This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

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Last Updated:6/25/00
U.S. Government Information:
The Full Senate

Summary of debate and links to statements
Overview of key Colombia-related votes

Key Members:

Republicans:

Trent Lott (R-Mississippi), the Senate majority leader, opposed considering the Colombia assistance in its present legislative form, as an "emergency supplemental" appropriation for the year 2000. Lott added the Colombia aid to the regular 2001 appropriations bills, and became a key proponent.

  • Motion to proceed, Sens. Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) and Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota), May 18, 2000
Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Appropriations Committee chairman. At a February 24 hearing Stevens asked U.S. Southern Command Chief Gen. Charles Wilhelm, "Who's going to go in if this blows up? Tell me this is not a Vietnam again." Stevens nonetheless supported the package, and had favored consideration of an emergency supplemental appropriation for 2000.

Slade Gorton (R-Washington) introduced an amendment at the May 9 Senate Appropriations Committee markup that would have reduced to $100 million the Foreign Operations outlay for Colombia, essentially gutting the administration's proposal. Sen. Gorton's amendment failed by a narrow margin, with 11 voting in favor and 15 against. A similar amendment introduced in the full Senate debate failed by a wider 79-19 margin.

Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), chairman, Foreign Operations Subcommittee. McConnell expressed concern about the aid package at a February 24th hearing, noting that "The more the administration spends in Colombia, the more coca is grown." He nonetheless supported the Senate's version of the package.

Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Paul Coverdell (R-Georgia) authored legislation in October 1999 that offered military and police aid to Colombia. The "Alliance with Colombian and the Andean Region (Alianza) Act" (S.1758) in many ways resembles the administration's January 2000 proposal.

Lincoln Chafee, who heads the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Commitee, voiced strong doubts about the Colombia aid package at a February 25 hearing.

  • Statement of Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island), February 25, 2000

Democrats:

Bob Graham (D-Florida) was perhaps the Senate's most outspoken supporter of the aid package.

Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) helped push the administration's aid package through the Senate.

  • Motion to proceed, Sens. Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) and Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota), May 18, 2000

Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), ranking member, Foreign Operations Subcommittee. Sen. Leahy added strong human rights conditions to the Senate's version of the new military aid for Colombia. At a February 24 hearing Leahy warned, "I have serious doubts about the Administration's approach. ... It is just as likely that it will lead to a wider war, more innocent people killed, more refugees uprooted from their homes, and no appreciable change in the flow of cocaine into the United States."

  • Statement of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), hearing of Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee, February 24, 2000

Joseph Biden (D-Delaware), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said at a February 22 hearing that he supports the administration's proposal, but hopes the aid will be managed with utmost openness. "We should seek transparency ...about the numbers of U.S. forces present in the country, transparency about the use of our equipment, and transparency about the activities of the U.S.-funded battalions." Biden traveled to Colombia in April 2000.

  • Report to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Delaware), May 3, 2000
  • Press release by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Delaware), May 3, 2000
  • Statement of Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Delaware), February 22, 2000
  • Press release from Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Delaware), February 22, 2000

Sen. Paul Wellstone introduced an amendment to transfer funds away from Colombian military aid and into domestic drug treatment. The amendment failed by a vote of 89-11.

The views of Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut), the ranking member of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee, were made clear in a March 6 New York Times article. "Mr. Dodd acknowledged that he had returned from Colombia just days before the aid plan was made final in December and had told senior administration officials he would support it. But he said he did so reluctantly, pushing for more economic development aid, and he insisted that he never pressed the officials to buy Blackhawks." (The UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter is a product of Sikorsky, a Connecticut-based manufacturer and a division of United Technologies.)

Dodd introduced an amendment that would likely have put Blackhawk helicopters back into the Senate's version of the aid package. It failed by a 51-47 vote.

  • Speeches by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), April 13, 2000

Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia), ranking member, Appropriations Committee. Speaking on the floor of the Senate on February 29, Sen. Byrd said, "The White House calls this funding an emergency. I think we have more than enough emergencies here on our home soil that demand urgent attention. It is time to get our priorities straight."

  • Statement by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia), May 9, 2000
  • Speech by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia), February 29, 2000 (brief mention of Colombia package)

A skeptic about the aid package, Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) changed his position after traveling to Colombia in mid-June with Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island).

  • Speech by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), June 19, 2000
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