|TRAFICANT, James A., Jr.,|
WEDNESDAY, MAY 20, 1998
Washington, D.C. – U. S. Rep. James A. Traficant, Jr. (D–OH) will offer five amendments to the defense bill being debated today by the House, including a measure to authorize the deployment of U.S. troops to assist law enforcement in patrolling U.S. borders. "Our current policy on the border has failed," said Traficant. "Heroin, cocaine, narco-terrorists and illegal aliens continue to pour over the border. It's time to adopt a program that will stem the tide and protect our national security."
The House is considering legislation authorizing $270.4 billion in fiscal year 1999 for defense programs. Traficant intends to offer an amendment to the bill which authorizes the Department of Defense to assign U.S. troops to assist federal law enforcement in monitoring and patrolling U.S. borders, and in inspecting cargo, vehicles and aircraft at points of entry into the U.S. Under the Traficant amendment, such assistance could be provided only at the express request of the U.S. Attorney General or the Secretary of the Treasury. The Immigration and Naturalization Service and Border Patrol are part of the Justice Department. The U.S. Customs Services is part of the Treasury Department.
The Traficant amendment mandates that any troops deployed to U.S. borders receive special law enforcement training. In addition, the amendment requires any U.S. troops patrolling U.S. borders to be accompanied by federal law enforcement agent. The troops would not have the authority to make any arrests. The amendment also requires the federal government to notify the appropriate state and local government officials of any deployment of U.S. troops. Last year, the House approved a similar amendment to the defense bill authored by Traficant. That amendment, however, was dropped from the bill in conference with the Senate.
"In 1997, the U.S. Border Patrol seized $1.46 billion worth of
illegal drugs between points of entry, the bulk of it at the southwest
border," noted Traficant. "Federal agencies are complaining of being
outmatched in both manpower and firepower by the drug lords.
Since the Reagan Administration, the military has assisted federal law enforcement in fighting the war on drugs. My amendment simply authorizes -- it does not mandate -- the expansion of this role under strict parameters," added Traficant.
Traficant pointed to a Congressionally-mandated report issued last year by the National Defense Panel which noted, in part, that "the apparent ease of infiltration of our borders by drug smugglers, illegal immigrants, and contraband goods illustrates a potentially significant problem. It suggests that terrorist cells armed with nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons could also infiltrate with little difficulty."
Traficant asserted that "unless Congress is willing to come up with the money to pay for the 25,000 Border Patrol agents the President's own drug czar says are necessary to control the border, we need to look at alternatives. If the U.S. military can build homes and vaccinate dogs in Haiti, the U.S. military can, and should, help patrol our borders," concluded Traficant.
In addition to his "troops on the border" amendment, Traficant will offer four other amendments to the defense bill. They will:
Require that an annual report by the Department of Defense on its compliance with the Buy American Act be submitted to Congress in 60 days, rather than 90 days, as required under current law.
Earmark $6.5 million from the Air Force's procurement budget for the purchase of laser visual glide scope indicators and laser centerline localizers for aircraft approach and landing. Laser guidance systems for runways have been successfully employed by the U.S. Navy and Marines, as well as the U.S. Park Police and some commercial airports. Traficant has introduced legislation requiring commercial airports to replace conventional landing light systems with enhanced vision technologies, such as lasers, over the next ten years.
Transfer ownership of the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve facility in Youngstown, Ohio to the city of Youngstown.
Require that flags provided by the Veterans Affairs Department for use at U.S. veteran burials be wholly-produced in the United States.
The above four amendments are expected to be approved by the House as part of an en bloc amendment. There will be a scheduled debate on the Traficant "troops on the border" amendment later today.2009