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Last Updated:3/31/00
Speech by Rep. George Miller (D-California), March 29, 2000
Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

(Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Chairman, I rise in very strong support of the Pelosi amendment. I also want to thank her for offering this amendment so we would have an opportunity to discuss the entire drug problem in our country.

I am very disturbed that we have seen fit that we would address this problem by sending $1.7 billion to Colombia along with the helicopters and along with the advisers in a country the size almost of California and believe that we are going to have an impact.

We have been on this interdiction bandwagon now for over 20 years. We have spent $250 billion. We have spent it in Panama. We have spent it spraying paraquat on drugs in Mexico. We had the Florida interdiction program. We had the Andean strategy program. We had the invasion of Panama. We got rid of Noriega, but we did not get rid of the drug dealers or the drug problem. We had the Peruvian shootdown policy, and now we have President Clinton's eradication program which is the largest herbicide spraying program in the world.

What is the result? The heroin and cocaine on the streets of America is purer and in more plentiful supply, and the price continues to drop. What does that tell us? That these programs have not been effective. And the price has continued to drop in spite of the fact that they now have to avoid being shot down, in spite of the fact that they have to buy bigger and faster boats, in spite of the fact that they buy disposable airplanes and disposable boats. The cost keeps dropping.

It says something about the effectiveness of people trying to drive up the cost of doing business. What the drug lords understand is this is simply the cost of doing business. Whether you are corrupting a border guard, whether you are corrupting a Colombian police member, whether you are throwing in with the Colombian police to create a paramilitary to fight the guerillas, or you are throwing in with the guerillas that is just the cost of doing business.

If you really want to stick it to the guerillas, if you really want to stick it to the drug lords, what you do is you dry up their market. You take away the market. You take away the market by treatment and education. We have conquered some of the most serious problems in this country, intractable problems we thought, with education. But on this one, we fall faint, because we do not think we are being strong if we deal with education.

We know that when women come into the women, infants, and children program if they are smoking or they are taking drugs, after they talk to a doctor about their pregnancy and they get the connection between their body and the fetus's body and the birth of a healthy baby, we know that we have a tremendous success in getting women to stop smoking, to stop taking drugs.

What the gentlewoman from California is talking about is treatment on demand. You know how hard it is to get somebody to ask for treatment when they are addicted, those of us who have worked with addicts, those of us who have friends who have become addicts, those of us who have had family members? You know how hard it is to get them to turn around their life? You think you say, `Come on, I want to take you to treatment,' it does not work. You can take them over and over.

But very often, fortunately, thank God, every now and then, somebody says, `I'm ready for treatment.' You know what happens in most cities when you say I am ready for treatment? You do not get treatment, you get a waiting list. You get a waiting list. Now we are telling a very sick person, who is deeply addicted, come back in 6 months, hang in there but come back in 6 months.

Addiction. Do you know what addiction means? We see it played out every day. We used to see it played out in the criminal reporters because addicts died in the streets. But now we can read about it in the sports page. Athletes who have brilliant careers, millions of dollars, lose it because of addiction. We see a brilliant ballplayer like Darryl Strawberry who goes to treatment, works hard at it and for some reason has a moment of weakness that he cannot even explain, and he may have now finished out his baseball career.

We see CEOs of companies who lose their companies because of addiction. They have beautiful families. They have a beautiful career, a beautiful future; they lose it. This is about addiction. This is about a terrible, terrible problem that confronts our entire society. We see people, performers, brilliant people, stage, music, pictures, great careers gone, die, overdose, take their lives. That is addiction.

You are not going to solve that problem of addiction by going down into the Andean jungle and believe that by spending another $1.7 billion, $250 billion, and no results. In fact, all of the evidence is that it is getting worse. It is getting worse. The market is better for them. They have shifted to where they go to do business. They go from one country to another. They shift the mode of transportation.

The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from California (Mr. George Miller) has expired.

(By unanimous consent, Mr. George Miller of California was allowed to proceed for 2 additional minutes.)


[Page: H1531]
Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Chairman, as the gentlewoman from California pointed out, if you really want to effectively deal with this problem, you would go the treatment route. It is not because we say it. It is not because she says it. It is because the Rand Corporation who has spent a lot of our government money studying this to try to help us find a path to treat this says this is where you would go if you really want a bang for your dollar.

It is not about giving up on the drug lords. It is not about prosecuting, but it is about once and for all deciding what is effective and is not. We now have 20 years of experience and $250 billion of effort that tell us this does not work. Yet this is our approach.

We can also scrutinize some of the drug treatment programs because some of them do not work, but we are so addicted to those because they look good when you are standing there with the school children and the police but we are not getting the results so maybe we can score that one. So if we really want to deal with this, we have got to think about whether or not we have got the commitment and the courage to deal with the demand and whether we can stay with it and start to offer people treatment instead of a waiting list, start to offer people hope that treatment will be there should they make that decision.

There are others who will not make that decision. That is almost something that is almost impossible to deal with. But for those who are willing and have the courage to walk in and say I need help, I need treatment, what the gentlewoman from California was saying is we are here to help you and we can start to reduce that. We can start to reduce the market.

We are throwing thousands and tens of thousands of people in jail for minor drug infractions and even when they are in jail we will not give them treatment. Where we have them 24 hours a day, we cannot find to give them treatment.

We talk about triangulation. We are in between the left and the right, both of which are fostering the drug trade in Colombia, between the military and the guerrillas, between the paramilitary and the police. We are going to insert ourselves for $1.7 billion. Do we think we are going to bring home a solution for America? I do not think so.

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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