May 22, 2008

Merida Initiative Continues to Move Forward

Press Releases 08
Merida Initiative Continues to Move Forward

Statement by Ambassador Antonio O. Garza

Mexico City, May 22, 2008 - “Today the U.S. Senate passed a supplemental budget bill that includes funding of the Merida Initiative. This is another step forward for this important program to strengthen cooperation between the United States and Mexico to fight the drug trade and organized crime that impact both our nations. However, it is still not final action.

“It is important to point out that, due to differences in the versions of the bill passed by the House and the Senate, we expect the legislative process to continue over the next several weeks before a finalized bill is sent to the President. During this process, the contents of the bill could change significantly.

“The inclusion of funding of the Merida Initiative in both the House and Senate’s bills signals Congressional support for this important measure to enhance ongoing U.S. programs for cooperating and coordinating with the Mexican government. President Bush’s support for the initiative has been unwavering. He strongly believes we must support our neighbor in the fight against organized criminal organizations that threaten citizens in both our countries.

“The version of the bill approved today by the Senate differs significantly from the version passed by the House last week, particularly as it relates to domestic spending and funding of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Due to these disparities, the House must now either vote on the Senate’s bill, or a conference committee must convene to work out new language.

“Once both legislative chambers have agreed upon a bill, it will be presented to the President for approval. I am confident that the Merida Initiative will be enacted in due course, enabling Mexico and the U.S. to build upon our already successful security cooperation and share in the fight against narcotrafficking. I again urge U.S. legislators to pass this important program.”

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