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Last Updated:10/05/01
Speech by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California), July 24, 2001
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the McGovern amendment; and I commend the gentleman for his leadership in bringing it to the floor. I want to follow up on some of the remarks made by the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. OBEY), the distinguished ranking member, on the need for us to have this debate.

We are talking about, between last year and this year, a $2 billion expenditure on this initiative that has seen very little light of day in terms of what it contains and what its effectiveness is. What the McGovern amendment would do is to take $100 million from that funding for the Andean initiative and spend it on child survival and maternal health and to fight infectious diseases, polio tuberculosis and malaria.

Where that money would come from is a line in the bill that simply says, ``for necessary expenses to carry out section 480 of the Foreign Assistance Act solely to support counterdrug activities in the Andean region of South America, $676 million, to remain available until expended.'' It does not say anything about economic assistance, human rights, humanitarian assistance, or anything like that. It says, ``$676 million.''

We would have liked for this amendment to be a match for the one I offered in committee, where we could say that the $100 million came from the military assistance, but the Committee on Rules would not have put that in order.

So in responding to the comment of the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. KOLBE) that it takes from these other areas, no, it does not. The goal is to take it from the military assistance. If the administration chooses to take it from humanitarian and economic assistance, that is the choice of the administration. It is not the wish of the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. MCGOVERN) or the cosponsors of his amendment.

Why is this important? The gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. OBEY) said earlier that the Rand organization presented a report that said that treatment on demand in the United States is 23 times more effective than eradication of the coca leaf in the country of origin. Think of it. It is estimated to cost about $32 million to reduce demand in the United States 1 percent by treatment on demand.

If instead we try to reduce demand 1 percent in the United States by eradication of the coca leaf in Latin America, it will cost over $700 million. Do the math. That is 1 percent for a 1 percent reduction.

In our country, there are about 5 1/2 million substance abusers. About 2 million of them receive treatment, and 3 1/2 million do not. Why are we not spending the money, which is 23 times more effective, on treatment on demand to reduce demand in our country, rather than sending all of this money, to the tune of $2 billion, and it will grow next year, for a policy that has been ineffective?

I am very respectful of President Pastrana and his good intentions and hard work and, again, in recognition of the fine work that my colleagues, the gentleman from Arizona (Chairman KOLBE) and the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. LOWEY), the ranking member, have done on this bill, but this part of the bill must be debated more fully and the Andean Initiative must be reduced.

What does the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. MCGOVERN) spend the money on? He spends it on tuberculosis. Few diseases are as devastating and widespread as TB. TB kills 2 million people each year and is only second to AIDS as the biggest infectious killer of adults in the world.

Although there is a very cost-effective cure for this disease, only one in five who are sick receive adequate treatment. The good news is that effective treatment does exist. It is called DOTS, the Directly-Observed Treatment Short course, and it is effective. It costs between $20 to $100 to save a life.

According to the international TB experts, a worldwide investment of $1 billion is needed to make DOTS available to all of those ill with TB, and an appropriate U.S. share would be $200 million. The money would go to the foreign operations bill, to increase its funding for polio eradication.

While the bill has $25 million in it, Rotary International, which has been a leader in the eradication of polio, says we need a minimum of $30 million for that eradication. We are in a race to reach every last child with polio. We can do it.

We need the resources to do so. It seems to me that is money much better spent than in the unknown, slow-to-come, trickling-through-the-pipeline humanitarian or economic assistance that was promised to Colombia but where they have seen more on the military side and hardly anything on the humanitarian and economic side.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to follow the leadership of the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. MCGOVERN) and all the other makers in this amendment. I have failed in the subcommittee and in the full committee, but I am more hopeful on the floor of the House that if we want to reduce demand of drugs in the United States, we will do it in a cost-effective way.

If the burden of proof of this is, have we helped the Colombian people and reduced drugs in the U.S., we have failed on both counts. Support the McGovern amendment.

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