Jim Abrams of the Associated Press reported on July 24, 2001 that The
House of Representatives voted to protect money for fighting drugs in
South America from lawmakers who argued that foreign aid dollars would be
better spent against AIDS and other world health problems.
The defeat of amendments to shift money from the Andean antidrug
initiative to health programs was a victory for the Bush administration,
which said that any reductions below what the president wanted ``would
undermine the effort to develop healthy, licit economies and strong
democratic governments in the Andes.''
The $15.2 billion foreign aid spending bill for the fiscal year
beginning Oct. 1 contains $676 million to fight drugs and advance economic
and political stability in Colombia and its neighbors. That total is
already $55 million lower than the president's budget request.
But many lawmakers, led by Democrats, questioned the wisdom of military
aid to Colombia and said combating the ravages of AIDS and other disease
should be a higher foreign aid priority.
By 2005, 100 million people around the world will be infected by
HIV-AIDS, said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. ``How much more staggering
would the numbers have to become for us to respond in a way that is
commensurate with the leadership of our country?''
The bill provides $474 million for international AIDS programs.
Included in that amount is the $100 million the president requested for an
international HIV-AIDS trust fund.
The House, by a 240-188 vote, defeated an amendment proposed by Rep.
Barbara Lee, D-Calif., that would have shifted $60 million from the Andes
initiative and military aid programs to the AIDS trust fund.
Then, by a 249-179 vote, it rejected an attempt by Rep. James McGovern,
D-Mass., that would have reduced military aid to Colombia by $100 million,
moving half that money into programs to fight tuberculosis and the other
half to child survival programs.
McGovern said he wanted to send a message to the Colombian military
that it must sever all ties with paramilitary groups accused of human
rights violations against Colombian civilians.
But opponents of the two amendments argued that the Andean anti-drug
effort was a vital national security matter. ``What we don't want to do
here today in misguided compassion is to turn the clock back on our
efforts to stem illegal narcotics,'' said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla.
The successor to President Clinton's $1.3 billion anti-drug plan, which
concentrated on military aid to Colombia, the initiative provides support
in such areas as coca crop eradication and crop replacement, judicial
reform and bringing peace to Colombia. It aids Colombia's neighbors'
suffering from spillover effects of illicit drugs and terrorism in that
House members close to the steel industry succeeded Tuesday in amending
the bill to cut $18 million from the Export-Import Bank budget, the same
amount the bank approved in a loan guarantee to a Chinese steel company to
modernize its plant.
``The bank has financed the production of additional steel by a company
that continues to dump steel products in our domestic market,'' said Rep.
Peter Visclosky, D-Ind., before the 258-162 vote.
Opponents of the amendment contended that the Ex-Im Bank, funded
originally at $805 million for the fiscal 2002 budget, provides a valuable
service to small businesses trying to sell their products overseas.
But Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., said the steel loan was unwise because
it helps the Chinese steel industry at a time that American steelworkers
are losing work and there is a glut in world steel markets. The House vote
would shift the $18 million to AIDS and children's programs.
The foreign aid bill also includes $768 million for Russia and former
states of the Soviet Union, $2.7 billion in military and economic aid for
Israel and $2 billion in aid for Egypt.
It requires the president to determine whether the Palestine Liberation
Organization is complying with commitments to renounce terrorism and
includes possible sanctions, including closing the PLO information office
in Washington, if the PLO doesn't meet its promises.
The Senate has not yet taken up a version of the bill.
The foreign aid bill is H.R. 2506: On the Net:
House Appropriations: http://www.house.gov/appropriations