U.S. Congress Considers Setting Aside $200 Million for Mexican Plan

The American congress discussed setting aside some $200 million for the Mexican Plan, which Washington hopes will aid in the fight against drugs, said a democratic legislator this Thursday.

The government of President George W. Bush asked Congress for authorization to designate $550 million to the new anti-drug plan during 2008: $500 million to Mexico and $50 million for other Central American countries.

However, legislators reviewing this actually set aside less than $300 million for Mexico, which provoked criticism from the House of Representatives.

The approval of supplemental spending for Iraq, which includes the Mexican Plan, won’t be voted on until the 15th of May, after the Senate Appropriations Committee proposes voting on the aforementioned bill, which was planned for this afternoon.

In the version which will be brought to a vote, Mexico would receive only $291.5 million of the $500 million asked for by Bush’s government, even though the original projection of $50 million for Central America was increased to $61.5 million. Legislative sources propose that the figures were adopted by those in the Senate who authored the Iraq supplemental spending bill for the 2008 fiscal year.

“To be frank, I am disappointed that Mexico would receive less than $300 million of the $500 million asked for by the government,” said Representative Eliot Engel, president of the subcommittee on Latin America in the House of Representatives, during a hearing on this topic. “I hope to work (…) to increase this number,” he added.

The funds integrate a supplementary budget that includes the financing of the American War in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though they ought to be discussed and brought to a vote in both the House and the Senate, according to a source in the legislature.

The “Mérida Initiative” in the original project included American funds totaling $400 million over 3 years. Wednesday, President Bush urged Congress to “completely” approve the financing for the plan to fight narcotics trafficking.

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