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Public Statements

Congressional Budget for the United States Government for Fiscal Year 2007

Location: Washington, DC



Ms. CANTWELL. I rise in support of this amendment offered by my colleague from Missouri who has played a leadership role in trying to tackle a very difficult problem that is impacting various parts of our country. It is unfortunate the parts of our country that have seen this problem have to come to the Senate and wage this battle to convince people who have not had this problem occurring in their communities how important it is.

I say that because if we do not fight meth and combat it on a nationwide basis, we will see the meth problem continue to grow across the country. That is why this particular amendment is so important.

Two weeks ago we took an important step in combating this crisis by passing legislation to actually authorize a comprehensive program to combat meth across the country and in the Hot Spots Program. In Washington State, we have seen methamphetamine grow, first being the second State in the Union with the number of meth drug labs. Only with a comprehensive approach by law enforcement, prevention, and a variety of people in the community were we able to lower that ranking from second in the country down to fifth in the country. While we have made some progress, unfortunately, we pushed the problem to our neighboring State to the south and Oregon became the No. 1 spot in the country for meth labs.

As we have lowered the number of meth labs being discovered in Washington State, we also saw a different effect taking place, an actual increase in the number of deaths related to methamphetamine. We saw the superlabs coming in, in bigger and stronger positions, trying to continue to move this deadly product through our communities.

What the Combat Meth Act does is provide resources to State and local Governments, law enforcement and investigative teams in shutting down labs, investigating the violent crimes, educating the public, and helping children impacted by this terrible product. In one county alone--the Presiding Officer will understand because it is a neighboring county to his State--in the city of Spokane, 90 percent of identity theft and 70 percent of burglaries are related to methamphetamine. During the bust of meth houses in Spokane County, police find children at least 50 percent of the time. This is a problem that is much more comprehensive in the impact it is having on communities than people realize.

When we have a meth house in a community, it not only impacts that particular neighborhood and community, but it impacts law enforcement who also have to come in and investigate and clean up the drug labs. We know of law enforcement officers injured from trying to fight this problem by not having the proper equipment when going into these locations.

This is a problem that is not small or isolated or one that is going to be fought and won in 1 year's battle. That is why we need to support this amendment today and continue our efforts, not just authorizing but actually appropriating the resources to fight this problem.

We must continue to be true to what we have said, that we believe this battle is worth fighting and that we are going to provide the resources to do so.

I applaud my colleague from Missouri for his leadership on this issue. I am sure the people of Missouri, as in Washington State and other places throughout the country who have this problem, know how important it is to battle this issue.

It is important we realize a comprehensive approach is showing success. In Washington, we have seen a comprehensive approach has actually educated more people and the public to understand how one use of methamphetamine can be so addicting and lead to such a devastating result, for individuals, families, communities, and to everyone impacted in its path.

I applaud my colleague from Missouri for his leadership. I am glad to join him in this bipartisan effort. I also congratulate Senator Feinstein who has made this a priority, and to our budget leader for his help in this issue.

I yield the floor.

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