President Uribe and his opponents Friday morning links
Apr 262007

In March 2006, Rep. Dan Burton (R-Indiana) added $26.3 million in new military aid for Colombia to a bill adding “supplemental” funds for Iraq, Hurricane Katrina relief, and the “war on terror.” Said Burton at the time, “[W]e have to decide as a Congress are we going to continue to fight the war against drugs or are we going to start acquiescing? Are we going to start caving in?”

The funding, intended to give Colombia maritime interdiction aircraft, was to come from a cut to an unpopular program: prison construction in Iraq. It passed the Republican-majority House by a vote of 250-172. The Senate didn’t include the $26.3 million, so both houses ended up splitting the difference: the bill, signed into law last June 15, ended up adding $13 million to Colombia’s 2006 military and police aid total (about $600 million).

Almost a year has passed, and the aircraft purchase has not been finalized. Now, a much different, Democratic Party-led Congress has almost completed another “supplemental” funding bill for Iraq and the “war on terror.”

In a surprising move, this bill – as agreed to by the House and Senate – will undo last year’s Burton provision. The final bill adopts this language, which was proposed by the Senate:

Of the amounts made available for procurement of a maritime patrol aircraft for the Colombian Navy under this heading in Public Law 109–234, $13,000,000 are rescinded.

President Bush is likely to veto this bill because it sets a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. It will have to become law eventually, though, because the government needs the “supplemental” money. Once it passes, it appears that our estimate of 2006 U.S. military aid to Colombia will decrease by $13 million.

This is a small but significant step. It is the first legislative evidence so far that the new Congress intends to change course in Colombia.

3 Responses to “Congress takes back some military aid”

  1. jcg Says:

    “This is a small but significant step. It is the first legislative evidence so far that the new Congress intends to change course in Colombia.”

    If reductions and restrictions in this field are joined by increases in others that have been severely underfunded, I’d hope.

  2. Adam Isacson Says:

    Hear, hear. A “war on terror” supplemental is not the venue, though.

  3. jcg Says:

    Oh, definitely. You’re right about that.

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