Pubdate: Mon, 01 Mar 1999
Source: Associated Press
Copyright: 1999 Associated Press
Author: Tom Raum,  Associated Press Writer


WASHINGTON - Congress seems unlikely to undo President Clinton's
certification of Mexico as a cooperative ally in the war on drugs,
despite some  sharp criticism of the decision and a House promise to
make a "thorough review."

While several lawmakers indicated they would introduce a resolution to
overturn the certification, leadership aides said Monday it seemed
doubtful the measure could win a majority in both chambers   let alone
the two-thirds needed  to override a presidential veto. A similar
effort failed last year.

Congress has 30 days, until April 1, to act.

"Clearly there are not the votes to succeed with a challenge, and
having a divisive battle on the floor makes no sense," said Sen.
Dianne Feinstein, D- Calif., a leader in the 1998 effort.

Required by Congress since 1986, the annual review has served as a way
for the U.S. government to bring pressure to bear on foreign
governments to crack down on the drug trade.

But it has also generated criticism on Capitol Hill from members who
noted that most hard drugs coming into the United States come from
Mexico and Colombia. Colombia was also recertified by Clinton, but
that decision was less controversial.

In its annual review of 28 countries that produce or serve as a
conduit for illegal drugs, the Clinton administration cited only two
countries Burma and  Afghanistan   for not fully cooperating in
counter-narcotics efforts. By law,  countries found not to be fully
cooperative can be subject to economic sanctions.

Both House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Senate Majority Leader
Trent Lott, R-Miss., have hinted they don't plan to make a major
effort to block the certification.

Some of the strongest opposition is coming from influential House

House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., said, "Mexico has not done
enough to meet the requirements of our law."

And Rep. John L. Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the Government Reform
subcommittee on counter-narcotics, accused the administration of a

"In terms of cooperation, we get a big fat zero from Mexico on
specifics," he said.

Mica has scheduled a Thursday meeting by his subcommittee to consider
the issue.

"The speaker has asked us to do a thorough review," Mica said, adding
he did not think the speaker was "closed to decertification."
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