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Gingrich Reveals New Agenda for Social Change, Top Priority: Drug-Free by 2001


July 1997

House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) outlined his agenda for social change on May 8, saying he wants to end drug use in America by 2001 (House Speaker Newt Gingrich speech to the National Religious Broadcasters, May 8, 1997; John Yang, "Gingrich Outlines Next Initiatives," Washington Post, May 9, 1997, p. A4; Laurie Kellman, "Gingrich outlines New agenda," Washington Times, May 9, 1997, p. A1).

Gingrich's primary goal for 2001 is a drug-free America. He called for a "national crusade fully as intensive as the effort to balance the budget," against illegal drugs. "We could wake up on January 1, 2001, and say we have virtually no drug use, or it's no higher than it was in January 1955, when it was an occasional behavior by a small group of people," he said, adding, "This would be a dramatically better country." [In 1988 Congress passed a law declaring it to be U.S. policy that America be "drug-free" by 1995. Presidents and Congress have been promising a balanced budget for four decades, and its greatest advocates gave us the greatest deficits - EES.]

Among his proposals for enacting such a crusade were mandatory life imprisonment for first offenders who cross borders with or produce drugs, and a death sentence for repeat offenders. [Query - How do you get out to commit a second offense? -- EES] These crimes, he said, "destroy our children." He added a message for drug dealers: "If you sell it, we're going to kill you." The Speaker put it bluntly, saying, "If you're dealing with a commercial quantity of drugs, first offense, life without parole, multiple offenses, death penalty, period." Commercial quantity is defined as 100 doses -- the equivalent of two ounces of marijuana. Gingrich also proposes to use Air Force reconnaissance planes to monitor drug trafficking. In addition, he proposed faith-based rehabilitation and methadone-maintenance programs.

For a copy of Gingrich's speech, contact House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 2428 RHOB, Washington, DC 20515, Tel: (202) 225-4501, Fax: (202) 225-4656, E-mail: or contact the NewsBriefs office.