2000 EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 146, No. 40
(Extensions of Remarks - April 04, 2000)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E487-E488]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                               speech of

                            HON. KEN BENTSEN

                                of texas

                    in the house of representatives

                       Wednesday, March 29, 2000

       The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of 
     the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 3908) making 
     emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year 
     ending September 30, 2000, and for other purposes:

  Mr. BENTSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in reluctant support of the Fiscal 
Year 2000 Supplemental Bill, which provides over $9 billion in 
emergency funds for this year. This bill provides $5 billion for 
ongoing operations in Kosovo, $2.2 billion for natural disaster 
assistance, $2 billion additional funds for the Defense Department, and 
$1.7 billion in assistance to Colombia, Peru, and to fight narcotics 
  While I support the Supplemental Appropriations bill, I have strong 
reservations about using this legislation as a vehicle to circumvent 
the regular appropriations process. Many initiatives and decisions 
contained in this bill should be part of the regular FY 2001 
appropriation process rather than trying to slip under the past and 
current year spending levels. This bill reduces the non-Social Security 
budget surplus for this year by about 35%. Such efforts don't speak 
well for the often-stated Congressional pledges to pay down the debt. 
Too often under this GOP leadership, the term ``emergency'' is 
misunderstood and misused. This Emergency Supplemental request should 
not be an opportunity to evade spending caps for non-emergency items.
  I supported the increases of the Lewis-Spence amendment, which would 
provide $4 billion in additional emergency funds, mostly targeted at 
maintaining critical need areas under the Department of Defense. While 
it would be preferable to consider this funding during the regular 
budget process, I believe the military has urgent needs in the areas 
specified by the amendment. Under the amendment, an additional $4 
billion will be provided to fund the operations and training of 
currently deployed forces, as well as provide much-needed increases for 
the military health care program, personnel recruiting and retention, 
and improvements to military housing. However, this amendment 
underscores the fallacy of the Majority's FY 2001 Budget Resolution 
adopted last week.
  The Supplemental Appropriations bill does include important funding 
for fighting the drug war in Colombia and providing the military with 
adequate funding levels to pay for rising fuel costs; health care and 
repairing damages to military facilities caused by recent hurricanes, 
floods and other natural disasters is understandable. These are truly 
unforseen costs.
  I decided to support the Emergency Supplemental because the 
assistance package for Colombia is a vital priority and is clearly in 
our nation's fundamental interest. Colombia is the source of more than 
80 percent of the cocaine and much of the heroin that enters the United 
States. In fact, Colombia produces 60 percent of the world's cocaine 
crop, an astonishing 90 percent of which makes its way to the U.S. The 
cost of illegal drugs to the U.S. is $110

[[Page E488]]

billion a year, and the U.S. Drug Czar, Barry McCaffrey has reported 
that illegal drugs account for 114,000 American deaths a year. 
Assisting Colombia is clearly in the interest of our nation and 
especially in the interest of our nation's youth.
  In 1999, Colombia's President Pastrana unveiled a proposal, known as 
Plan Colombia, to address the country's drug production and civil 
conflict. The Government of Colombia has estimated that $7.8 billion 
will needed over the next three years to reverse the country's role as 
the hemispheric center for drugs, rebuild its economy and bolster its 
democratic institutions.
  But as we offer assistance to Colombia, it is important that we 
include tangible means for measuring the actions of the government-
supported forces. We must ensure that the funds we provide to Colombia 
are utilized in a manner consistent with our national interest. That is 
why I supported the amendment offered by my colleague from Wisconsin, 
Mr. Obey that would have delayed funding for military hardware and 
training contained in the Colombia assistance package until July 15, 
2000. The amendment would have provided for immediate funding of all 
drug interdiction efforts under the Administration's plan, but with 
withheld military aid until sufficient review by Congress. The delay 
would have provided the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on 
International Relations, and the Select Committee on Intelligence time 
to hold hearings about the conflict in Colombia and the need for this 
kind of hardware and training before the funds are appropriated.
  I believe the funding contained in the aid package should not serve 
as a blank-check for the Colombian military to engage in actions that 
may violate human rights, including the killing of innocent civilians. 
It is important to remember that since 1987, it has been reported that 
more than 35,000 noncombatant civilians have been murdered or made to 
disappear by the Colombian security forces and their paramilitary 
allies. While President Pastrana has made important strides in 
restoring the rule of law and improving the human rights record of the 
military, the U.S. should act very carefully before appropriating funds 
to any army with such a decidedly bloody record.
  I also believe this legislation should have included drug prevention 
measures to reduce the demand for illegal drugs in the United States. 
Such an effort must be part of a comprehensive U.S. anti-drug strategy. 
Indeed, I find it ironic that we're considering an emergency 
supplemental bill in the House of Representatives whose emergency 
status is in part due to the production of illegal drugs in Colombia, 
without one dollar in the bill being used for drug prevention in the 
  Illegal drugs are killing our kids at an alarming rate. In 1998, five 
million young people in this country required treatment for drug 
addiction, and nearly 600,000 required an emergency room visit. In the 
United States, there are 1.6 million drug-related arrests annually, and 
over half of our prison population committed drug-related crimes. Even 
more disturbing, while the average age for marijuana users in 
increasing, heroin abusers are getting younger. The cost of drug abuse 
to our society is estimated to be $110 billion per year, but it is much 
higher if measured in countless lives lost and young dreams broken. 
This problem, Mr. Chairman, is staggering. As such, I supported the 
motion to recommit the bill back to the Appropriations Committee with 
instructions that it be reported back to the full House with sufficient 
domestic drug prevention funding. While this effort failed, I hope the 
Administration and the Majority take important steps to address the 
demand side of the drug problem in this country. If we are to truly 
eradicate drugs from our streets, we must recognize that when there is 
a demand, there will always be a willing supplier.
  Finally, Mr. Chairman, I sincerely hope that, should this bill 
progress, the leadership will pare back spending which is not truly 
emergency. Much of this bill can be considered under the regular 
appropriations process for FY 2001. We should be reticent to completely 
ignore spending caps for the current fiscal year as this bill does.