by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), October 24, 2001
LEAHY. Mr. President, I am rather disappointed with this amendment. Senators
have every right, of course, to offer any amendment they have.
This bill has been
before the Senate for almost 2 weeks now. We just heard about this amendment
a very short time ago today. This amendment cuts at least $164 million
from important programs, as the Senator from Minnesota and others have
I mention the money
it is cutting because these are programs where funds have been requested
by both Republicans and Democrats.
The amendment of
the Senator from Florida would transfer those funds to the Andean Counterdrug
Program. That program essentially consists of military and economic assistance
to four principal countries--Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador--but
these are not countries that are going unfunded. They already get over
a half billion dollars in this bill--well over a half billion dollars.
They get $567 million.
I do not believe
there is any region, other than possibly Middle East countries and the
former Soviet Republics, that gets that amount of money. That $567 million
is on top of the $1,300 million--$1.3 billion--that we provided for Plan
Colombia last year. In fact, it is not a half billion dollars; it is more
than a half billion dollars. It is nearly three-quarters of a billion
dollars when you include the economic and development aid in this bill
for the Andean countries, and that is there on top of the counterdrug
So you take the
funds that are already in this bill--not the funds added by the Senator
from Florida, but the funds already in this bill--and we will have provided
over $2 billion for these countries in the past 16 months; in 1 1/3 years,
over $2 billion.
In fact, by pouring
money down there so fast, they can't even spend it yet. Much of last year's
funds have not even been disbursed. Even though they have not spent all
the money, we are giving them another $700 million in additional funding
It is no secret
that--and, actually, I am not alone in this body--I am skeptical that
this program will have an appreciable impact on the amount of illegal
drugs coming into the United States. We have spent billions down there,
and drugs are just as accessible. In fact, in our country, for many types
of drugs the price has actually gone down.
I suggest, until
we start doing something about reducing the insatiable demand for drugs
here, in the world's wealthiest country, we are not going to do too much
good about incoming drugs. As long as the money is there, we can stop
them in Colombia, but they will just come from somewhere else. Secretary
Rumsfeld has said much the same thing.
In fact, a lot of
other members of the Appropriations Committee--in both parties--expressed
similar doubts in a hearing we held earlier this year. We had a hearing
where the administration came up.
We asked them: By
the way, how much money has been spent that we have given you so far?
They said: Gee,
we don't know. We will try to get back to you on that.
We said: Well, with
a billion dollars or so, you must have some kind of basic idea what you
spent the money on.
They said: We don't
know, but we will sure check into it.
When my kids were
little, I gave them a small allowance. I did not expect them to tell me
where it all went--whether it was baseball cards or comic books or ice
cream cones or something like that--but we were talking about a few dollars.
When you give somebody $1 billion, you would kind of like to know what
they do with it.
So I said: If you
can't tell us where you spent it, how about letting us in on a little
secret. Has anything been accomplished with the money we gave you?
They said: We will
have to get back to you on that. We
don't know how much
has been spent. We don't know how much has been accomplished. We do know
we have another $700 million in this bill, and we have a whole lot of
money in the pipeline that is not yet spent.
We keep pouring
money in. We do not even know if the program will work. But the administration
wants some money in there. We put in a lot of money. We have a lot of
other similar programs, especially in foreign policy. We pour a whole
lot of money in there and not much comes out.
We have spent billions
of dollars to combat drugs in the Andes over the past 15 years, and we
have eradicated coca and we have eradicated opium poppy in several places,
but, of course, they just pop up somewhere else. It is sort of like Whack-A-Mole--knock
down one, it pops up somewhere else.
And we have found one other thing: The flow of illegal drugs into this
country, no matter what we do in other countries, reflects our demand.
If the demand for drugs goes up in this country, the flow of drugs coming
into this country increases. If the demand for drugs drops, the flow of
drugs into this country drops. Far more than what we do with our Customs
agents--and they are extremely good--or the DEA or the Coast Guard or
anything else, in a nation of a quarter of a billion people, if we want
to spend billions upon billions upon billions of dollars for drugs, the
drugs will come.
But even though
there is serious doubts about whether this works, Senator McConnell and
I have tried to give the administration the benefit of the doubt. We include
another half billion dollars in this bill, on top of the billions already
The senior Senator
from Florida, who is in this Chamber right now, is a good friend of mine.
We have worked together on many issues. But I would like to see him try
to do the balancing act we have had to do in this bill to get money for
a program that actually most of us on the committee do not even like,
but to give money for that program, and do the other things in this bill.
We have had 81 Senators
requesting funding for all sorts of programs we tried to fund. I want
to be fair; 81 Senators asked for some funding, and 3 did ask for some
money for the Andean Counterdrug Program. Eighty-one of the 100 Senators
asked for funding for various items in this bill; 3 of the 100 Senators
asked for funding for the Andean Counterdrug Program. Other than a few
lobbyists, it does not seem to be the most popular program.
But we have a bill
that is in balance. I know the administration supports the Andean program.
They also support the Economic Support Fund. They support the Foreign
Military Financing Program. They support funding for the former Soviet
Republics. They support money for Central and Eastern Europe. They support
money for the International Military Education and Training Program. They
support money for our contributions to the World Bank and United Nations
programs. There are a number of things the administration supports.
In fact, they have
put together a legislative blivet. They support a lot more programs than
there is money in this bill. If you put up a chart: Shown up here is what
they support in programs, down here is where they put money. So we have
had to take the money we have available. We have taken the programs supported
by the administration, and also assuming the Congress has some say in
how the money is spent on programs supported by this body and the other
All these accounts
were cut by the House and, actually, in some cases they were cut below
what the President requested. We restored them to help out the administration.
We made choices. We made choices which reflect the administration's priorities
and Senators' priorities. They are not always the same requests. In fact,
we were unable to fund over $3.4 billion in requests from 81 Senators.
Now this amendment would cut those even further.
In fact, the Andean
Counterdrug Program received a lot more funding than many other critical
programs. We provide more money for the Andean Counterdrug Program than
we do to combat AIDS, which infects another 17,000 people every day. Many
Senators wanted to provide more money to fight AIDS and also to help fulfill
the President's commitment to do that, but we are $1 billion short of
what we should be spending on AIDS.
provide more for the Andean Regional Initiative than we do for assistance
to the world's 22 million refugees.
Other Senators have
asked for more money for refugees, but we were unable to do it partly
because of the huge amount of money we are already putting in the Andean
provide over twice as much in this bill for the Andean Counterdrug Program
as for all disaster relief programs worldwide--for victims of war, earthquakes,
drought, and other calamities in all of Africa, Central America, and Asia--even
at a time when we are trying to point out to the rest of the world that
we are not the Great Satan that Osama bin Laden and others try to make
us out to be, that we do help in these areas. We don't help as much as
the Andean Counterdrug Program, but we will help.
When I see requests
for more money for the Andean Counterdrug Program, it worries me. We already
spend four times as much for the Andean Counterdrug Program as for basic
education programs worldwide, even though the President and Members of
both parties have said we should do more to help improve education worldwide
so that we will have educated people and the next generation coming along
will be educated and have a better idea of what the United States and
other democracies are like as well as what the real culture of their own
country is like.
We provide four
times as much for the Andean Counterdrug Program as for microcredit programs
for loans for the world's absolutely poorest people, loans that help in
many countries allow women, for the first time in the history of those
countries, to have a basic modicum of independence. For women who have
absolutely nothing otherwise, have no way of doing it, this program helps.
We provide four times as much for the Andean Counterdrug Program. We provide
more for the Andean Counterdrug Program than we do for antiterrorism programs
or nonproliferation programs. We actually should be spending twice as
much for those programs. We can't because of all the money we are already
putting into the Andean Counterdrug Program.
At some point we
have to set some priorities. We have poured in money so fast they can't
even spend the money they have in the pipeline. The administration, when
they provide sworn testimony before the Congress, can't even tell us what
the money is being spent for. Yet they want more. How many other programs
do we have to cut? We provide more for this than we do for our export
Let's go back and
tell some of the small businesses in America that depend on the export
business and that could employ people at a time when the economy is going
in the tank, let's tell some of these small companies, sorry, we can't
help you build up your business so you can export and hire people who
have been laid off to come back because we have to give the Andean Counterdrug
Program more money beyond the billions we have already spent.
Maybe we ought to
be cutting these export programs. The heck with putting people back to
work; we have to send some money down to the Andean Counterdrug Program.
We don't know where it is going. We don't know how it is being spent.
We know it is not effective. We know it hasn't stopped drugs coming up
here. But let's make ourselves feel good and send it down there. Sorry,
you are getting laid off from your factory job here.
I care about international
health. We have a total of $175 million in this bill to combat infectious
diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria. They kill about 3 million people
a year. We can help, with some of this money, to make sure some
of these infectious
diseases that are a postage stamp or an airplane trip away from the United
States, to stop them from coming in this country. But we don't have enough
money to do that. We don't have enough money not only to help these people
eradicate these diseases in their own country but to stop them from coming
into our country because we don't have enough money. Why? We are spending
four times more on the Andean Counterdrug Program, four times what we
are doing to stop diseases--smallpox, tuberculosis, malaria, or the Ebola
plague--from coming into our country.
Ask somebody who
has picked up the paper in the last few days what they think our priorities
One would think
from this amendment that Senator McConnell and I don't support a counterdrug
program. That is not so. We are willing to give the benefit of the doubt.
It hasn't proven it has done anything yet. It has yet to demonstrate any
impact on the drug program in this country. But we are willing to give
the administration a chance, and so we have thrown in a half a billion
dollars on top of the $1.3 billion of last year. The administration says
it has not worked. It can't show
anything where it has been successful, but ``give us some more and we
will do it.'' We have done that.
If we add even more money for it, where do we cut? This amendment cuts
across the board. It cuts Egypt. It cuts Israel. It cuts Jordan. It cuts
money for the former Soviet Union. It cuts education. It cuts TB prevention
programs. It cuts education of children. It cuts programs that might give
some economic stability to poor women across the world. Why? To go into
an Andean Counterdrug Program where they can't even account for the money
I want to help Colombia.
I want to help Bolivia. I want to help Ecuador. I want to help Peru. We
have put a half a billion dollars in here to do that, even though that
is money from priorities that might do the country better.
I met the head of
Colombia's armed forces last week. I have met him before. I have nothing
but complete respect and admiration for President Pastrana of Colombia.
I consider Colombia's Ambassador, Ambassador Moreno, a friend. I think
he is one of the best ambassadors any country has sent here. He knows
how the administration works. He knows how our country works. He knows
what our culture is. He speaks out forcefully for his own country. He
does it with great respect for Colombia, but also with appropriate respect
for the country in which he is serving. In fact, I sometimes wish some
of the ambassadors we sent to other countries could do their job as well
as Ambassador Moreno does.
I hope that this
half a billion dollars--actually more than half a billion dollars--that
Senator McConnell and I have put into this bill will pay off in the Andean
Counterdrug Program. But in the past year we have seen the civil war in
Colombia intensify. We have seen the paramilitaries double in size. There
have been more massacres of innocent civilians by paramilitaries this
year than ever before. There is indisputable evidence that the paramilitaries
are receiving support from some in the Colombian armed forces.
Funding that we
provided last year to strengthen Colombia's justice system has yet to
be spent. Some of it has been allocated for purposes that bear little
if any resemblance to what Congress intended, in a bipartisan fashion,
it to be used for.
has destroyed a lot of coca. But there are also supposed to be alternative
programs from which to give farmers something else to earn a living. They
have barely been used. They have not spent tens of millions of dollars
we provided last year, and USAID has serious doubt about Colombia's ability
to implement these programs.
If we don't give
these farmers an alternative source of income, if we don't use the money
we sent to do that, does anybody doubt that we will see these farmers
planting coca again so they can feed their families? I wish they wouldn't.
I think it is wrong they do. But let's be realistic. If you have a hungry
family there, you are not going to think of the people of another country
who spend more money on their drug habit in a week than these people ever
see in a year.
I share the concerns
of the Senator from Florida about the use of drugs in this country, especially
in my own State. I was a prosecutor for 8 years.
I have some very
strong views on these issues. Heroin use has been steadily increasing
in Vermont. Like any Vermonter, that frightens me and worries me. But
the Andean Counterdrug Program is not going to have any impact on that
problem we have in Vermont. Yet there is a half billion dollars in this
bill. It is not going to help most States. Let's see how last year's money
gets spent. Let's see how this year's half billion dollars gets spent.
Then if the administration comes here before Senator McCONNELL's and my
committee next year and starts telling us, gee, we don't know where the
money is going, how it is being spent, or if it is having any effect,
or they are able to tell us how it is being spent and what effect it has
had, then we can talk about more money.
Before we throw
a whole lot more money into the problem, let's see if the $718 million
does any good in the first place.
I yield the floor.
As of October 25,
2001, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r107:@FIELD(FLD003+s)+@FIELD(DDATE+20011024)