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Last Updated:10/03/01
Speech by Rep. Jack Kingston
(R-Georgia), July 24, 2001

Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment. However, I do want to commend the author for her sincerity and the work that she has done on the HIV situation.

I oppose this for a number of reasons. First of all, let me reiterate what the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. BALLENGER) just said, that we have over $1 billion in various appropriation efforts to combat AIDS. This bill alone, as the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. KOLBE) has said, we have a $474 million earmark, and then another $80 million that was in the supplemental budget, and we just increased this $18 million with the Visclosky amendment.

Now, compare that over $500 million, just on this bill, Mr. Chairman, to last year's $315 and the year before about $220 million. Clearly, this foreign operations committee is moving at a very aggressive pace to try to help this situation worldwide, but also in coordination with 12 other appropriation committees in their efforts.

This committee is also funding or encouraging the funding of such products as the Morehouse School of Medicine is doing in Atlanta, and other nonprofit organizations and research institutes. So we are clearly committed to fighting the AIDS situation.

I want to also talk about where this money is coming from, because the author of this amendment is taking money out of some very, very vital programs, the foreign military financing assistance programs. Let me just read the names of some of the recipients of this valuable money: Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. These are all emerging democracies in the Balkans.

How can we, at this critical point in their most recent history, turn our backs on them? Why would we cut this money to what are emerging as not just great democracies but also free people and allies for the United States of America? That is what is going on in the Balkans. That is where this money is coming from.

Now, let us look at the Western Hemisphere. This cuts money from people in Argentina, Belize, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica. Certainly, right now, with all the trouble Jamaica is having, it is not time to pull the rug out from under their military assistance.

So I would say, as well intended as this amendment is, it is financed through the wrong mechanisms. And, Mr. Chairman, if that is not bad enough, I want to talk about the Andean initiative and a lot of the criticism of that. And I share the criticism when we rush out on a defense contractor buyer spree, buying helicopters and creating a cottage industry for people who deal in quasi- military equipment, but there are some other programs in there that are extremely important.

Judicial training and witness monitoring that NGOs are doing for some of these countries. Now, I had a constituent several years ago who was jailed in Ecuador. And under the Ecuadoran system of government, an individual has to prove that they are innocent. The state does not have to prove that they are guilty. It is completely different than America. People are put in jail, and they have to build their own case. The government does not even have to tell the person jailed what they are charged for.

One of the great disservices we could inadvertently do for our constituents in America is to put them at further risk when they go to some of these countries in South America. They do need judicial reform, and this money cuts that very needed judicial reform.

So for these reasons I oppose this amendment. Again, I appreciate the sincerity of the authors and the supporters of it, by I think we need to look again at where they are taking the money and the track record of this committee, what it has done, and what its commitment remains to be on HIV.

As of October 5, 2001, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r107:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20010724)
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