July 10, 2000
Last-Minute Supplemental Spending is Dangerous and Unnecessary
"Emergency" Spending Bill is Pork-Barrel Politics
Recently, House members approved a fiscal year 2001 Military Construction appropriations bill that also contained an emergency supplemental spending package for fiscal year 2000. The bill provides a total of $20 billion in new federal spending, $11.2 billion of which is supplemental spending for fiscal year 2000. I voted against this massive new spending. Congress should be required to adhere to its existing fiscal year budget, just as families and businesses must operate within their own budgets.
The supplemental spending bill is dangerous, wasteful and unnecessary. Every year Congress decides midway through its fiscal year that it didn't budget enough money, so it creates an "emergency" to justify new spending. This year the "emergency" requires that we spend more on the failed drug war and more on sending our troops overseas. The big spenders in Congress made certain the supplemental bill was packaged with a Military Construction bill, which insured its passage during eleventh-hour voting. Congress already spends far too much money, and this additional $11 billion in spending cannot be justified.
Worse yet, much of the spending contained in the supplemental bill goes overseas. Several South American countries, including Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador receive a total of $1.3 billion taxpayer dollars. Colombia alone receives approximately half a billion dollars for costly helicopters and U.S. training of its police and military forces in "counternarcotics" activities. I find this a particularly dangerous and expensive proposition. Our nation should not be spending billions of dollars and sending 60 military helicopters to the Colombian Army and National Police to escalate our failed drug war. We risk another Nicaragua when we meddle in the internal politics and military activities of a foreign nation. Sending expensive helicopters to Colombia is the worst kind of pork-barrel politics- helicopters are ineffective weapons of war, as we have seen in Vietnam and Somalia. The American people are tired of paying their tax dollars to fund expensive toys for foreign governments. Taxpayers should demand that Congress demonstrate the national interest served before it sends billions to foreign nations.
I also oppose the $2 billion in spending authorized for the ongoing Kosovo military action. I consistently have decried our involvement in UN "peacekeeping" missions, which really are acts of war requiring congressional approval. Moreover, our national sovereignty is threatened when we place our troops under UN command. We don't need to spend more money on Kosovo or any other foreign war the UN deems deserving. Time and time again we have seen the disastrous consequences of meddling in wars which do not involve our national interests. We should get our troops out of Kosovo and stop trying to police the world. UN "peacekeeping" in Kosovo doesn't work, and we should not be spending billions of dollars in "emergency" funds perpetuating our involvement. The American people are tired of sending our troops abroad under UN command to interfere in conflicts unrelated to our national interest.
This bill contains the kind of massive foreign aid spending and political maneuvering that people in my district have had enough of. Farmers in Texas struggling with drought conditions have every reason to oppose our sending $25 million to Mozambique for disaster relief, as called for in the bill. U.S. taxpayers have every reason to oppose billions in new spending for fiscal year 2000 simply because Congress seems incapable of adhering to its budget. We cannot throw our tax dollars at every global problem, and we should not let special interests and back room deals dictate our appropriations process.