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Foreign operations spending bill includes shoot-down provisionForeign operations spending bill includes shoot-down provision

The compromise foreign operations appropriations bill (H.R.2506) that passed the House of Representatives Wednesday night and the Senate yesterday afternoon includes an AOPA-backed provision that withholds funds to support a Peruvian air interdiction program until the Bush administration sets up safeguards to protect civilian aircraft. This provision was added to the House version of the spending bill by Representative Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) after the fatal shoot-down of a civilian aircraft carrying U.S. missionaries on April 20. The spending bill will now go to the President for signature.

The language in the conference report is as follows:

(Andean Counterdrug Initiative section). "That none of the funds appropriated by this Act may be made available to support a Peruvian air interdiction program until the Secretary of State and Director of Central Intelligence certify to the Congress, 30 days before any resumption of United States involvement in a Peruvian air interdiction program, that an air interdiction program that permits the ability of the Peruvian Air Force to shoot down aircraft will include enhanced safeguards and procedures to prevent the occurrence of any incident similar to the April 20, 2001 incident."

Over the past 15 years, AOPA has lobbied against proposed changes in policy authorizing the shoot-down or force-down of civil aircraft here and abroad. After the April 20 incident, AOPA President Phil Boyer was invited to submit testimony for the record on May 1 for the House Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources subcommittee hearing on U.S. Drug Interdiction Efforts in South America. Boyer's testimony condemned the use of deadly force against civilian aircraft.

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