WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is proposing to keep military counter-drug aid to Colombia almost unchanged in the next fiscal year despite calls by some members of Congress to spend more on social programs, according to its budget request released Monday.
Bush is asking Congress to allot $550 million to combat drugs in Colombia in fiscal 2006, with the military and police receiving more than $393 million -- about $10 million less than in fiscal 2005, a State Department official said.
Latin America analysts awaited the administration's request with interest, because Plan Colombia, the broad counter-drug program under which Washington has pumped more than $3 billion into Colombia since 2000, is due to expire Sept. 30.
In August 2004, House members on appropriations panels recommended reducing money for Plan Colombia and for other Andean nations. In 2002 Plan Colombia was folded into the Andean Counterdrug Initiative, which covers the whole region.
Bush proposed $735 million for the Andean Counterdrug Initiative in fiscal 2006, $4 million more than 2005. Unlike Plan Colombia, the Andean Counterdrug Initiative has no expiration date.