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Border Troops Measure Fails to Pass U.S. Senate


November-December 1997

Rep. Jim Traficant's (D-OH) proposed amendment to the FY 1998 Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 1119), which would have assigned 10,000 U.S. soldiers to the U.S./Mexico border in order to combat drug trafficking, has failed to pass due to lack of support from the Senate (see "U.S. House Again Votes to Put 10,000 Anti-Drug Troops on U.S.-Mexico Border," NewsBriefs, Sept.-Oct. 1997; "Border Patrol," USA Today, October 28, 1997, p. 10A; Richard A. Serrano, "Plan dies to use military to battle drugs on Southwest's border," Los Angles Times (Washington Edition), October 29, 1997, p. A8; "A job for the border patrol," Los Angles Times (Washington Edition), October 30, 1997, p. A10; "Thumbs up, thumbs down," The Dallas Morning News, October 31, 1997).

Critics of the proposal said that it would set a dangerous precedent in the division of responsibility between law enforcement officials and the Pentagon. "Drug czar" Barry McCaffrey said, "It is not clear to me that this mission is any longer necessarily required." U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Phil Gramm (R-TX) have pressed for more and better trained border agents, saying that the job is for the U.S. Border Patrol, not the military. Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), a former Border Patrol supervisor said, "Border Patrol agents are trained to understand the terrain and the inhabitants of the area they are patrolling. ... Military training promotes a more confrontational approach under generally hostile environments. So, clearly, the military is not properly suited for patrolling border areas."

U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant - 2446 RHOB, Washington, D.C. 20515, Tel: (202) 225-5261, Fax: (202) 225-3719, E-mail:

U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes - 514 CHOB, Washington, D.C. 50515, Tel: (202) 225-4831, Fax: (202) 225-2016.

U.S. Senator Phil Gramm - SR-370, Washington, D.C. 20510, Tel: (202) 224-2934, Fax: (202) 228-2856.

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison: SR-283, Washington, D.C. 20510, Tel: (202) 224-5922, Fax: (202) 224-0776, E-mail