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The Problem Of Illegal Narcotics In America

Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Mica) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Rep. John L. Mica

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, usually I come on Tuesday nights to address the House on the problem of illegal narcotics in our society, and what the Congress can do working together to try to resolve the problem of drugs.

Tonight I will only have a few minutes to sort of summarize, because our time is limited.

We have watched on television, a front line report about illegal narcotics. It has gotten the attention of many Americans and Members of Congress.

I came to the floor about a week or two ago and held up this chart. I chair the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources. It is one of the most shocking statistics or report that I have ever received as a Member of Congress or chairing a committee responsible for drug policy.

For the first time in the history of recordkeeping of the United States, drug-induced deaths in 1998 exceeded murder, homicides, in this country. That means we had more people dying from drug overdoses and drug-induced deaths than murders or homicides across our land. That, unfortunately, has been repeated in my community in Central Florida, and it is a very serious problem.

One of the things we have heard is that the war on drugs is a failure. It is very important that the American people and the Congress understand that the war on drugs basically was closed down at the beginning of the Clinton administration.

If we look at long-term trends and lifetime prevalence of drug use, we see that during the Reagan administration and Bush administration there was a 50 percent drop in drug abuse. If one in fact looks at that Frontline report that has been published and viewed across the country lately, we hear of all the things that were instituted: the Andean strategy, the stopping drugs at their source, the Vice President's task force, even going after Noriega for drug trafficking and money laundering of drugs in the Bush administration in 1989. Then we see a dramatic decrease in drug use in the country, a 50 percent reduction.

In the Clinton administration, where we have the ``just say maybe'' policy, where we appoint a chief health officer like Joycelyn Elders as a Surgeon General who says, just say maybe, to our kids, where we abolish the international programs to stop drugs at their source, we have a flood and a huge supply of narcotics. Treatment can never keep up with what we see here and the failure of this administration, and certainly the deaths that we see and the destruction, the devastation.

The other thing is that we do not spend enough money on treatment. That is the line that the Clinton administration used when they took over. Here, we will see the treatment money was being expended and increased under the Bush administration and under the Reagan administration. They also had dramatic programs to deal with the supply, and they cut down the supply.

Here we see treatment spending during the Democrat control, even the Republican control, almost a doubling in treatment over these years. Yet, we see an incredible plague upon our cities.

So we cannot just treat ourselves out of this problem, we have to have a combination of eradication, interdiction, enforcement, education, and also prevention programs that work. Finding the prevention and treatment programs that work is so important. We are spending a lot of money on treatment. We have doubled the amount of money on treatment.

The Clinton administration closed down any semblance of a war on drugs. In hearings that we have held, even today, we found that the $300 million that this Congress appropriated for Colombia some 2 years ago, getting the resources to Colombia, were in fact bungled. We find even in a $1 billion education program we are paying 179 percent over industry standards for placement of ads, and instead of paying a 3\1/2\ percent industry average commission, we are paying 14 percent plus, so ads are not going on the public education and information media. An anti-narcotics campaign is not what the Congress intended.

Getting the resources from Colombia, which is the source of 70 percent of the heroin and some 80 percent of the cocaine, has not been done. The project as administered by the administration has been bungled. This is the result we see. We are back to a dramatic increase in the number of drug-induced deaths, some 16,926, exceeding for the first time in the recorded history of the United States the homicides or murders in this country.

So when people tell us that the war on drugs is a failure, the Clinton-Gore close-down of the war on drugs indeed led to failure, led to death and destruction. The statistics are very clear.

But a successful program such as the Reagan-Bush administration, even though it was a tough one, even though it was a zero tolerance, had a 50 percent reduction in illegal narcotics use in this country, and dramatically gave us a different picture than what we see here today.

Finally, in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I was pleased that last Friday was the first time I have heard anyone who assumes to national leadership take the forefront and mention the problem of illegal narcotics. That was Governor Bush from the State of Texas, who I believe was in Iowa and talked about illegal narcotics, brought it up as part of his campaign.

I hope that we have a leader and someone who is willing to provide the direction to provide successful programs, and also to bring this to the attention and provide the national leadership that we so badly need in this area, because for so long it has been swept under the table. For too long it has been ignored by this Congress.

Again, we see the results of this and the tragedy, death, and destruction to our families and our children.

Mr. Speaker, I would mention that we leave with a saddened heart in the loss of our dearly beloved colleague, Mr. Bruce Vento, the distinguished gentleman from Minnesota, and with our deepest sympathy to his family as we now adjourn for the evening.