by Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Indiana), March 29, 2000
Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 1/2 minutes to the gentleman
from Indiana (Mr. Buyer), chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel
of the Committee on Armed Services.
Mr. BUYER. Mr. Chairman, let
me also thank the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Young) for his hard work
on this bill.
I could not help but think,
as I was listening to the comments of the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr.
Obey), who brought up a chart up here saying that the Republicans are
busting the budget, that a few years ago he was standing here on the floor
saying we were trying to starve children and put our grandmothers out
on the streets. So when Republicans step forward and we fund particular
programs, I am finding out that some of my colleagues enjoy the role of
just playing the critic rather than being constructive and involving themselves
in programs that help not only our people but our country be good neighbors
in the world.
I rise in strong support of
this bill. A critical element of this bill is called `Plan Colombia,'
which is the funding of a concerted effort aimed at reducing the supply
of narcotics to the United States from this region in South America.
Illicit drugs pose a clear
and present threat to the well-being of American society as well as our
entire hemisphere. In 1999, drugs killed 52,000 Americans, approximately,
and caused more than $10 billion in damage to our country. The number
of drug arrests and percentage of teens using drugs has steadily risen
since President Clinton took office in 1993. The streets of America are
literally awash in drugs, and this supplemental sends an unambiguous signal
that we are finally getting serious about addressing this issue.
Unlike the Bosnia and Kosovo
debates we have had on in floor, the United States has a vital national
interest that is threatened by the influx of drugs across our borders.
These drugs find their way on to every street corner of America. Over
80 percent of the cocaine and heroin that makes its way to the United
States comes from this region in South America.
In December of 1999, I traveled
to Colombia and Venezuela. I went into the jungles and Tres Esquinas where
they were actually training the police battalions and, in my opinion,
the democratically-elected government of Colombia is serious today about
fighting the war on drugs.
Now, I will acknowledge the
comments of the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Obey) about the individuals
who are drafted, young men not participating in the war, in armed combat.
We recognize that. But what
we are training up is this narcotics police battalion. They are very serious
in their efforts.
The core plan of Colombia,
in training these battalions, is very serious. The transportation of the
them for the helicopters is necessary. I believe that Congress needs to
step up to the plate. The President has acknowledged the commitment of
the president of Colombia. We need the comprehensive strategy to fight
this war, and this is the initial first step.
As of March 30, 2000, this
document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:H29MR0-173: