by Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Arizona), July 24, 2001
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
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.
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)