FAS Note: The following remarks of Rep. Tim Roemer are excerpted from House debate on the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill which included $1.7 billion for counternarcotics activities in Colombia; around $5 billion for various other national security programs; and more.
Congressional Record: March 29, 2000 (House) Page H1495-H1585 2000 EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT [...] Mr. ROEMER. Mr. Chairman, I rise to strongly support the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi) that stresses prevention, that stresses education, that stresses us putting more of a priority on our domestic concerns right here at home, in our neighborhood, and in our back yards. I also rise to show and express my deep reservations and concerns about, one, the process in spending contained [[Page H1534]] in this supplemental; secondly, the goals and the mission and whether or not they can be achieved for trying to address the problem in Colombia. I think we are all concerned about it. We all want to do something about it. It is whether or not this program will achieve the mission and the objectives outlined by the administration. I do not think we can. Thirdly, I object to this supplemental because it contains a particular classified intelligence funding program, and I will address that at the end. First of all, on the size, the spending level, and the process of this supplemental. This is an emergency supplemental which, by its function here in Congress, I do not necessarily object to emergency supplementals. The gentleman from Arkansas said that it started with the President. It started at $5.2 billion. Now it is before us, the entire House, at $9.2 billion. We will have amendments that might be attached to it that might take it to $13 or $14 billion. Then it will be sent over to the Senate, where it might come back to the House at $15 or $16 billion. Maybe I am more of a conservative in the House. Maybe I am to the right of the majority. But we have made so much progress on balancing the budget. We have made a priority of getting surpluses. We have tried to tell Congress to keep their hands off of social security. Now, in the third month of the year, before we have done any appropriations bills, we are looking at a presidential request of $5.2 billion to $15 billion. I do not think that is appropriate or fair to the appropriations process and to the priorities that we are going to outline. The gentleman from California (Mr. Lewis) might bring a defense bill in the appropriations process forward that I will support an increase in, or the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Porter) might bring an appropriations bill for education with new ideas and more accountability that I will support. But this is an emergency supplemental that may spend, that may spend, one-third to one-half of the non-social security surplus in one shot. We have a $26 billion surplus. This may take $13 billion of that surplus in one vote. Finally, on Colombia, Colombia has had a 40-year civil war, an ongoing drug problem, and an army and a police force that have not worked together. As a matter of fact, institutionally and culturally and law enforcement training-wise, they do not work together well at all. And we think $1.9 billion, 30 Blackhawks, and 15 Hueys is going to cure that? I do not think this is going to address the civil war or further the peace process. I think it is going to exacerbate both. Finally, on the intelligence front, as a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I take an oath of secrecy. To abide by that oath, this statement has been approved by the committee to confirm and conform to that oath. This bill contains some classified funding requested by the administration for intelligence programs and activities. As a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I generally support most of this funding. There is a particular intelligence activity funded by this bill, however, which I cannot support. I try to judge spending on intelligence programs by the same standard I use on other Federal spending: Is the program in the national interest, and likely to achieve its goals? The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Roemer) has expired. (By unanimous consent, Mr. Roemer was allowed to proceed for 30 additional seconds.) Mr. ROEMER. Mr. Chairman, in my judgment the intelligence activity which I have reservations on fails on both these counts, on both achieving its goals and supporting the national interest. I have advised senior officials in the administration of my concerns. I hope that this decision to continue this particular activity will be reconsidered.