by Rep. Patsy Mink (D-Hawaii), March 29, 2000
MINK of Hawaii. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in support
of the Pelosi amendment. It is unfortunate that this House is not being
given the opportunity to have a full debate about the very important aspects
of drug treatment and drug prevention. I believe that it was a sorry mistake
when her amendment was not allowed to come before this body.
The only reason this issue
is pending before the House is because we have in this emergency supplemental
a $1.7 billion appropriation for intervention in Colombia. That would
lead us to believe that this Congress, at least, understands that the
drug problem that we face here in America is very serious. But what is
wrong is that we have undertaken to look at this problem as though it
is only a problem from the source and the supply.
We have a serious problem
here with respect to a control of the demand. And we know that all the
literature tells us that if we have adequate treatment programs for people
who even want treatment that they can be helped.
If we have truly the authority
of this House to take full account of emergency supplemental appropriations,
there is no justification for our not including in this emergency, if
we are going to include the supply end of a Colombia appropriation, by
not taking into account also the needed funds that we could use for an
enhanced drug treatment program. It goes together. Supply and demand cannot
We look at the appropriations
that are going to Colombia, $1.7 billion is going to purchase 60-some-odd
helicopters. I serve on the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy
and Human Resources as the ranking member of the Committee on Government
Reform. We had hearings on this matter and we were told that, from the
viewpoint of the production of these helicopters, it is going to take
years before they are in supply actually to Colombia and years more after
that before the people there are going to be trained in order to use this
The engagement of our military
in this kind of activity, which is going to put them in harm's way, get
us messed up into a civil strife within that country, I think is a terrible
But aside from that, this
body is now considering an important issue, and that is drugs, drug abuse
in our country; and we are pretending as though this is only a supply
issue and that, if we spend a billion dollars in Colombia, it will correct
the problem. It will not.
I had the opportunity with
my subcommittee to travel to Colombia about a year ago. It is a country
that has enormous problems of poverty, corruption, lack of control of
its own territory. Forty percent of Colombia is under the control of the
There is no possibility that
our intervention of 60-plus helicopters is going to be able to control
that situation. If we had alternate crops for the farmers there to produce
to get into the market, the biggest problem is infrastructure, how would
they get it from their farms into the market. There is none out in the
The lack of control by Mr.
Pastrana over his country is absolutely sad. I have the greatest admiration
for Mr. Pastrana. I met him and talked with him. I understand his problem.
But there is no way that $1 billion of our taxpayers' money is going to
solve this problem for him.
However, if we are going to
do it, at the very minimum we ought to be looking at this as a balanced
issue. And the issue is, if it is going to take 5 years for those helicopters
to actually be delivered, if we appropriated today $600 million or a billion
dollars for drug treatment tomorrow, those addicts and victims out there
of heroin and cocaine addiction will have treatment. They are waiting
in line now. We are told that only 50 percent of those that actually come
to a center wanting treatment are actually provided any sort of help.
So this country is in real
distress. And so I counter with the argument that, if we are truly dealing
with emergency and if we are going to attack the supply issue as an emergency
subject matter, there is no justification for our not including as part
of that emergency an augmented treatment program to help the people in
this country get rid of this addiction and cut down on the demand. I think
that is the legitimate way to go.
I hope that the Pelosi amendment
will be approved.
As of March 30, 2000, this
document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:H29MR0-173: