by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), April 3, 2003
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.
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
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)