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Congress battles over funds to fight border drug violence

May 14, 2008 |  3:49 pm

House Republicans tried today to stop millions of dollars from going to Mexico to fight drug-related violence along its border with the U.S.

The move came during committee work on a bill to fund the Merida Initiative, a plan President Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon forged to fight drug violence in Latin America.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Valley Village), would authorize $1.6 billion in spending over three years. The administration had asked that Mexico get $500 million.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) tried to block the aid to Mexico until Bush could certify that no Mexican army or police personnel were involved in drug trafficking and that the border was secure. Tancredo's amendment failed 23 to 10, but the fight's not over.

Republicans led by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon) are appealing directly to Bush to withdraw his funding request.

"Mexico remains the chief foreign supplier of marijuana to the United States and continues to supply the majority of methamphetamines, heroin and cocaine that enters our country," they wrote in a May 8 letter to the president.

Posted by Nicole Gaouette in Washington