House Panel Okays Colombia Aid, Nixes Drug Treatment Funds, Floor Vote Postponed 3/17/00

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The House Appropriations Committee last week (3/9) approved $1.7 billion in aid to Colombia -- primarily military aid -- which constituted a $500 million increase over the Clinton Administration's request. The same day, the Committee rejected a proposed $1.3 billion prevention and treatment package put forward by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Pelosi, the ranking Democrat on the committee, expressed her concern to reporters. "They want a military solution," she said. "We want a humanitarian solution to the war on drugs. The discussion is not over."

But the debate, in committee at any rate, was certainly over as the Colombian package was approved by a vote of 33-13. Rep. David Obey (D-WI), who joined Pelosi in dissent, sought to have $552 million in military aid held over until the next session, rather than added to the aid package immediately. Obey, however was also rebuffed.

"I think you must have confidence in your president," taunted Rep. Sonny Callahan (R-AL), referring to Clinton's support for military aid to Colombia. "Your lack of confidence in your president is stunning to me."

"I elect my president every four years to be my leader," replied Obey. "But I do not elect my president to do my thinking for me."

The Colombia package was scheduled for a vote on the House floor yesterday (3/15), but has been postponed. The vote may take place on Tuesday.

Commentator Arianna Huffington criticized the Colombia package and analyzed the financial interests that have influenced it, in a syndicated column published Tuesday, online at http://www.ariannaonline.com/columns/files/031300.html.

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