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Last Updated:10/05/01
Speech by Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Arizona), July 24, 2001
Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the McGovern amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I do rise in opposition to this amendment. I am reminded just a couple of days ago when we first took up this bill, last Thursday, that several Members came to the House floor to praise the bill. The manager on the other side of the aisle and I appreciated the compliments about bipartisanship and the balance that is reflected in the committee's recommendations. But approval of this amendment would weaken that hard-to-achieve bipartisanship. It would destroy the balance that is found in our bill. Let me explain why I think this is the case.

First, as a Member who comes from southern Arizona and represents a border State and a border district, I know the importance of Latin America to the United States. I am sure the gentleman from Massachusetts is also personally familiar with Latin America and parts of it. I am sure he does not intend to shortchange development in Latin America, but that is what this amendment would do.

Let me state a very simple fact: this amendment cuts development and humanitarian assistance for Latin America by $50 million, or more than 10 percent of the amount in this bill. Let me repeat and elaborate on what I just said: the McGovern amendment cuts development assistance to Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil. The McGovern amendment cuts human rights and humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons in Colombia. Yes, it would also cut some military assistance for Colombia. Read the last part of the amendment; page 25, line 7: ``After the dollar amount insert the following, reduce by $100 million.''

It does not read cut military assistance to Colombia by $100 million; it does not exempt economic assistance for the Andean region, assistance for Peru or Bolivia or funding for the Colombian National Police. Now, I have seen a ``Dear Colleague'' letter that makes those claims. In fact, it says, ``The amendment does not cut any economic assistance for the Andean region, assistance for Peru, Bolivia or funding for the Colombian National Police.'' This is incorrect. This is not true. This is a misstatement. This is not a fact. It is not correct. It simply is wrong.

My conclusions reflect the text of the amendment that is before us. My assumption is that the executive branch will allocate reductions mandated by this amendment across all programs in the Andean Regional Initiative. It would be equally reasonable it assume that the executive branch would give priority to eradication and security assistance and make cuts in development and humanitarian assistance beyond what I assume.

It is not reasonable to assume, I think, that the executive branch under this, the previous President or any President, is going to take all the money out of the Colombian Army. So it is reasonable it assume this money is going to come out of economic assistance. As much as the gentleman from Massachusetts may wish that it would come all out of the military assistance, the amendment does not say that. So it is incorrect for us to assume that that would be the case. In fact, we can assume quite correctly that it would come out of all of those.

Of course, some support this amendment because they seek more funds to combat tuberculosis, and that is a noble cause. More deaths among women under 45 are caused by TB than by AIDS. It is the major immediate cause of death of those living with HIV-AIDS.

The question is how rapidly can the Agency for International Development and its cooperating organizations ramp up what had been a relatively small program for TB. Only 3 years ago, AID was spending less than $15 million for TB. This year, we recommend $70 million. That is an almost five-fold increase. It is difficult to implement that in the short-term.

This amendment would add another $50 million to that, bringing it to $120 million, or an eight-fold increase, 800 percent increase, over 4 years. Yes, the needs are there, but how quickly can we absorb that? How quickly can the infrastructure around the world absorb that?

I am reminded of the efforts of Queen Elizabeth I to cure her subjects of tuberculosis, of those people who were within the Queen's touch. In the 17th century, a form of glandular TB known as the King's Evil caused horrific swelling from infected glands in the neck. Eventually it led to death. So wherever Queen Elizabeth went around her kingdom, persons infected with this form of TB would crowd around her, hoping the royal touch would cure them. Some days she touched hundreds of people, and was exhausted by the effort.

I wish, I wish that the $50 million here for tuberculosis could make the difference hoped for by the sponsors of this amendment. However, like the royal touch of Queen Elizabeth, another $50 million for tuberculosis may raise indeed our spirits and make us feel good, but it is not going to affect tuberculosis for the current year.

Unlike Queen Elizabeth's touch, however, this amendment will have adverse effects. It will cut development assistance in Latin America. It will signal to our neighbors that this country is disinterested in their security and in their development.

I urge my colleagues to defeat this amendment.

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