US Legislative Committee Approves Funding for the Fight Against Drugs in Mexico
By Dialogo May 11, 2009Today the Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives firmly approved a bill for additional costs for the current fiscal year, including US$470 million for the fight against drug trafficking in Mexico. The funds will be used to purchase surveillance aircraft, helicopters, and other resources, and represents an increase of about $120 million over the amount requested by the White House. During the debate on the measure, most of the Democrats insisted on the urgency of continued support for the Mexican government’s antinarcotics efforts, to prevent the spread of violence caused by drug cartels across the border to the US. Funds for Mexico in this bill will contribute to the purchase of three surveillance aircraft and four additional "Blackhawk" helicopters. United States approves funds for the fight against drug trafficking in Mexico The White House had requested a total of $350 million for Mexico and the southwest border, $66 million of which was for the purchase of three "Blackhawk" helicopters that were eliminated from the 2009 Merida Initiative budget. However, during a negotiation process legislators increased aid for Mexico and border surveillance to the new sum of $470 million. The bill for additional costs for the fiscal year 2009, which ends on September 30, total $94,200 million, or $9,300 million more than requested by the White House. The initiative, which must be voted on in a plenary session of the House of Representatives and the Senate, also includes costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and help to stabilize Pakistan. The bill "reflects the intention of President Barack Obama to gradually end the war in Iraq, strengthen efforts in Afghanistan, and stabilize Pakistan," said the Committee Chairman David Obey. In total, the bill to be voted on by the full House next week authorizes $78,400 million for the Pentagon, or $4,700 million U.S. dollars more than the White House asked for. Other factors include financial assistance for the Middle East, and Africa; tackling the global financial crisis; and supporting the efforts of the international community to "identify, contain, and curb the spread of a pandemic."