This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

Home
|
Analyses
|
Aid
|
|
|
News
|
|
|
|
Last Updated:3/31/00
Speech by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California), March 29, 2000
Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for his very important statement on this significant subject, which is as personal as our own families and as important to our country as our national security.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today to thank Members on both sides of the aisle, our distinguished chairman, our distinguished ranking member, for the very, very serious debate that we have had on this subject. It is a subject worthy of serious debate.

Let us stipulate from the start that we all agree that every person in this body wants to fight the scourge of substance abuse in our country. There is no question about that. Let us also agree that we want to help Colombia, President Pastrana. I think we all agree he is a very courageous person and has a very difficult challenge. The people of Colombia have suffered so many years because of drugs and because of the civil war, whatever they are calling it down there, and so we want to help them. But is this the right way to go?

As a Member, along with the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Jackson), of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education of the Committee on Appropriations, we know what the need is in SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. We have fought hard, in a bipartisan way, for more funding for substance abuse for treatment on demand for substance abusers. We have a golden opportunity, a golden opportunity in a supplemental bill to do drastically more.

So to those who say let us do this in the regular process, we have caps in the regular process. We have no offsets in a supplemental emergency bill. So that is why this is a golden opportunity. If we can spend $1.3 out of a package of $1.7 billion to send to Colombia within an emergency bill, we should be able to do at least that in our own country. Our agencies can absorb it. The absorptive capacity is there and the need is there.

The need is this: Five and a half million people in our country are substance abusers. Of that number, 37 percent, or 2 million, have access to treatment. We have a 63 percent treatment gap. So, yes, we are doing something on substance abuse, but we are not doing nearly enough. And it should be our priority to start at home, to begin at home to address the demand side of this. Let us face it. If we eradicated every coca leaf in Colombia, do my colleagues think that that would be the end of the drug problem in our country? No. But we can help Colombia by eliminating the market for that coca leaf in the United States.

So my colleagues, as a the ranking member on the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs, I have seen this `Plan Colombia' close up. We are supposed to put up $1.3 billion, $1.7 billion, in the fuller process over $7 billion. We are told that our plan is heavily military because the rest of the $7.5 billion is going to be humanitarian. We have not seen one penny of that other money.

We have not seen the elites of Colombia stand up to the occasion and meet the needs of the poor people in that country. The disparity in income and the poverty level there is so oppressive, yet the elites are running off to Florida. So let us be fair to our own people. Let us have treatment on demand in this full committee. And in that spirit, Mr. Chairman, I again thank our colleagues for the seriousness of this debate on both sides.

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

Google
Search WWW Search ciponline.org

Asia
|
Colombia
|
|
Financial Flows
|
National Security
|

Center for International Policy
1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Suite 801
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 232-3317 / fax (202) 232-3440
cip@ciponline.org