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Last Updated:3/31/00
Speech by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-New York), March 30, 2000
[Page: H1618]

Mr. CROWLEY. Mr. Chairman, I speak today to express my strong opposition to this so-called Supplemental Appropriations bill and to express my outrage at its ridiculous level of funding.

H.R. 3908, as approved by the House Appropriations Committee on March 9, would appropriate $1.701 billion for counter-narcotics activities, including $1.07 billion for Colombia, $4.956 billion for peacekeeping operations in Kosova and related matters, and $2.243 billion for Hurricane Floyd and other disaster assistance, plus several smaller non-emergency items.

Amendments considered during the course of debate on this measure have dramatically increased its cost.

A major concern of mine regarding this supplemental is that no authorization language was passed to allow Members the opportunity to argue for funding for projects important to them. As a Member of the Committee on International Relations and the Representative of the largest Colombian-American community in the U.S., I was hoping to be involved in the development of our policy on Colombia.

We should have developed a bill that would strike a balance between the needs of international concerns, such as Colombia, human rights and Kosova, and domestic spending priorities. I would have supported such a bill. Unfortunately, despite the inclusion of the amendment by Congressmen Gilman, Goss, Delahunt and Farr, this supplemental doesn't balance these issues.

Mr. Chairman, the reasons to oppose this legislation are too numerous to list in a short floor statement, so I will just highlight some key issues, mostly dealing with the military and counter-narcotics assistance provided in this package.

First, I object to the fact that such a large change in U.S. policy regarding Colombia and counter-narcotics assistance has not gone through the normal authorization process. The Republican leadership and the International Relations Committee had ample time to introduce legislation and have it debated in Committee. As it now stands, we are appropriating billions of dollars in military and counter-narcotics assistance, and who knows what else, without the benefit of thoughtful policy evaluation that the authorization's process was designed to give.

Second, the supplemental originally sent to the House floor is about $3.8 billion higher than the President's request and the Appropriations Committee had only offset $421 million. Meaning the rest must come out of the budget surplus--not that there is any left after the Republican tax cut scheme passed recently.

Third, while I am extremely supportive of assistance to Colombia, it needs to be the right kind of assistance. The provisions in this legislation dealing with civil society programs are woefully inadequate, especially when compared to the vast funding levels for counter-narcotics assistance.

Mr. Chairman, I have met with Colombia leaders in Washington, D.C., in my Congressional District and in Colombia. I have traveled to Colombia and seen the need for U.S. assistance. I know the problems of the Colombian people and I am especially supportive of judicial reform efforts, but this supplemental is not going to help them.

Fourth, where is the money for domestic prevention and treatment? Interdiction plays a role, but it is next to useless without prevention and treatment programs. Demand will always find supply. Congresswoman Pelosi's amendment should have been protected under the rule.

Fifth, I am troubled by some of the provisions in this supplemental which are being termed an emergency. Certainly, I believe the money for LIHEAP, the assistance for Colombia civil society and money for peacekeeping funds for Kosova warrant an emergency, although one we saw coming last year. However, there are a number of spending provisions which do not come close to meeting the definition of an emergency, yet they are not offset.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to oppose the supplemental and I request that the relevant committees be asked to deal with these funding increases through the normal budget process.

As of March 31, 2000, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:H30MR0-20:

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