release by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois), March 30, 2000
Statement on Colombian Drug War
March 30, 2000
WASHINGTON, DC--House Speaker
J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) today made the following statement on the House
floor in support of U.S. aid to Colombia to reduce the amount of drugs
coming into the United States:
"I rise today in opposition to the Obey amendment and to speak in
favor of U.S. assistance to the Government of Colombia to fight the war
"The supplemental that
we are considering today is about our children and whether we want our
children to grow up in a society free from the scourge of drugs.
"Colombia is the source
of 90 percent of the Cocaine and 65 percent of the heroin that reaches
our neighborhoods, our schools, and our children. Over 52,000 Americans
die every year from illegal drug use. These are the real casualties of
a quiet, deadly battle that is waged on the streets of our cities, our
towns, our neighborhoods, and our schools.
"Some of my colleagues
have said that this package is not the answer. They are correct. Stopping
drugs in Colombia is not the only answer.
"We have a responsibility
to stop drugs in Colombia, to stop them in transit, to stop them at our
border, and to stop them on our streets and in our schools.
"We also have a responsibility
to teach our children to "just say no" and to educate them as
to the dangers of drugs so as to keep them from trying drugs.
"And finally, we have
the responsibility to provide meaningful and effective treatment to those
who are addicted to drugs. This year alone we will spend close to $6 billion
dollars, or one-third of our drug control budget, on treatment and prevention.
"I am personally committed
to working with the President to implement effective and balanced strategies
to win the war on drugs. I welcome the President's supplemental request
and his interest in joining the fight to keep drugs off of our street.
I have spoken to the President on a number of occasions, and I know that
he shares my commitment to protecting our nation and our nation's children
"I am also confident
that the President now understands, as I do, that we cannot turn a blind
eye to Colombia.
"I would like to thank
members such as Bill Delahunt, Sam Farr, Tom Lantos, Cass Ballanger and
John Mica. They have worked with Chairman Callahan and Chairman Goss to
craft a meaningful package that addresses what I believe to be the most
important national security issue facing the American people today.
"There are some who
believe that we should not act in Colombia. There are some who believe
that we should stand by and hope that this crisis will go away. And there
are some who say that this aid should be denied. I disagree with all of
them. It is time for us to reach out a helping hand to Colombia. It is
time that we get serious about creating a drug free America.
"I would like to close
by sharing with my friend and colleague from Wisconsin an important personal
observation and commitment. When I became Speaker, you may recall that
I asked you to be the senior Democratic member on my first trip overseas.
I did this because of my deep respect for you and your knowledge of foreign
policy. I did not regret that decision. I know that your concerns are
genuine. I know you are worried about the steps we are now preparing to
take to aid Colombia. But I want you to know that I will commit personally
to work with you on this issue, in a bipartisan way, to monitor this program
"I have made that commitment
to the President and to many of your Democratic colleagues. I am making
this commitment to you as well.
"We must act now. We
cannot wait. I urge my colleagues to fully support this package."
As of March 30, 2000, this
document was also available online at http://speakernews.house.gov/000330colombia.htm