Gingrich Appoints Anti-Drug Task Force
House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) appointed a Republican Congressional anti-drug task force on March 24 saying the Clinton administration's anti-drug strategy is inadequate (Catalina Camia, "Gingrich names own anti-drug task force," Dallas Morning News, March 25, 1998).
"In the end, drugs is an American problem," Gingrich said. "If Americans weren't buying it, if our children weren't getting addicted, if we weren't providing the cash flow, we wouldn't have much drugs being developed in Colombia, Bolivia or Peru."
Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) director Barry McCaffrey said the Clinton Administration's 10-year strategy is "a realistic and doable approach which is not designed to fit into an election cycle," according to Bob Weiner, spokesperson for ONDCP. This year, the Administration plans to spend about $17.1 billion fighting drugs, including more Border Patrol agents, drug treatment programs for criminals, interdiction, and efforts aimed at preventing youth drug use (see "$17.1 Billion 1998 National Drug Control Strategy Claims Youth as Top Priority," NewsBriefs, February 1998).
"We're not trying to pick a fight with the drug czar," said Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) chairman of Gingrich's task force. "We want results. We think we can lick this problem in three years." The GOP task force has set two goals: to cut the flow of illegal drugs into the United States by 80% and their use by 40% by the year 2002.
Gingrich's proposal calls for a multidisciplinary approach over the next three years, including more money for interdiction and community-based education programs aimed at teenagers. He said the panel will rewrite existing laws or create new legislation if necessary. He added that the task force will also step up its oversight of the Clinton administration's anti-drug efforts.
[At the time of the announcement, the 1998 Congressional election was 33 weeks away. The GOP has abandoned its 1994 "pork-buster" costume for a hastily stitched "dope-buster" costume reminiscent of the one Democrats wore in 1986. -- EES]
Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich - 2428 RHOB, Washington, DC 20515, Tel: (202) 225-4501, Fax: (202) 225-4656, E-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Rep. Dennis Hastert - 2241 RHOB, Washington, DC 20515, Tel: (202) 225-2976, Fax: (202) 225-0697, E-mail: <email@example.com>.