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Last Updated:8/6/03
Speech by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), July 23, 2003

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the leadership of the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) and the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Skelton) in bringing this amendment before us this evening. I also respect the commitment of the Speaker of this House to Colombia. Recently he talked of this initiative as saving the lives of American children. But, frankly, I get different information.

I identify with what the gentleman from North Carolina talked about a little while ago, where there are 4.7 million drug abusers in this country, where cocaine production is steady in the region. It may be shifted around a little bit, but in terms of the region itself the cocaine production has been steady for years. And, in fact, cocaine access in the year 2002, the most recent I have available, those statistics suggest that as far as our young people are concerned, cocaine access and use is up.

I am concerned that the program in Colombia is not the most humane program, that not enough money is being invested in alternative development, manual eradication on the ground with aid to farmers. I am concerned that this package, over time, has not been balanced; that when you take all of the money into account, you are looking at approximately 80 percent that is going to be in police and military aid.

My choice, if we were dealing with this in an ideal world, would in fact be to transfer the money, as proposed under the amendment. That would result in tens of thousands of people being saved from infectious diseases. Not that we abandon Colombia, but that we are more focused in terms of what we do invest; investing in sadly underfunded programs for domestic treatment of drugs, increasing funding for the alternative development to help these small farmers switch crops, insisting, as my friend from Massachusetts has talked about, on the respect for human rights and the rule of law, and providing greater political and financial support for civilian democratic institutions.

But most of all, Mr. Chairman, if we are going to spend this money, for heaven sakes spend less of it on K Street. Do not spend so much on consultants, on contractors. I suspect that we can document that far more of this money ultimately is being spent in this country than is being spent on the ground in Colombia.

[Time: 21:00]
I think this amendment is a good first step. I welcome this debate this evening on the floor of the House, and I hope it takes us in a more productive direction.

As of August 6, 2003, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r108:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20030723)

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