3:46 PM EDT

David Vitter, R-LA 1st

Mr. VITTER. Mr. Chairman, my amendment is very simple. It increases funding for high intensity drug trafficking areas, known as HIDTAs, by $25 million and reduces the IRS administration account by a like amount, $25 million. So it clearly is budget neutral.

Mr. Chairman, the Antidrug Abuse Act of 1988 authorized the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy to designate areas within the U.S. which exhibit serious drug trafficking problems as high intensity drug trafficking areas, HIDTAs. That designation does a few different things. Mainly, it provides additional Federal funds to facilitate cooperation between Federal, State, and local law enforcement officials to really go after in a very geared-up, coordinated way production, manufacture,

transportation, distribution, and chronic use of illegal drugs.

Since 1990, 31 areas in 40 States have been designated HIDTAs, and I really want to underscore this point for Members because the great majority of Members are directly impacted by this very successful HIDTA effort. Most Members are directly impacted by a HIDTA in their area.

As I said, HIDTAs have been very successful, enormously successful, because they coordinate Federal, local, [Page: H6643]

State law enforcement. They are an amazingly important clearinghouse. Let me give an example from my area, the Gulf Coast HIDTA. It is located in my district, and in many other districts along the Gulf Coast, last year targeted 65 drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and successfully dismantled, really dismantled, 47. Some of these

include long-standing organizations which have long been the targets of local law enforcement.

What does that mean? It means a lot for my city, my State. New Orleans reports an average decrease in crime of about 15 percent. Five of our other six major cities show a decrease in the total crime index of 1 to 14 percent. Murder rates in five other cities have declined 5 to 24 percent. National averages are 4 to 9 percent respectively.

Now, the Gulf Coast HIDTA is not the only reason. We have been doing other things locally, but it is one important reason, because of the coordination, it provides for Federal, State, and local law enforcement.

HIDTAs around the country continue to face new challenges, and we need to fund them properly and to keep up with the challenge. That is why I am afraid this budget is really inadequate. The President did not provide additional money over last year for HIDTAs, nor did this bill. I know the chairman and the ranking member want to continue to work on HIDTAs in the conference process, but I really think we really need to vote a bill out of the House that provides additional funding. So that is what

my amendment would do, $25 million.

The offset is the IRS administrative account. If we look at the IRS budget overall, the increase in this budget this year for the IRS is $231 million. So still after my amendment there would be a very significant increase in the IRS account, and we are talking about a total account of $7 billion. So certainly this is not going to do any damage to that account.

When we look at IRS activity and their track record lately, certainly we are trying to make improvements with positive reform efforts; but certainly in the last full GAO report, which is 1999, there were some very glaring problems in the IRS. In one case it took 18 months for the IRS to correct an input error, and that resulted in a wrong assessment of $160,000 against a taxpayer who was really due a refund; 4,800 employees hired to process taxes before the proper fingerprinting and other checks

were made; on and on and on, some clear problems, abuses in the IRS.

There are really two frames of mind about how to deal with that. Some people look at these gross problems and errors and want to throw more money at it. Personally, I look at these dramatic problems and say we need to show the IRS we mean business and penalize bad behavior, not reward it. But certainly in any case, even after my amendment, the IRS administrative account would get a very significant increase of $200 million, a total budget of $7 billion. Certainly, I think in that context this

shifting of $25 million from the IRS administration account to the HIDTAs, which is not getting any increase this year, which is very much on the front line of the war on drugs, is fully justified.

3:46 PM EDT

David Vitter, R-LA 1st

Mr. VITTER. Mr. Chairman, my amendment is very simple. It increases funding for high intensity drug trafficking areas, known as HIDTAs, by $25 million and reduces the IRS administration account by a like amount, $25 million. So it clearly is budget neutral.

Mr. Chairman, the Antidrug Abuse Act of 1988 authorized the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy to designate areas within the U.S. which exhibit serious drug trafficking problems as high intensity drug trafficking areas, HIDTAs. That designation does a few different things. Mainly, it provides additional Federal funds to facilitate cooperation between Federal, State, and local law enforcement officials to really go after in a very geared-up, coordinated way production, manufacture,

transportation, distribution, and chronic use of illegal drugs.

Since 1990, 31 areas in 40 States have been designated HIDTAs, and I really want to underscore this point for Members because the great majority of Members are directly impacted by this very successful HIDTA effort. Most Members are directly impacted by a HIDTA in their area.

As I said, HIDTAs have been very successful, enormously successful, because they coordinate Federal, local, [Page: H6643]

State law enforcement. They are an amazingly important clearinghouse. Let me give an example from my area, the Gulf Coast HIDTA. It is located in my district, and in many other districts along the Gulf Coast, last year targeted 65 drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and successfully dismantled, really dismantled, 47. Some of these

include long-standing organizations which have long been the targets of local law enforcement.

What does that mean? It means a lot for my city, my State. New Orleans reports an average decrease in crime of about 15 percent. Five of our other six major cities show a decrease in the total crime index of 1 to 14 percent. Murder rates in five other cities have declined 5 to 24 percent. National averages are 4 to 9 percent respectively.

Now, the Gulf Coast HIDTA is not the only reason. We have been doing other things locally, but it is one important reason, because of the coordination, it provides for Federal, State, and local law enforcement.

HIDTAs around the country continue to face new challenges, and we need to fund them properly and to keep up with the challenge. That is why I am afraid this budget is really inadequate. The President did not provide additional money over last year for HIDTAs, nor did this bill. I know the chairman and the ranking member want to continue to work on HIDTAs in the conference process, but I really think we really need to vote a bill out of the House that provides additional funding. So that is what

my amendment would do, $25 million.

The offset is the IRS administrative account. If we look at the IRS budget overall, the increase in this budget this year for the IRS is $231 million. So still after my amendment there would be a very significant increase in the IRS account, and we are talking about a total account of $7 billion. So certainly this is not going to do any damage to that account.

When we look at IRS activity and their track record lately, certainly we are trying to make improvements with positive reform efforts; but certainly in the last full GAO report, which is 1999, there were some very glaring problems in the IRS. In one case it took 18 months for the IRS to correct an input error, and that resulted in a wrong assessment of $160,000 against a taxpayer who was really due a refund; 4,800 employees hired to process taxes before the proper fingerprinting and other checks

were made; on and on and on, some clear problems, abuses in the IRS.

There are really two frames of mind about how to deal with that. Some people look at these gross problems and errors and want to throw more money at it. Personally, I look at these dramatic problems and say we need to show the IRS we mean business and penalize bad behavior, not reward it. But certainly in any case, even after my amendment, the IRS administrative account would get a very significant increase of $200 million, a total budget of $7 billion. Certainly, I think in that context this

shifting of $25 million from the IRS administration account to the HIDTAs, which is not getting any increase this year, which is very much on the front line of the war on drugs, is fully justified.

3:51 PM EDT

Jim Kolbe, R-AZ 5th

Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. VITTER) has made a very good case for the HIDTAs, a case which I concur with entirely. I happen to be a strong supporter of HIDTAs. In fact, one of the first original HIDTAs, that is High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, was designated in Arizona. I work very closely with the law enforcement officials who manage that HIDTA in Arizona. I know the value that this HIDTA provides along the southwest border in helping us to interdict drugs in

that area.

There is a need for increased funding, in my view, for the HIDTAs. The problem that I have at this moment, and the reason we do not have additional amounts, is that we have asked the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the drug czar, who has the responsibility for these funds for managing this and making the grants to the HIDTAs, to come up with some criteria for us by which we can judge HIDTAs, the need for them, new ones being created, the ones that exist, whether they need additional funding

or whether the problem has shifted and there may be some HIDTAs that actually require a reduction in funding. We do not have that criteria. We do not have a set of criteria that we can use to consider in a rational way how much additional funding is needed.

The gentleman suggested $25 million. As he describes the problem, and it is enormous, $25 million may not be adequate. What is adequate?

The other side of this amendment, of course, is taking the money out of the Internal Revenue Service. Now, the gentleman said it is huge, it is big, it is a big account; and it is. The dollar amount that he is taking out of here is also substantial. The responsibilities of the IRS that we have given them under the Reorganization Act that this Congress passed by an overwhelming majority a few years ago, the responsibilities we have given them to transform themselves and become more customer friendly,

to focus more on filers and customer relations, those responsibilities are tremendous; and they have a reorganization requirement.

They have two things. One, they need money for reorganization, and they need money for their technology modernization. This comes particularly out of the account for management processing, assistance, and management. This is where we have told them to become more customer friendly. We have already made a significant reduction in the last several years in the size of the IRS. I think it is justified, and I think the IRS needs to streamline its activities. We need to streamline the Tax Code to

make it easier to file, but this would be a reduction of approximately 500 additional employees. That would mean people would wait longer for customer assistance. It would mean they would wait longer to get their refunds, to get questions answered about their filings of their tax returns.

Is it legitimate that we should say it is more important to fight drugs than to do this? I do not have a simple answer to that. This bill attempts to address all of the requirements that we have within it in a way that meets the priorities in the best possible fashion. I said at the outset that we lacked funds to do everything that we would like in this legislation, but I think particularly at this time it would be inappropriate to take the money from this account, where Congress has acted, where

Congress has said make this reorganization, where Congress has said meet these specific missions, IRS, to take the money from this account and put it into the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, as valuable as they are, without knowing exactly how that money should be allocated, what criteria we are going to use for the drug czar to reallocate that money.

So I think it would be inappropriate for us to do that, and for that reason I must oppose the gentleman's amendment, as valuable though I think the idea of increasing HIDTA funding would be.

3:51 PM EDT

Jim Kolbe, R-AZ 5th

Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. VITTER) has made a very good case for the HIDTAs, a case which I concur with entirely. I happen to be a strong supporter of HIDTAs. In fact, one of the first original HIDTAs, that is High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, was designated in Arizona. I work very closely with the law enforcement officials who manage that HIDTA in Arizona. I know the value that this HIDTA provides along the southwest border in helping us to interdict drugs in

that area.

There is a need for increased funding, in my view, for the HIDTAs. The problem that I have at this moment, and the reason we do not have additional amounts, is that we have asked the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the drug czar, who has the responsibility for these funds for managing this and making the grants to the HIDTAs, to come up with some criteria for us by which we can judge HIDTAs, the need for them, new ones being created, the ones that exist, whether they need additional funding

or whether the problem has shifted and there may be some HIDTAs that actually require a reduction in funding. We do not have that criteria. We do not have a set of criteria that we can use to consider in a rational way how much additional funding is needed.

The gentleman suggested $25 million. As he describes the problem, and it is enormous, $25 million may not be adequate. What is adequate?

The other side of this amendment, of course, is taking the money out of the Internal Revenue Service. Now, the gentleman said it is huge, it is big, it is a big account; and it is. The dollar amount that he is taking out of here is also substantial. The responsibilities of the IRS that we have given them under the Reorganization Act that this Congress passed by an overwhelming majority a few years ago, the responsibilities we have given them to transform themselves and become more customer friendly,

to focus more on filers and customer relations, those responsibilities are tremendous; and they have a reorganization requirement.

They have two things. One, they need money for reorganization, and they need money for their technology modernization. This comes particularly out of the account for management processing, assistance, and management. This is where we have told them to become more customer friendly. We have already made a significant reduction in the last several years in the size of the IRS. I think it is justified, and I think the IRS needs to streamline its activities. We need to streamline the Tax Code to

make it easier to file, but this would be a reduction of approximately 500 additional employees. That would mean people would wait longer for customer assistance. It would mean they would wait longer to get their refunds, to get questions answered about their filings of their tax returns.

Is it legitimate that we should say it is more important to fight drugs than to do this? I do not have a simple answer to that. This bill attempts to address all of the requirements that we have within it in a way that meets the priorities in the best possible fashion. I said at the outset that we lacked funds to do everything that we would like in this legislation, but I think particularly at this time it would be inappropriate to take the money from this account, where Congress has acted, where

Congress has said make this reorganization, where Congress has said meet these specific missions, IRS, to take the money from this account and put it into the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, as valuable as they are, without knowing exactly how that money should be allocated, what criteria we are going to use for the drug czar to reallocate that money.

So I think it would be inappropriate for us to do that, and for that reason I must oppose the gentleman's amendment, as valuable though I think the idea of increasing HIDTA funding would be.

3:56 PM EDT

David Vitter, R-LA 1st

Mr. VITTER. Mr. Chairman, I certainly respect the perspective and thoughts of the gentleman about the IRS. I just want to clarify. Even under the amendment, we would increase the IRS budget over last year over $200 million, and I presume we are not going to give them 200 million more dollars and be laying off people.

3:56 PM EDT

Jim Kolbe, R-AZ 5th

Mr. KOLBE. Reclaiming my time, yes, actually we are. We are making a reduction because of the need for meeting current services, that is, the pay increases that all Federal employees will get and so forth. There actually is a reduction under our legislation, the number of people.

3:56 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, we had a very lively debate in the committee on this subject on HIDTA, and I want to commend the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. VITTER) for his amendment. I think there is a problem here. I think we have the same problem out in the State of Washington. We have a crisis in my district with these meth labs, and this is a phenomena that I know that the chairman is well aware of in California where there is the same problem. It is a phenomena that is moving kind of from the West

Coast to the East Coast. [Page: H6644]

I am deeply concerned about it. In fact, the governor of the State of Washington, myself, and the prosecuting attorney of Pierce County, Washington, held a conference in our State and brought together all the law enforcement people, including the HIDTA people, and I personally talked to General McCaffrey about this because I am deeply concerned. These meth labs are a tremendous problem. Not only is this a devastating drug that has a terrible impact on the individuals but it also creates tremendous

environmental problems, and the cleanup of these meth labs is a tremendous problem for the local communities.

I believe that the budget this year for HIDTA at $192 million or thereabouts is inadequate. Now I understand that the chairman and the ranking member have a problem with the allocation here, and they probably would like to do more in this area, because I think we in the Congress think that HIDTA is a pretty decent program; and yet we are caught with this problem of the allocation. I would just urge the chairman and the ranking member, based on the debate we had in the committee, to please take

a look at this as we go to conference, as we go through this process. If we get some additional money for this particular bill, I would certainly hope that HIDTA would be one of the areas that we would look at.

I can certainly say that this has been a very successful program in Washington State, in the Northwest, and it is a program that needs some additional funding. I realize the administration did not request additional funding for it; but in my view, based on what I have seen out there with this crisis with these meth labs, and it is going all over the Northwest, we have to do more to deal with this problem. Again, I understand the amendment of the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. VITTER) here,

and I realize that taking the money out of the IRS is a difficult problem; but somehow in the process, before it is over, we have to do something to increase funding for HIDTA.

[Time: 16:00]

3:56 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, we had a very lively debate in the committee on this subject on HIDTA, and I want to commend the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. VITTER) for his amendment. I think there is a problem here. I think we have the same problem out in the State of Washington. We have a crisis in my district with these meth labs, and this is a phenomena that I know that the chairman is well aware of in California where there is the same problem. It is a phenomena that is moving kind of from the West

Coast to the East Coast. [Page: H6644]

I am deeply concerned about it. In fact, the governor of the State of Washington, myself, and the prosecuting attorney of Pierce County, Washington, held a conference in our State and brought together all the law enforcement people, including the HIDTA people, and I personally talked to General McCaffrey about this because I am deeply concerned. These meth labs are a tremendous problem. Not only is this a devastating drug that has a terrible impact on the individuals but it also creates tremendous

environmental problems, and the cleanup of these meth labs is a tremendous problem for the local communities.

I believe that the budget this year for HIDTA at $192 million or thereabouts is inadequate. Now I understand that the chairman and the ranking member have a problem with the allocation here, and they probably would like to do more in this area, because I think we in the Congress think that HIDTA is a pretty decent program; and yet we are caught with this problem of the allocation. I would just urge the chairman and the ranking member, based on the debate we had in the committee, to please take

a look at this as we go to conference, as we go through this process. If we get some additional money for this particular bill, I would certainly hope that HIDTA would be one of the areas that we would look at.

I can certainly say that this has been a very successful program in Washington State, in the Northwest, and it is a program that needs some additional funding. I realize the administration did not request additional funding for it; but in my view, based on what I have seen out there with this crisis with these meth labs, and it is going all over the Northwest, we have to do more to deal with this problem. Again, I understand the amendment of the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. VITTER) here,

and I realize that taking the money out of the IRS is a difficult problem; but somehow in the process, before it is over, we have to do something to increase funding for HIDTA.

[Time: 16:00]

3:56 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, we had a very lively debate in the committee on this subject on HIDTA, and I want to commend the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. VITTER) for his amendment. I think there is a problem here. I think we have the same problem out in the State of Washington. We have a crisis in my district with these meth labs, and this is a phenomena that I know that the chairman is well aware of in California where there is the same problem. It is a phenomena that is moving kind of from the West

Coast to the East Coast. [Page: H6644]

I am deeply concerned about it. In fact, the governor of the State of Washington, myself, and the prosecuting attorney of Pierce County, Washington, held a conference in our State and brought together all the law enforcement people, including the HIDTA people, and I personally talked to General McCaffrey about this because I am deeply concerned. These meth labs are a tremendous problem. Not only is this a devastating drug that has a terrible impact on the individuals but it also creates tremendous

environmental problems, and the cleanup of these meth labs is a tremendous problem for the local communities.

I believe that the budget this year for HIDTA at $192 million or thereabouts is inadequate. Now I understand that the chairman and the ranking member have a problem with the allocation here, and they probably would like to do more in this area, because I think we in the Congress think that HIDTA is a pretty decent program; and yet we are caught with this problem of the allocation. I would just urge the chairman and the ranking member, based on the debate we had in the committee, to please take

a look at this as we go to conference, as we go through this process. If we get some additional money for this particular bill, I would certainly hope that HIDTA would be one of the areas that we would look at.

I can certainly say that this has been a very successful program in Washington State, in the Northwest, and it is a program that needs some additional funding. I realize the administration did not request additional funding for it; but in my view, based on what I have seen out there with this crisis with these meth labs, and it is going all over the Northwest, we have to do more to deal with this problem. Again, I understand the amendment of the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. VITTER) here,

and I realize that taking the money out of the IRS is a difficult problem; but somehow in the process, before it is over, we have to do something to increase funding for HIDTA.

[Time: 16:00]

4:04 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I have worked on HIDTA since we created the HIDTAs back in the 1980s. I am a very enthusiastic supporter of HIDTAs. For those of my colleagues who may not be specifically knowledgeable of HIDTA, HIDTA is a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. We adopted the premise of HIDTAs in the drug reform bill in which we adopted the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the director, who is affectionately referred to as the Drug Czar. We did so in an effort to ensure that we had coordination

not only among Federal agencies in fighting the drug problem and securing our communities from the scourge of drugs, but we did so for the purposes of ensuring that we had coordination of our assets that are deployed by the Federal, State and local governments. In fact, in my opinion, the biggest benefit

in HIDTA is not the money, although the money is important, and it funds the intelligence effort that all levels can access so in that respect, it is critically important. But its greatest contribution, in my opinion, is the coordination between Federal, State and local law enforcement that it has brought.

Mr. Chairman, it needs more money. Very frankly, I could support a sum greater than the gentleman from Louisiana offers in his amendment for adding to HIDTA.

The fact of the matter is, however, we deal in a world of alternatives. Once one votes for a budget that, in my opinion, underfunds our ability to respond to the needs of our country, one is constricted in terms of what one can spend. Now, the fact of the matter is, in this bill, the chairman has funded the law enforcement component of this bill almost exactly at the President's request. He has done so with the recognition that we need to support law enforcement efforts to make sure our communities

are safe.

Now, I have not looked at the HIDTA problems in Louisiana, and I have been to Washington State with the gentleman from Washington (Mr. DICKS) and with Mr. BRIAN BAIRD. I have talked with his law enforcement officials, have talked to them about the success of their existing HIDTA and the need to expand HIDTAs along the Route 5 corridor, U.S. Route 5 from Canada down to San Diego, which is obviously a major population area, and a major area of meth labs and other illegal drug activity.

So the gentleman from Washington State (Mr. DICKS) is absolutely correct, [Page: H6645]

Mr. BAIRD is correct, and the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. VITTER) is correct. We need more resources.

Now, having said that, it is not enough to say we need more resources. We need to say, where do we get those resources? I think we have sufficient resources, but if we combine the tax cuts and therefore adopt a budget substantially under the President's request, we have to squeeze somewhere. So where did the chairman squeeze? He squeezed, because he was required to, very hard on IRS.

Now, it is very easy to say, well, we will cut IRS. Who here thinks IRS is a popular agency? Well, nobody raised their hand, got up and screamed and who will, so I presume the answer is really nobody. The fact of the matter is, though, we will not fund one HIDTA without the IRS. We will not fund one member of the Armed Forces without IRS. We will not fund an FBI agent without the IRS. That is to say, it is the agency that we have charged with the responsibility of collecting sums from all of

us to fund services that we authorize and appropriate for.

The gentleman is correct, as the chairman has pointed out. The IRS has a large sum of money, because it is a large agency. I will tell my friend, though, from Louisiana, he has come relatively recently to the Congress, that the IRS is 17,000 people less than it was 6 years ago. At the same time, we have enacted the Reform and Restructuring Act which said that the IRS needed to do more services and be more friendly to our customers. That was the right thing for us to do. We want the telephone

answered more quickly, we want taxpayers' questions answered accurately; and when they have problems, we want them served appropriately. All of us support those objectives.

4:04 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I have worked on HIDTA since we created the HIDTAs back in the 1980s. I am a very enthusiastic supporter of HIDTAs. For those of my colleagues who may not be specifically knowledgeable of HIDTA, HIDTA is a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. We adopted the premise of HIDTAs in the drug reform bill in which we adopted the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the director, who is affectionately referred to as the Drug Czar. We did so in an effort to ensure that we had coordination

not only among Federal agencies in fighting the drug problem and securing our communities from the scourge of drugs, but we did so for the purposes of ensuring that we had coordination of our assets that are deployed by the Federal, State and local governments. In fact, in my opinion, the biggest benefit

in HIDTA is not the money, although the money is important, and it funds the intelligence effort that all levels can access so in that respect, it is critically important. But its greatest contribution, in my opinion, is the coordination between Federal, State and local law enforcement that it has brought.

Mr. Chairman, it needs more money. Very frankly, I could support a sum greater than the gentleman from Louisiana offers in his amendment for adding to HIDTA.

The fact of the matter is, however, we deal in a world of alternatives. Once one votes for a budget that, in my opinion, underfunds our ability to respond to the needs of our country, one is constricted in terms of what one can spend. Now, the fact of the matter is, in this bill, the chairman has funded the law enforcement component of this bill almost exactly at the President's request. He has done so with the recognition that we need to support law enforcement efforts to make sure our communities

are safe.

Now, I have not looked at the HIDTA problems in Louisiana, and I have been to Washington State with the gentleman from Washington (Mr. DICKS) and with Mr. BRIAN BAIRD. I have talked with his law enforcement officials, have talked to them about the success of their existing HIDTA and the need to expand HIDTAs along the Route 5 corridor, U.S. Route 5 from Canada down to San Diego, which is obviously a major population area, and a major area of meth labs and other illegal drug activity.

So the gentleman from Washington State (Mr. DICKS) is absolutely correct, [Page: H6645]

Mr. BAIRD is correct, and the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. VITTER) is correct. We need more resources.

Now, having said that, it is not enough to say we need more resources. We need to say, where do we get those resources? I think we have sufficient resources, but if we combine the tax cuts and therefore adopt a budget substantially under the President's request, we have to squeeze somewhere. So where did the chairman squeeze? He squeezed, because he was required to, very hard on IRS.

Now, it is very easy to say, well, we will cut IRS. Who here thinks IRS is a popular agency? Well, nobody raised their hand, got up and screamed and who will, so I presume the answer is really nobody. The fact of the matter is, though, we will not fund one HIDTA without the IRS. We will not fund one member of the Armed Forces without IRS. We will not fund an FBI agent without the IRS. That is to say, it is the agency that we have charged with the responsibility of collecting sums from all of

us to fund services that we authorize and appropriate for.

The gentleman is correct, as the chairman has pointed out. The IRS has a large sum of money, because it is a large agency. I will tell my friend, though, from Louisiana, he has come relatively recently to the Congress, that the IRS is 17,000 people less than it was 6 years ago. At the same time, we have enacted the Reform and Restructuring Act which said that the IRS needed to do more services and be more friendly to our customers. That was the right thing for us to do. We want the telephone

answered more quickly, we want taxpayers' questions answered accurately; and when they have problems, we want them served appropriately. All of us support those objectives.

4:04 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I have worked on HIDTA since we created the HIDTAs back in the 1980s. I am a very enthusiastic supporter of HIDTAs. For those of my colleagues who may not be specifically knowledgeable of HIDTA, HIDTA is a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. We adopted the premise of HIDTAs in the drug reform bill in which we adopted the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the director, who is affectionately referred to as the Drug Czar. We did so in an effort to ensure that we had coordination

not only among Federal agencies in fighting the drug problem and securing our communities from the scourge of drugs, but we did so for the purposes of ensuring that we had coordination of our assets that are deployed by the Federal, State and local governments. In fact, in my opinion, the biggest benefit

in HIDTA is not the money, although the money is important, and it funds the intelligence effort that all levels can access so in that respect, it is critically important. But its greatest contribution, in my opinion, is the coordination between Federal, State and local law enforcement that it has brought.

Mr. Chairman, it needs more money. Very frankly, I could support a sum greater than the gentleman from Louisiana offers in his amendment for adding to HIDTA.

The fact of the matter is, however, we deal in a world of alternatives. Once one votes for a budget that, in my opinion, underfunds our ability to respond to the needs of our country, one is constricted in terms of what one can spend. Now, the fact of the matter is, in this bill, the chairman has funded the law enforcement component of this bill almost exactly at the President's request. He has done so with the recognition that we need to support law enforcement efforts to make sure our communities

are safe.

Now, I have not looked at the HIDTA problems in Louisiana, and I have been to Washington State with the gentleman from Washington (Mr. DICKS) and with Mr. BRIAN BAIRD. I have talked with his law enforcement officials, have talked to them about the success of their existing HIDTA and the need to expand HIDTAs along the Route 5 corridor, U.S. Route 5 from Canada down to San Diego, which is obviously a major population area, and a major area of meth labs and other illegal drug activity.

So the gentleman from Washington State (Mr. DICKS) is absolutely correct, [Page: H6645]

Mr. BAIRD is correct, and the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. VITTER) is correct. We need more resources.

Now, having said that, it is not enough to say we need more resources. We need to say, where do we get those resources? I think we have sufficient resources, but if we combine the tax cuts and therefore adopt a budget substantially under the President's request, we have to squeeze somewhere. So where did the chairman squeeze? He squeezed, because he was required to, very hard on IRS.

Now, it is very easy to say, well, we will cut IRS. Who here thinks IRS is a popular agency? Well, nobody raised their hand, got up and screamed and who will, so I presume the answer is really nobody. The fact of the matter is, though, we will not fund one HIDTA without the IRS. We will not fund one member of the Armed Forces without IRS. We will not fund an FBI agent without the IRS. That is to say, it is the agency that we have charged with the responsibility of collecting sums from all of

us to fund services that we authorize and appropriate for.

The gentleman is correct, as the chairman has pointed out. The IRS has a large sum of money, because it is a large agency. I will tell my friend, though, from Louisiana, he has come relatively recently to the Congress, that the IRS is 17,000 people less than it was 6 years ago. At the same time, we have enacted the Reform and Restructuring Act which said that the IRS needed to do more services and be more friendly to our customers. That was the right thing for us to do. We want the telephone

answered more quickly, we want taxpayers' questions answered accurately; and when they have problems, we want them served appropriately. All of us support those objectives.