by Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-Georgia), June 21, 2000
COVERDELL. Mr. President, I yield myself up to 10 minutes of our time and,
of course, reserve the remainder of the time when I conclude my remarks
for our side.
We have heard a lot of interesting
remarks. I rise against the amendment of the Senator from Minnesota. I
associate myself with the remarks of the Senator from Delaware.
I would like to try to not
repeat everything that has been said but try to underscore several fundamental
basic points with regard to these issues.
The first is that over the
last 8 years, funding for drug treatment and drug prevention has increased
by $1.6 billion. I repeat, it has increased over the last 8 years. The
amendment of the Senator from Minnesota would increase it even further.
On the interdiction side of
the ledger, during the same 8 years, there has been a decrease in the
funding for interdiction. So interdiction is dropping and treatment and
prevention is growing.
What happens when the Federal
Government moves away from its responsibilities to protect our borders
and to engage international narcotics entities? I can tell you what happens.
The United States is flooded with more drugs--because there is nothing
there to stop that--the price of those drugs plummets, and more of our
children become addicted to narcotics. Almost the reverse of what this
amendment seeks to achieve happens.
As of Friday, June 9, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave us these alarming figures.
In 1991--so this is the same timeframe I have been talking about--14.7
percent, about 15 percent, said they used marijuana. Who is `they'? They
are 9-year-olds to 12-year-olds--children 9 years old. By 1999, the figure
was 27 percent.
This is the period we are
all talking about here, where our interdiction dropped and where we increased
treatment and prevention. What has happened? We have had more and more
youngsters--kids, children--using drugs.
In 1991, 31 percent of students
reported they tried marijuana at least once. By 1999, when we cut off
the interdiction, it had grown to 47 percent.
In 1991, 1.7 percent of students
said they used cocaine. By 1999, 8 years later--no interdiction--4 percent
said they used cocaine. It doubled.
What we have essentially seen
is that, while we have increased the prevention, while we have increased
the treatment, and lowered interdiction, more and more kids have taken
up using drugs.
I have to tell you, the greatest
prevention program in the world and the greatest treatment program in
the world is to keep the student--the child--from using them in the first
Point No. 2, our borders and
our work with international partners, whether it is Colombia or Bolivia,
or Peru, or Panama--you name it--is the sole responsibility of the Federal
Government. No other entity can practice the interdiction. Georgia cannot
do it. California cannot do it. Minnesota cannot do it. Only the U.S.
Federal Government can exercise the muscle to protect our borders and
to work with our alliances.
Prevention and treatment require
Federal support, which has been growing rapidly, with State support and
community support. It is a multifaceted effort and should be there. But
only the Federal Government can do what this underlying bill suggests
has to be done.
Point No. 3, the battle in
Colombia is not an ideological
battle. It started out that
way, but it isn't anymore. This is a battle against a narcotics insurgency.
They have 3 percent support in the entire country. In that country, 33,000
people have been killed fighting this. And 800,000 Colombians are displaced,
as in Kosovo, and we are going to turn our back?
Colombia sits in the center
of the Andean region and has already pushed its trouble into Panama, into
Ecuador, and into Peru. The entire region is being affected by this struggle
to maintain a democratic government in Colombia. War is a very ugly thing.
It is particularly ugly when it is driven by narcotics and narcotics money,
by people who care for no life, none of these 9- to 12-year-olds, no person,
not even their own citizens who would be laced with armaments and blown
Will this be a perfect exercise?
No. It isn't a perfect world. And this is a very imperfect circumstance.
We have told the people of
Colombia--the President of the United States; his representatives, from
Ambassador Pickering to General McCaffrey--that we understand the scope
of this problem, both its relationship to Colombia, the United States,
and the entire hemisphere, and that we are going to help, and that we
are going to join the Europeans, and we are going to join the Colombians
in the struggle; that we are going to train; that we are going to work
on human rights; that we are going to work on social institutions and
the fundamentals of law and the judiciary.
Legislation to do that was
introduced last October. The President and the White House endorsed their
version of it--it is very similar--in February. Here we are in nearly
July and we are tied up in knots. You can only say, `The cavalry is coming'
for so long.
The funds for drug treatment
and prevention that the Senator from Minnesota seeks have been growing
and growing rapidly. The interdiction has been collapsing. When it collapses,
more drugs are available. The number of kids using drugs has almost doubled--9-year-olds,
10- and 11- and 12-year-olds.
The Federal responsibility
is to not allow that into our country, and no State can do that. This
amendment undermines the sole purpose the Federal Government has on this
issue. This amount of money can be sought in 50 different States in 1,000
different communities, which they ought to contribute.
Interdiction has collapsed;
utilization by our children has doubled. It is a Federal responsibility
to address this problem. We better get on with it. Colombia is the heart
of it. If we lose there, we lose everywhere. You can't win a war by just
treating the wounded.
I retain the balance of my
time for the chairman of the committee.
As of June 25, 2000, this document
was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:S21JN0-36: