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Last Updated:6/25/00
Speech by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), June 21, 2000
Mr. STEVENS. It is above my pay grade. I will speak for 2 minutes and express my position. If the vote occurs while I am gone, people will see an old bull scratch the ground very hard.

As a practical matter, this position that we have taken is the best one for Colombia. We looked at this very seriously. This account is under attack now. Does anyone think year after year after year after year we will be able to declare an emergency on this account?

We provided the Hueys. They can have two or more times the number of Hueys for the cost of what the administration wants to do with Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are fighting machines. They will be the tip of a sword going into another Vietnam, if we are not careful. What they need are the Hueys. They need to transport these people. They need to be able to fight against the drug people. They do not need to get these so they can fight against the insurgents.

I urge the Senate to realize what we are doing. We are doing our utmost to increase the tremendous pressure upon the drug operations in Colombia. We want to do that in a way that Colombia can sustain the cost without coming back to this Congress year after year after year to ask for money to maintain what we provided.

Others have spoken about the costs. The Huey is

a good machine. We are upgrading the Huey and providing our own troops for them. There is no reason for anyone to be ashamed of flying a Huey in combat. But it is not the type of situation that calls for Blackhawks to be a part of our operation against the drug lords. What we need to do is provide the assistance they need and to give them the ability, if they want to continue this, to operate these machines.

I cannot see why we should start this precedent. I assume Senator McConnell made the same comments. We have similar situations all over the world. We are going to be faced in the next decade with trying to suppress the supply of drugs coming literally from all over the globe. This is no time to take the frontline item that we have for war-fighting machines and provide it as assistance to people trying to suppress drug producers.

I wish I had more time to deal with this because I believe very strongly that if we go to the Blackhawks--with the cost of operation per hour, the high maintenance cost, the high cost of continued operation--we will start a trendline that this budget cannot sustain into the future. We have to think about this not only in terms of what we will do now but what it will do in terms of outyear costs to continue this assistance. It is not a 1-year operation. We will not be able to stop this drug operation in Colombia in 1 year.

We have done our best. In fact, we have not done it yet. If this account gets overloaded, I seriously question even surviving the Senate. We have been warned about that in terms of the level of support. I believe Senator McConnell and his committee have brought to us a bill that meets the needs, gives them the assistance, and gives them the support to carry out their operations against the drug lords without getting the U.S. in the position of building up a military force in Colombia to deal with the other problems they face internally.

I hope the Senate agrees with our position.

As of June 25, 2000, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:S21JN0-228:
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