by Rep. James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), July 24, 2001
Chairman, let me begin by first thanking the gentleman from Arizona (Mr.
KOLBE) and the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. LOWEY) for their incredible
work on this bill.
Today, I rise to
urge my colleagues to support this amendment that I and the gentleman
from Michigan (Mr. HOEKSTRA), the gentlewoman from California (Ms. PELOSI),
the gentlewoman from Maryland (Mrs. MORELLA) and the gentlewoman from
Texas (Ms. JACKSON-LEE) are offering together.
Mr. Chairman, this
is a relatively simple amendment. First, it will add $50 million to the
infectious diseases account specifically for international tuberculosis
programs. We need to invest more in programs that combat the spread of
TB. Funding for international TB control was virtually nonexistent in
1997. While funding has modestly improved in recent years, we still have
a long way to go to make up for the long-running neglect.
Current funding levels
are not sufficient to address the scope of the disease and to protect
the health of Americans. TB kills 2 million people each year, and more
than one-third of the world's population is infected with TB. It is the
leading killer of women and creates more orphan children than any other
infectious disease. As the New York Times editorialized last week, a little
money now can control this neglected killer before we face a global epidemic.
The amendment will
also add $50 million for the Child Survival and Maternal Health account.
Eleven million children die every year from preventable causes. Child
survival programs are critical to saving the lives of children and have
been one of the most effective U.S. investments for the last decade and
a half. The polio eradication programs in particular have been highly
successful; and since 1998, polio has been reduced worldwide by 90 percent.
According to the
World Health Organization, maternal health is the largest disparity between
the developed and developing countries. Maternal mortality is on average
18 times higher in developing countries, and children are much more likely
to die within 2 years of a maternal death.
The increase funding
provided by this amendment for these global health programs will literally
make the difference between life and death for billions of people. This
is a modest investment that will yield critical returns.
The offset for these
programs will reduce the $676 million Andean Counter-Drug Initiative by
$100 million in military aid for the Colombian Armed Forces. Here, too,
the choice is simple. This House has a chance to send a straightforward
message to the Colombian military: sever all ties with the paramilitary
groups and sever them now. As my colleagues know, over 70 percent of the
human rights crimes committed against the civilian population in Colombia,
massacres, torture and the destruction of communities and the displacements
of the population, are perpetrated by the paramilitaries, and the Colombian
military works in collusion with those groups. In fact, just recently
Amnesty International issued a report on the persistence of ties between
the Colombian military and their paramilitary cohorts.
The last Congress,
the previous administration, and, to date, the current administration,
have failed, in my opinion, to act seriously about human rights in Colombia.
We have attached human rights conditions to our aid package that are essentially
meaningless. If the Colombian military behaves badly, and it has, we have
been content to waive our conditions and to keep writing checks. What
kind of message did this send?
Today, we have an
opportunity to send a different message, to show that we do care about
human rights, that we are serious when we demand that the Colombian military
stop collaborating with paramilitary forces. Congress should not be an
apologist for bad behavior. We should not look the other way or rationalize
what continues to be a disturbing alliance that threatens the future of
civilian institutions in Colombia.
Now, let me point
out to my colleagues that nearly $300 million remains in this bill to
help Colombia and the Pastrana government with development, moving the
peace process forward, strengthening civil and judicial institutions and
supporting the police. In the defense appropriations bill, which we will
debate later this year, there will be at least $80 million for the Colombian
Armed Forces. In addition, approximately $158 million in military aid
remains in the pipeline from last year's package.
This amendment is
not about walking away from Colombia; rather, it is about saying very
clearly that human rights do matter and that the way to promote stability
in the region is for the Colombian military to end its collaboration with
Now, even if some
of my colleagues are ambivalent about the Colombian offset, I hope you
will not be ambivalent about supporting increased funding for these critical
women's, children and health programs. The Andean Counter-Drug Initiative
is $226 million more than the amount in this bill for our worldwide programs
to combat infectious diseases and for child survival and maternal health;
$226 million more.
This amendment is
truly about choices, about priorities, about saving lives. I urge my colleagues
to support the McGovern-Hoekstra-Pelosi-Morella-Jackson-Lee amendment.
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)