By a vote of 237 for and 177 against, the House adopted an amendment requiring Presidents to use whatever military might is needed to substantially halt the illegal flow of drugs into the United States. This would mark the first diversion of the armed services from their military mission to the war on drugs. Presidents would deploy air, sea and land forces against drug smugglers in coastal and border areas.
The amendment was attached to a multi-pronged legislative attack on America's growing drug problem, a measure that will cost more than $1.5 billion in fiscal 1987 and upwards of $3 billion over the next three years.
The bill (HR 5484) was sent to the Senate, where liberals are threatening to filibuster some of its provisions.
Critics of the amendment included liberals who said it is dangerous for the armed services to become involved in civilian law enforcement, and conservatives who said the Pentagon has enough to do already.
While the bill provides special funding to prevent drug abuse, its emphasis is on enforcement. It toughens laws against drug traffickers, provides money for more prison space, upgrades government interdiction activity and penalizes countries that fail to curb drug exports to America.