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Speech by Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Florida), March 29, 2000
[Page: H1528]
Mr. McCOLLUM. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi). I know it is a protest amendment with regard to what she wanted to offer. But it does beg the question a little bit that has not been discussed a lot out here today, and that is where we are in this so-called `war on drugs' in terms of trying to limit the damage that is there.

I am for drug treatment. I do not know anybody here who is not. But in the war, the treating the wounded does not win the war. It is something my colleagues want to do and I want to do.

I also know that many of the drug treatment programs that I have supported over the years have not been shown to be as effective as we would like, and there are a lot of people who are on drugs who do not come forward and seek treatment. So it is a very difficult area, one we need to take a lot of time and energy with and I hope this Congress will try to sort out those programs that work from those that do not and then provide the right amount of funding for them.

On the other hand, what we are dealing with in this bill is really critical to what is going on in the streets. And what I find to be very difficult for a lot of Americans today to understand because we do not hear as much about it, our other leadership nationally has not talked much about it lately, is the fact that even though we may show statistics showing drug use in the country generally trending down, teen drug use is up, particularly heroin and cocaine and even marijuana.

From 1992 to 1998, the last full statistics that I have, as chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime, we show use among 12- to 17-year-olds up 120 percent in that period of time, and that is for all drugs, 27 percent in 1998 alone.

But I think the most startling statistic of all is that with heroin. I want to bring that up particularly because heroin is produced in Colombia. In fact, in the eastern half of the United States, almost the entire heroin supply coming into this country is from Colombia; and a lot of the resources we have and the efforts being made in this legislation today are to try to stop that from happening, from Colombia producing it and from it coming our way.

There has been among 12- to 17-year-olds, and I want my colleagues to hear this number now, from 1992 to 1998, an increase in drug use, heroin use, specific heroin use, among 12- to 17-year-olds of 875 percent, an absolutely astounding number.

It strikes me that when we are talking about trying to do what we want to do to solve the problem of drug use in this country, we do not do it by simple treatment; and we have to go to the source country. The most efficient use of our dollars in any kind of effort on the supply side which gets at winning a war is in the country where it is being produced.

We have been extraordinarily effective with our work with Bolivia. They now have a program under way down there that many of us believe will virtually stop the growth of coca plants, which has been a very big crop-producing country for us down there. They have gone to alternative crops. We have got a lot of cooperation with them. It has been a very positive program.

In Peru, we had a couple years where we did really well there. We are not doing as well now. But that was when we had an aggressive program, cooperating with the president of that country, to shoot down drug planes flying raw coca to Colombia from Peru. There has now not been as much support from the United States available, and that program has not done as well.

In Colombia, where the problem is the greatest, is where the FARC and the revolutionaries are right now controlling about a third of the country, protecting the drug lords, and getting money in return for that to allow their operations to continue.

This legislation we have before us today that the gentlewoman wants to cut money from is designed to allow us to stop this activity from going on so that we can, the Colombians in particular themselves, can go in and destroy the coca crops, destroy the drug lords' operations, and be able to destroy the heroin produce and poppy plants that are growing up in the mountains with the helicopters and the other equipment in this legislation.

If we do not do that, we are going to continue to see an enormously greater supply of heroin, in particular, and cocaine coming out of Colombia to this country, particularly the eastern half. We are going to have more teenagers getting onto these drugs than we do today, and we are going to see the numbers go up.

We cannot win the war by treatment alone, and we cannot win by education alone. It is not one thing alone. But our police officers, our schools, our professionals in the drug counseling area are swamped in many of our cities and communities today with the shear quantity that is coming in and very little discussion about it.

We have not gained the kind of support in this Congress or from this administration over the last couple of years that this effort deserves or requires.

Today we have a chance to do something about that with regard to Colombia. We need to do that. We need to help them in their efforts to overcome the revolutionaries that are supporting the drug lords and being supported by them, and the only way to do that is to pass this bill today.

This amendment should be defeated because it cuts a vital amount of money out of that portion of this bill which goes toward that effort. I urge its defeat.

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