Pubdate: Fri, 03 Aug 2001
Source: Journal Gazette (IN)
Copyright: 2001 Journal Gazette
Author: Sylvia A. Smith, Washington Editor
Bookmark: (Walters, John)


Senate Democrats are holding up the appointment of a new drug czar, Rep. 
Mark Souder, R-4th, and several other House Republicans complained Thursday.

"They don't want Walters. It's really not fair," Souder said of John 
Walters, President Bush's choice to run the Office of National Drug Control 
Policy, a post often called the drug czar.

Bush sent Walters' nomination to the Senate on June 5; the Judiciary 
Committee has not held or scheduled a hearing, which is necessary before a 
nomination can be voted on by the Senate.

David Carle, spokesman for Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Pat Leahy, 
D-Vt., said there's no deliberate delay on Walters' confirmation. He said 
the panel has had a brisk schedule of nomination hearings since Democrats 
took control of the Senate and the committees reorganized.

Carle said it's "made the most sense" to conduct hearings on 
non-controversial nominees.

Walters has been criticized by both liberals and conservatives for his 
approach to drug control. He favors long prison sentences for violent 
felons, marijuana smugglers and repeat offenders. Barry McCaffrey, drug 
czar during the Clinton administration, said Walters "focuses too much on 
interdiction" and "needs to educate himself on prevention and treatment."

But Walters has worked on the prevention and treatment issues, Souder said.

He "has strong credentials and, in fact, said that's going to be his 
priority," he said.

Souder said part of the problem is "the Senate is off on things they think 
are more important than the drug war; secondly (Leahy) wanted to send a 
signal he doesn't approve of him so much; and thirdly they may be playing 
some games with the Andean initiative."

Souder said he thinks Senate Democrats may be trying to put off approval of 
Bush's drug czar until after the debate on whether to provide more money 
for drug-fighting in Colombia and other South American countries "because 
they don't want the drug czar weighing in."
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