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50–150 CC
H. RES. 398






MARCH 26, 1998

Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations

BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York, Chairman
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
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CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
JAY KIM, California
TOM CAMPBELL, California
JON FOX, Pennsylvania
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
RICHARD BURR, South Carolina
SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut
TOM LANTOS, California
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PAT DANNER, Missouri
BRAD SHERMAN, California
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
BILL LUTHER, Minnesota
JIM DAVIS, Florida
LOIS CAPPS, California
RICHARD J. GARON, Chief of Staff
MICHAEL H. VAN DUSEN, Democratic Chief of Staff
JOHN P. MACKEY, Investigative Counsel
ALLISON K. KIERNAN, Staff Associate

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    Text of H. Res. 398
    Amendment in the nature of a substitute to H. Res. 398 offered by Mr. Gilman
Prepared statements:
Hon. Benjamin A. Gilman, a Representative in Congress from New York, and Chairman, Committee on International Relations
Hon. Gary Ackerman, a Representative in Congress from New York
Additional material submitted for the record:
March 26, 1998 letter from the Department of State to Hon. Lee Hamilton, a Representative in Congress from Indiana
Aircraft comparison chart
Payload capacity chart notes for the Black Hawk and Huey II helicopters
Payload capability chart
Huey II operational weaknesses compared to Black Hawk helicopters
Black Hawk utility helicopter photo

House of Representatives,
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Committee on International Relations,
Washington, DC.

    The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 5:15 p.m. in room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Benjamin A. Gilman (chairman of the Committee) presiding.
    Chairman GILMAN. The Committee will come to order.
    The Committee on International Relations meets this afternoon in open session pursuant to notice to consider a resolution relative to the delivery of utility helicopters to the Colombian National Police.
    The Chair lays the measure before the Committee. The clerk will report the title of the resolution.
    Ms. BLOOMER. H. Res. 398, a resolution urging the President to expeditiously procure and provide three UH–60L Blackhawk utility helicopters to the Colombian National Police solely for the purpose of assisting the Colombian National Police to perform their responsibilities to reduce and eliminate the production of illicit drugs in Colombia and the trafficking of drugs such as heroin and cocaine to the United States.
    Chairman GILMAN. Without objection, the clerk will read the preamble and operative text of the resolution for amendment.
    Ms. BLOOMER. Whereas Colombia is——
    Chairman GILMAN. Without objection, the text of the preamble and the operative text is considered as having been read and open to amendment at any point.
    [The information referred to appears in the appendix.]
    Chairman GILMAN. I have an amendment in the nature of a substitute at the desk which the clerk will report.
    Ms. BLOOMER. Amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by Mr. Gilman. Strike the preamble and all after——
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    Chairman GILMAN. Without objection, the amendment is deemed to have been read as original text for the purposes of amendment.
    [The information referred to appears in the appendix.]
    Chairman GILMAN. I will speak briefly and introduce the resolution as amended, and we will then call on any Members wishing to be heard.
    I am pleased to move this bipartisan drug-fighting resolution supported by the leadership as well as by our colleague, the former New York City policeman, Tom Manton. Mr. Manton knows, as I do, the courageous men and women of the Colombian National Police's world-renowned DANTI unit. That is the police anti-drug unit in Colombia.
    Colombia is the key drug source nation in our hemisphere. Eighty percent of the world's cocaine originates there. Over the last few years, more than 60 percent of the heroin seized in the United States originated from down there as well.
    What happens in Colombia affects America's vital national interests, since drugs are so destructive of American society and, especially our youth. The Vice President has estimated that illicit drugs annually cost our society some $67 billion in societal costs alone.
    Today, we are facing a new wave of heroin abuse, especially along the East Coast; and much of this heroin comes from Colombia. All the experts agree that stopping the flow of drugs at its source is the best and most cost-effective way to combat the problem, and most Americans believe that stopping drugs before they reach our shores should be a top foreign policy priority of our government.
    We are in trouble here at home with drug use on the rise. We had 141,000 new heroin users in one recent year. Teen heroin use is now at ''historic levels''.
    We especially need a strategy to combat Colombian heroin. Massive supplies of this cheap, pure addictive drug help create, fuel and sustain demand here at home.
    Bogota, Colombia's capital city, is only 3 hours from Miami by air. An aggressive narco-guerrilla movement is destroying that country's democratic government.
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    A long and difficult struggle to change Administration policy so as to permit more anti-narcotics aid to Colombia ended on February 26th when President Clinton ''certified'' Colombia in the vital national interest of our Nation.
    We now have an opportunity to begin a new chapter in U.S.-Colombia relations and in our fight against the common enemy, illicit drugs and the narco-guerrillas who benefit from the drug trade. However, let us hope that the Administration's latest action is not a matter of being too little and too late, as Colombia slips closer and closer to becoming a ''narco-state''.
    Our military people see the recent defeats of the Colombian army as a grim omen. General Charles Wilhelm, head of the U.S. Southern Command, told Congress 2 weeks ago that Colombia is a nation at grave risk and that it poses a serious regional threat to Panama, Ecuador, Venezuela and its other neighbors as the stain of narco-guerrilla activity spreads to those neighboring countries.
    The narco-guerrillas' monthly income from illicit drugs exceeds the entire annual budget of the U.N. Drug Control Program (UNDCP). We must take this fight seriously or we are going to lose not only Colombia, but generations of American youth as well.
    Why are we discussing the question of helicopter deliveries in this resolution? The answer is quite simple. The Colombian National Police need good utility helicopters since 90 percent of their anti-drug missions involve choppers, choppers that take hostile fire 40 percent of the time.
    They need the Blackhawk utility helicopters that this resolution calls on the Administration to deliver, and they need and deserve them now. We promised to provide these helicopters in the fiscal year 1998 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which the President signed nearly 6 months ago.
    The recent devastating defeat of the Colombian army's elite 3rd mobile brigade in the coca regions in which more than 100 soldiers were killed and 80 captured and several Blackhawks were damaged or destroyed has broken the morale of the army. The only institution now left standing between the Colombian narco-state and our Nation is the Colombian National Police, the CNP, headed by the incorruptible General Jose Serrano.
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    A few days ago, the CNP suffered a needless loss that may have cost the lives of at least six officers because they didn't have a Blackhawk helicopter.
    On a mission to destroy a cocaine lab, a police Huey helicopter was damaged by ground fire from narco-guerrillas and was forced to land. A team of six men were left to guard it until a crew of mechanics could return the next morning to prepare the damaged chopper. The repair unit returned to find one officer slain, the others were missing and are presumed to be dead, all victims of an ambush by the heavily armed narco-guerrillas.
    Had a Blackhawk been available, it would have been able, with its lift power, to carry out that stricken Huey, saving both it and, ultimately, the lives of those six officers.
    Leaders such as General Jose Serrano, Colonel Leonardo Gallego of the Colombian National Police anti-drug unit, the DANTI and many other good people in Colombia fighting against drugs deserve the support of our Nation.
    America's vital interests are at stake. I ask my colleagues to support this resolution to try to procure the kind of help, specifically Blackhawk utility helicopters, that these good cops in Colombia deserve and need as they fight our fight as well as theirs.
    I would be pleased to yield to the gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Gejdenson.
    Mr. GEJDENSON. Thank you.
    I support the Chairman. This is obviously an important investment of the war on drugs and drug trafficking. I hope we pass this very rapidly.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Gejdenson.
    Mr. Ballenger.
    Mr. BALLENGER. Mr. Chairman, as an original cosponsor of H. Res. 398, I support this resolution to procure and provide three Blackhawk utility helicopters to the Colombian National Police. In addition, the resolution calls for the upgrade of many of the existing Huey helicopters in the Colombian fleet.
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    In the fall of last year, I visited Colombia and observed firsthand the struggle, the literal war, the Colombian National Police is waging against narco-terrorists to put an end to drug trafficking.
    Mr. Chairman, we all know, and you have quoted, Colombia is the major drug source nation in the hemisphere, being the world's leading producer of coca and nearly 60 percent of the heroin seized in this country. The National Police need our support; and my friend General Jose Serrano, Director-General of the National Police, told Congress recently that Blackhawk helicopters are what he needs to get the heroin crisis under control.
    On March 23rd, as the Chairman has mentioned, a UH–1H Huey helicopter was shot down in eastern Colombia while attempting to destroy cocaine laboratories. There were two wounded, one killed, and five were left on the ground. Those agents are still unaccounted for.
    Providing Blackhawks and Huey upgrades would better equip the Colombian National Police force to handle such hazardous situations. I feel strongly that we cannot neglect our allies there. The United States needs to be serious in the struggle against——
    Chairman GILMAN. Would the gentleman pause?
    Please allow the gentleman to have his time on the floor without interruption. The Committee is not in order.
    Please proceed.
    Mr. BALLENGER. The United States needs to be serious in the struggle against drugs and support those who share this common goal. Now more than ever, we must maintain our leadership in the war on drugs; and please join me in supporting H. Res. 398.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Ballenger, for your supportive statement.
    Mr. Ackerman.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. No one has more admiration for you than I in the area of drug fighting all around the world.
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    I must say that I have significant procedural and substantive problems with the resolution. I want to address the procedural, if I may, Mr. Chairman.
    First, the Committee rules require that notice of hearings and markups be given 1 week in advance unless there is good cause to begin sooner. I see no such cause.
    We could do this next week. We could do this when we return from the April recess. It is not as though the helicopters are sitting in a warehouse somewhere waiting to be shipped. They are yet to be built. So this resolution will not get them to Colombia any more quickly.
    Second, it is my understanding that a few weeks ago the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee was going to mark up a resolution on the general situation in Colombia sponsored by Mr. Gallegly and myself. Instead, the Subcommittee chairman was asked to delay until the Full Committee had completed its hearings on Colombia.
    Mr. Chairman, as you know, we have another Colombia hearing scheduled for Tuesday so we have not completed those hearings. Why can't we wait until then and let the normal legislative process work its will? This bill, too, should go through the normal process. Mr. Gallegly is a good chairman, and there is no reason to make a run around his Subcommittee for reasons that do not exist.
    In addition, Mr. Chairman, rule 12 of this Committee requires that, and I quote, ''except under unusual circumstances, bills and resolutions will not be considered by the Committee unless and until the appropriate Subcommittee has recommended the bill or resolution for Committee action.''
    Further quoting from that rule, unusual circumstances will be determined by the Chairman after consultation with the Ranking Member. To my knowledge, the required consultations with Mr. Hamilton or any other Member of the Minority have not taken place.
    Mr. Chairman, under other circumstances, I might suggest the absence of a quorum. I might reserve the right to object in the full House to any possible action taken by this Committee, hastily called, contrary to the rules of the Committee.
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    But I am not going to do that, Mr. Chairman. I would ask, at this point, unanimous consent to put my entire statement in the record so that we might proceed expeditiously as the Chairman desires. I do want to set down the concerns of the Minority about proper notification and the other procedural——
    Chairman GILMAN. Without objection, the gentleman's statement will be included in the record.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Ackerman appears in the appendix.]
    Chairman GILMAN. I am going to ask our counsel, Mr. Weinberg, to respond with regard to the notice.
    Mr. Weinberg.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. Mr. Chairman, if I might——
    Chairman GILMAN. If the gentleman will pause for a moment. Mr. Weinberg.
    Mr. WEINBERG. Mr. Chairman, I was not personally involved in the notification, but I have been advised that there was consultation at the staff level between the Majority staff and the Democratic staff on the question of notification and that the rules note, as was read, that the determination may be made by the Chairman whether good cause exists to not give the 1-week notification.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. If I may respond, Mr. Chairman.
    Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Ackerman.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. It was not my intention to engage in a debate or discussion but just to lay down our concerns so that this problem doesn't arise in the future and to secure the cooperation of the Majority in complying with the rules that they themselves have promulgated which we operate under, at least on our side, out of necessity.
    But since counsel has spoken, I do just want to reply, without prolonging this, that notification by one staff to the other is notification. That is certainly not consultation on the part of the Chairman with the Ranking Minority Member of the Committee who—I am told by our staff that received the information from your staff that it was not even notification. It was announced to us as a possibility. So it wasn't even notification, let alone consultation with the Ranking Member.
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    I would just like to notify the Majority that all we are requiring is the common courtesy of being noticed in accordance with the rules which certainly are not drawn in our favor to begin with but under which we would like to know that we are operating in a formal fashion.
    Chairman GILMAN. I thank the gentleman for his comments and for his pertinent remarks. They are duly noted, and we will try to make certain in the future there is better notice.
    We do have an emergency in Colombia. Good men and women are dying, the SOUTHCOM commander, U.S. Marine Corps General Wilhelm, just a little over a week ago said, ''Colombia is very much at risk.'' And about the defeat of the Colombian army in the cocaine regions he said, ''The activities of last week are grim.'' On the need for good helicopters, he said, ''You either get there through the air or on rivers, or you don't get there.''
    We do have a very serious situation in Colombia. We are trying to resolve it.
    Mr. Burton.
    Mr. BURTON. I will be brief, Mr. Chairman. I can only emphasize that what you said is absolutely the case. I hope Mr. Hamilton will listen to what we have to say. This is important.
    Just in the last couple of months we have had a couple of fire fights down there where hundreds of Colombian National Police gave their lives fighting the drug war for us, hundreds. And we have had people kidnapped by the narco-guerrillas down there. I think just—was it just yesterday that five more were kidnapped? That brings the total to 10.
    Without these helicopters, without the mini guns that have been promised again and again and again by the Administration, they are going to lose that war down there. The problem is the northern part of South America will be lost to the narco-guerrillas. I don't think anybody wants Colombia to be lost to the narco-guerrillas. It will be a tragedy and for the United States, who has a real vested interest in stopping these people, it would be a tragedy.
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    We are fighting drug wars on our streets all the time. These drugs are coming in. We have got people down there who are willing to lay their lives on the line and are doing it every day, giving their lives to try to stop these drugs from being produced. We are not giving them any help, at least not the help we should be.
    I have sat in these meetings along with the Chairman day after day, month after month, listening to people promise that they are going to get things down there to them to help them out. Those mini-guns we have talked about forever. The additional helicopters we have talked about forever. They just keep fighting down there without these resources, and they are dying.
    I think that we owe it to them, we owe it to our kids, we owe it to the people in this country that are paying the bills for all these guys that are being incarcerated because of the drug trafficking, we owe it to all the taxpayers of this country to do everything we can to stop those narco-guerrillas from being successful and to stop the production of those drugs at the site.
    I hope that you will join with us in making this a unanimous vote on this resolution to try to spur on as quickly as possible those helicopters getting down there to help fight the war.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Chairman GILMAN. Anyone else?
    Mr. Hamilton.
    Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Chairman, I am not going to try to block the bill or object on the basis of the Rules or anything else. I know the Chairman is very interested in this. There is a real problem with drugs in Colombia. I don't have any doubt at all that the Chairman and Mr. Burton are deeply concerned about it and want to fight drugs. So I am not going to object.
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    I do want to say that I really do not think the Rules of the Committee have been followed here. The Rules require consultation; and the Rules require, in one case, concurrence; and I think I learned about this around 4:15 this afternoon when we were on the floor on the State Department conference report.
    I want the Majority to understand what has happened to the Minority today. You bring forward a conference report on the floor of the House. The Minority was never at any time consulted about that conference report. It was totally written by the Majority. We did not even convene a meeting of the conference, and you bring the report onto the floor. That happened about an hour ago.
    Now you are having a meeting in which the ordinary rules of the Committee are not being followed. I think I could probably make a very strong technical argument that you are in outright violation of the Rules. But I don't want to do that because, as Mr. Burton said, this is a very important matter. That is the process argument. I understand that process arguments don't always get very far in this institution.
    Second, on the substance of it, I think the real question that arises for me is allocation of resources. You have a very limited number of resources. You are putting, I think, is it $36 million into the Blackhawk helicopters? That is a huge amount.
    The Bolivian ambassador just stopped me in the hall out here and said, the program with respect to Bolivia is being cut back sharply; and I am not at all sure in my mind that the most efficient use of total resources here is putting this much money into helicopters for Colombia.
    The Colombian military has helicopters. They have Blackhawk capability. They are not using them in this fight. There is a real question as to whether these helicopters can be maintained. I understand they do not have in the Colombian National Police either pilots for them or maintenance capabilities. Those problems, obviously, have to be solved if you are going to effectively use the Blackhawks.
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    I am impressed by the fact, as I said to our friends from Colombia when they were here the other day, that the Colombian Government is cutting back resources for defense. They are not overly worried about what is going on here. Yet we are putting increased resources, a large number of resources into Colombia.
    So, Mr. Chairman, it is not my intention to block this. I know how much you want it, and you are going to Colombia, and I think you can be helpful and effective down there when you are there. But I did want you to know of my concerns about this. I appreciate the opportunity to state them.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Hamilton.
    I just would like to clarify one thing. My staff informs me that a notice went out last night to the Committee calling for a 2:00 or 2:30 meeting today. Then we had to revise the time because we were given almost momentary notice of the conference report coming on the floor today.
    In addition to that, with regard to the funding, this is an appropriation and authorization that had been made last year, in October, the President signed it into law. All we are asking is prompt implementation of what had already been approved by the proper committees and by the Administration.
    I hope that helps to clarify.
    As part of the resolution, I would like to point out that we are also backing the Bolivian request as presented to the Congress at the same time.
    Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Chairman, if you will yield, I purposely did not want to get into this. But let me read the Rules to you.
    ''Except in unusual circumstances, bills and resolutions will not be considered by the Committee unless and until the appropriate Subcommittee has recommended the bill or resolution for Committee action and will not be taken to the House of Representatives for action unless and until the Committee has ordered reported such bill or resolution, a quorum being present. Unusual circumstances will be determined by the Chairman after consultation with the Ranking Minority Member and such other Members of the Committee as the Chairman deems appropriate.''
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    There was no consultation. You have a flat violation of the rules here. I was trying to be polite about it, and I was not raising it, and the Chairman comes back and tries to put the blame on us. I will not accept that.
    Chairman GILMAN. If the gentleman will yield, I am not trying to put the blame on. But there was a question about notice. We had sent out the notice——
    Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Chairman, the rule is not on notice. The rule says consultation. I am not complaining about the notice. I am complaining about no consultation.
    Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Hamilton, I duly note your concern, and we will try to avoid that kind of a problem from happening in the future.
    Mr. HAMILTON. I appreciate that.
    Chairman GILMAN. Thank you.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. Mr. Chairman, if I might, as I, too, suggested in my opening statement, we did not really want to get into this. We just wanted to say our piece and you notice it and try not to let it happen again, and we will all be happy and fight over some issues as we should be doing.
    But the notice is not just 1 night's notice. It is 7 days. It is a week's notice. So even if it was last night—but we don't want to get technical. We don't want to suggest the absence of a quorum. We want to get this done with, and we do have some policy issues, but we will let it coast as of now.
    Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Fox.
    Mr. FOX. Mr. Chairman, I want to take the opportunity, along with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, to thank the Chairman for his leadership.
    We can just note briefly that Colombia is a key drug source nation in our hemisphere. Eighty percent of the world's cocaine originates there. Over the last few years, more than 60 percent of heroin seized in the United States originated from Colombia there as well. So the obvious need for the Blackhawk helicopters is an emergency. They will help us take a great step forward in our fight to win the war against these dangerous drugs.
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    I look for a quick, unanimous vote on this bill.
    Chairman GILMAN. Any other Member seeking recognition?
    If not, are there any amendments to the measure before us?
    If not, the question is on the amendment in the nature of a substitute. All those in favor, signify by saying aye.
    All those opposed, say no.
    The amendment is agreed to.
    The gentleman from Indiana is recognized to offer a motion.
    Mr. BURTON. Mr. Chairman, I move that the Chairman be requested to seek consideration of this resolution as amended on the suspension calendar.
    Chairman GILMAN. The question is on the motion of the gentleman from Indiana. As many as are in favor of the motion signify by saying aye.
    As many as are opposed, say no.
    The ayes appear to have it. The ayes have it. The motion is agreed to.
    Further proceedings on the motion are postponed.
    Mr. Ackerman.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to put the Administration's remarks in the record.
    Chairman GILMAN. Without objection.
    The Committee stands adjourned.
    [Whereupon, at 5:45 p.m., the Committee was adjourned.]