On Thursday, March 29, the House of Representatives was expected to vote on and pass an Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill (H.R. 3908), including a $1.7 billion anti-drug assistance package to Colombia and its Latin American neighbors, championed by drug czar Barry McCaffrey and some conservatives in Congress. Amendments that would have eliminated the Colombia package, or stripped out the military component, were rejected on the House floor on Wednesday.

The Colombia package has been more controversial that its proponents expected, however, and human rights, Latin America and drug policy reform advocates were encouraged by the degree of opposition shown on both sides of the Congressional aisle. Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-MN) held a press conference with Sylvester Salcedo, a retired Navy Lt. Commander who has come out against the drug war, and Ramstad presented an amendment to eliminate the Colombia package (see interview below).

The Ramstad amendment received 158 votes in favor, 89 Democratic, 68 Republican and 1 independent. (Visit http://143.231.123.93/cgi-bin/vote.exe?year=2000&rollnumber=86 to see who voted for and against.) An amendment by Rep. David Obey (D-WI), eliminating the military portions, received 186 votes, 127 Democratic, 58 Republican and one independent (results at http://143.231.123.93/cgi-bin/vote.exe?year=2000&rollnumber=84).

The appropriations bill now moves to the Senate, where it is facing opposition from Sen. Trent Lott, who says he is opposed to various additional spending having been included and that he wants it to be debated during the usual appropriations session next fall. Sources report that the package could easily come back sooner, even as soon as Tuesday.

Please visit http://www.drcnet.org/stopthehelicopters/ to write your Senators in opposition to the Colombian drug war funding.

The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation has released a four-page briefing paper about the current state of drug trafficking and drug control in Colombia and the proposed anti-drug aid package, online at http://www.cjpf.org/pubs/ColombiaPaper.html. Rep. Ramstad's statement is available on his web site at http://www.house.gov/ramstad/, click on the March 21 link.

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Issue #131, 3/31/00 ON CAMPUS: HEA Reform Campaign Gains Support | Colombia Package Passes House Through Opposition, Moves to Senate | Interview with Sylvester Salcedo | Senate Passes Civil Forfeiture Reform Bill Unanimously | New York City Update | Amherst Voters Approve Referendum to Deprioritize Marijuana Enforcement | UK: Police Foundation Report Calls for Marijuana Decrim, Lower Penalties for Other Drugs | Newsbriefs | Salon.com on Maine Medical Marijuana, Netherlands Drug Policy | Editorial: War On Us All
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