HR 4300 -- 09/16/98

September 16, 1998

H.R. 4300 - Western Hemisphere Drug Elimination Act
(McCollum (R) Florida and 55 cosponsors)

The Administration supports the objectives of H.R. 4300 and shares the Congress' commitment to reducing the supply of drugs coming into the United States from other countries in the Western Hemisphere. However, the Administration opposes H.R. 4300 as currently drafted. Some of the Administration's concerns include:
  • Funding enhancements that are not tied to a coherent strategy . The bill simply enumerates a series of specific procurement and funding actions without indicating how they relate to one another or to existing drug interdiction activities. The Administration has proposed a comprehensive and integrated approach to reducing the flow of drugs into the United States in its National Drug Control Strategy.

  • Proposing authorizations that are far in excess of expected appropriations and the President's Budget without specifying where these funds will come from. H.R. 4300 would authorize $2.6 billion in appropriations in addition to those already authorized for FYs 1999-2001. To date, Congress has not appropriated funds for many of the Administration's anti-drug abuse requests. As one example, the House has provided the Coast Guard with approximately $82 million less than requested for FY 1999 to maintain current operating levels.

  • Infringing on the authority of the President and the Secretary of State. H.R. 4300 would infringe on the President's appointment powers and the Secretary of State's flexibility in personnel matters and intrude upon well established procedures for providing foreign military assistance.

  • Suggesting the transfer of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) from the State Department to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The clear assumption of Section 207 is that certain foreign assistance activities of the State Department could be better carried out by a law enforcement agency. This assumption is neither substantiated nor soundly based. INL is a central and highly-regarded component of the interagency counter-narcotics effort.

  • Imposing inflexible requirements that could quickly become useless. The bill would authorize funds for two mobile x-ray machines to be placed along a specific highway in Bolivia. The locations of such machines should not be specified by statute but left to the discretion of the commanders on the ground.

  • Reducing the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies by consolidating joint interagency task forces (JIATF). Consolidating all JIATFs would reduce Defense Department support to law enforcement agencies attempting to disrupt the flow of drugs from Asia and the Southwest Border.

The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to implement a drug control strategy that is realistic, comprehensive, coherent, and flexible.