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HOUSE PANEL SEEKS TO OVERTURN MEXICO DRUG-FIGHT CERTIFICATION

SHARE HOUSE PANEL SEEKS TO OVERTURN MEXICO DRUG-FIGHT CERTIFICATION

President Clinton's certification that Mexico is fully cooperating in the battle against drugs ran into a roadblock at a House committee that gave bipartisan support to a measure overturning his decision.

The largely symbolic resolution, passed 27-5 on Thursday by the International Relations Committee, has been scheduled by Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, for a vote by the full House next week, said spokeswoman Michele Davis.The resolution would let Clinton waive the decertification on national interest grounds, which would prevent Mexico from losing such benefits as U.S. support for its loan requests to international lending institutions like the World Bank.

But Barbara Larkin, the State Department's assistant secretary for legislative affairs, said Clinton would retain the right to waive any such sanctions without that provision.

The committee action was a rebuke of both Mexico and the Clinton administration.

"It gives Mexico's drug cooperation a failing grade, instead of the president's passing grade," said Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y., chairman of the committee. "We are also sending a message to this administration that its international narcotics control strategy is in shambles."

In Mexico, Foreign Minister Jose Angel Gurria said he expected no adverse economic impact from the action. Nevertheless, Mexican legislators were irked by the vote.

"The vote in the House committee should serve as a wake-up call to Mexicans, and we would hope that the rest of the Congress acts with prudence," said Augusto Gomez Villanueva, president of a congressional foreign relations commission.

House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., praised the committee's vote, saying, "Sweeping the drug problem under the rug won't work."