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Last Updated:3/31/00
Speech of Rep. David Obey (D-Wisconsin), March 29, 2000
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I do not need any reminders from anyone about what illicit drugs do to people in this country. My wife has been a speech therapist. She has been a social worker. She has dealt with people in Saint Elizabeth's and at Georgetown Hospital. She has seen crack babies close up. Once one has seen that, one does not need any lectures about what stupid use of drugs will do in this society. The issue is how we deal with that problem.

What I think the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi) is simply saying to my colleagues is that we think that they are putting all of their eggs in one basket and that the evidence shows it is the wrong basket.

We have 3 1/2 million people in this country who are in severe need of drug treatment and yet cannot get it because of inadequate programs to provide that treatment. We are currently able to provide only 37 percent of the estimated 5.7 million Americans who need treatment with the treatment that they need.

Yet, if we look at an evaluation done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, and it is cited on page 97 of the committee report, we see `A five-year evaluation of SAMHSA substance abuse treatment services found treatment has significant and lasting benefits. Patients receiving treatment reported 50 percent decrease in drug and alcohol use 1 year after completing treatment, 53 percent decrease in alcohol/drug related medical visits, 43 percent decrease in criminal activity, 56 percent decrease in sexual encounters for money or drugs, 51 percent decrease in sexual encounters with an injection drug user, 43 percent decrease in homelessness, and a 19 percent increase in employment.'

That is what the evidence shows one can get if one puts money in drug treatment. Yet the leadership of this House and the Committee on Rules, which is its agent, denied the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi) the opportunity to offer an amendment to put one dime of additional money into drug treatment and drug prevention.

Then my colleagues have got the gall to come here and ask her why she offers this amendment. I will tell them why she offers this amendment. It is the only way she can get a discussion of the issue on the floor. We tried not to eliminate a dime for Colombia.

All we asked our colleagues to do is to delay $522 million that we thought was going to get us in a war that we did not know how to get out of, and recognize the Rand study, which says that we get 34 more times bang for the buck if we put the money where she wanted to put it as opposed to where the House decided to put it.

So if my colleagues want to know why this amendment is here, it is because it is the only way that the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi) can get an opportunity to ask them again and again why, if they are willing to fight the drug war a thousand miles from here, why are they not willing to fight it in their own backyard by increasing drug treatment. That is where the money ought to go.

As of March 30, 2000, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:H29MR0-173:

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