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Last Updated:3/31/00
Speech by Rep. David Obey (D-Wisconsin), March 29, 2000
Mr. MOAKLEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Obey), the ranking member of the Committee on Appropriations.

Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the time.

Mr. Speaker, let me say I am going to vote against this rule for a number of reasons. First of all, if we look at spending issues, we will see that the bill as reported is $4 billion above the amount requested by the President. Before it is finished, this bill will have added to it an additional $4 billion not requested by the President.

It is clear that only 1 week after this House passed a budget resolution promising to live within spending ceilings that the $4 billion that will be added under the rule today is simply an attempt to get around those budget ceilings so that there will be $4 billion more room in the defense appropriation for Members' projects. A very interesting exercise in fiscal discipline, it lasted one week.

Secondly, we are now being asked to enter into a huge new long-term commitment to underwrite a war in Colombia. We have been told it will last at least 5 years, and I suspect it will last probably 10.

For 35 years, the date of August 7, 1964, has lived in infamy in history because that was the day that Congress roared through the Gulf at Tonkin resolution on this very same floor with 40 minutes of debate.

Today, we are going to be given only 20 minutes to discuss the advisability of entering into this long 5- to 10-year commitment to underwrite this war in Colombia. That means that those of us who think this is not a good idea will have exactly 10 minutes to make our case. That is amazing.

Thirdly, despite the fact that the Rand Corporation has done a study financed in part by the U.S. Army which says that a dollar spent on reducing demand for drugs here at home is 23 times more effective than a dollar spent in reducing drug use through interdiction and supply reduction abroad, this rule denies us the opportunity to even vote on the Pelosi amendment, which would allow us to provide more funding to deal with the drug problem here at home by expanding drug treatment programs. That is, in my view, ill-advised.

There is also no provision allowed under which we could even put on the floor the President's request for debt relief for countries such as Bolivia and Honduras.

Lastly, I would say that there were over a dozen Democrats who asked to be allowed to offer amendments to this proposition. Only two were given the opportunity to offer those amendments. We have 10 amendments that are going to be offered by majority party Members and two others that are bipartisan, with lead sponsors being the majority party.

In other words, the majority party first crafted the initial bill to its liking. Now they insist on being able to offer over 80 percent of the amendments that are going to be offered on the floor on this day. And then they wonder why there is not more support on this side of the aisle. I think those numbers speak for themselves.

This bill is a mistake. I will vote against the rule. I will vote against the bill. If we are going to get involved in a long-term war commitment in this hemisphere, we owe it to our constituents to spend more than 10 minutes discussing the consequences.

As of March 30, 2000, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:H29MR0-91:

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