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Public Statements

Merida Initiative to Combat Illicit Narcotics and Reduce Organized Crime Authorization Act of 2008

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


MERIDA INITIATIVE TO COMBAT ILLICIT NARCOTICS AND REDUCE ORGANIZED CRIME AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - June 10, 2008)

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Mr. CHABOT. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I'll be brief. Let me just start by saying that I appreciate both the chairman's and the ranking member's work on this critical issue. Drugs and cartels and the violence and terror that they bring not only undermine public safety but threaten our security as a Nation. We need to work cooperatively with those nations that are on the front lines of this drug war that we've been involved in for such a long time.

However, I want to mention one fact that I think is very important. Last summer, news reports highlighted the unwillingness of the Mexican Government to work with the U.S. to resolve a mile and a half boundary dispute near Columbus, New Mexico. Because of a mapping error, the fence that we're building was constructed on Mexican land. Although the U.S. government promptly notified the Mexican Government of the error, the Mexican Government demands that the mistake be corrected at a cost of $3 million to the United States; this, despite the fact that the previously existing boundary had never been in dispute prior to notification by the U.S., and the fact that the U.S. has provided more than $270 million in aid to Mexico between 2004 and 2007, including more than $140 million for counter-narcotics and law enforcement.

Today, we are authorizing funding for an additional $1.6 billion over 3 years. Last July, I introduced House Resolution 545, which states that it is the sense of this Congress that if Mexico doesn't work together to resolve this boundary dispute, U.S. assistance to Mexico should be reduced in a corresponding amount; in other words, $3 million. If it is costing the taxpayers of this country $3 million to do this, which was previously an undisputed border area, it seems like it ought to come out of their money and not ours, since we were the ones that brought it to their attention to begin with.

Now, some people up here in Washington may think that $3 million isn't a lot of money. Well I can tell you it is a lot of money to the folks back in my district and districts all over this country, particularly when you figure that we are spending approximately $4 a gallon for gas nowadays. So it is a lot of money and ought to be taken seriously.

If the U.S. and Mexico are truly partners, and we claim to be, and they claim to be, we should be working together in all areas, including the construction of this fence. We ought to be working cooperatively in this matter. And it plays a key role in our international interdiction efforts, not to mention the border security.

So this $3 million, if we are going to have to go back and rebuild this because of this good faith error, I believe that ought to be taken out of the U.S. aid which is going in their direction, and not from the U.S. taxpayer.

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