Colombia Funding in the President’s 2003 Request for Supplemental Appropriations

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In March, 2003, the Bush Administration presented a special “supplemental” budget request to Congress to fund the war in Iraq. Included in this request was military aid for a number of other countries the administration considers allies in the war on terrorism—including $105 million in military aid for Colombia. Colombia had already received over $500 million in aid from the US for 2003. The memo below was written by LAWG and expresses concerns about this additional request. The bill was passed by the House and Senate on April 12, following an intense debate over the Colombia aid.

The President's March 25th request for supplemental appropriations for the war in Iraq includes a considerable sum for Colombia—$105 million.

The President in his request asked Congress to "refrain from attaching items not directly related to the emergency at hand." The Colombia funding is not directly related to the war in Iraq. Irrespective of one's stance on US Colombia policy, it would seem wiser and more appropriate to provide funding for Colombia through the regular appropriations process. Moreover, Colombia has just received over $500 million for '03 ($400 million in funding through the Andean Counterdrug Initiative in 03 as well as $99 million in foreign military financing). For 04 the President has requested over $700 million for Colombia ($313 million in interdiction, $110 million in foreign military financing, $150 million in social aid, some additional refugee assistance and an estimate of $120 million likely to be in the defense bill if similar to 03's request).

This supplemental funding deepens the involvement of the United States in Colombia's civil war and further tips the already unbalanced US package toward military/police assistance rather than social aid.

The supplemental includes the following funding specifically for Colombia:

$34 million for "Drug Interdiction and Counter-Drug Activities" under Department of Defense/Operation and Maintenance," to "fund increased operational tempo in Colombia's unified campaign against narcotics trafficking and terrorist activities."

$34 million under "Department of State/Other" for the Andean Counterdrug Initiative "to support extension of police authority to areas of the country that currently have little or no law enforcement presence, enhanced presidential security, bomb squad equipment, and for the unified campaign against narcotis and terrorism."

An estimated $36-37 million is included as part of the foreign military financing listed under "International Assistance Programs/International Security Assistance." A total of $2.059 billion would be provided for 19 countries, including Colombia.

The supplemental must be approved rapidly. Funding for Colombia should be carefully considered as part of the regular appropriations process.