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Speech by Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-Georgia), June 21, 2000
Mr. 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 place.

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 up.

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.

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