because the city he works in, despite all of its best efforts, does not have the necessary resources to respond.

The war in Iraq has exacerbated the problem. Firefighters and police officers from my district have been deployed to the Persian Gulf and their departments do not have the funds to hire replacements. Coast Guard cutters controlling the Great Lakes for suspicious vessels have been redeployed to the Persian Gulf, and our public health infrastructure is not equipped to handle terrorist attacks that have been identified as greater threats to our security than Iraq or the war in Colombia.

How dare we send more money to Colombia, ostensibly for its security, than we are sending to first responders in 49 States in our own Nation? I urge all Members to correct this misguided approach to national security. Support the McGovern-Skelton-DeLauro amend ment.

As of April 18, 2003, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r108:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20030403)

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