IN THE CHAOTIC closing days of the congressional session, a $600 billion appropriation bill was put together and passed. When so many government programs are considered together, and so much money is lumped into one spending bill, the potential for sneaky deals is magnified. Money requests that would have been laughed out of the committee room, pet projects that would never have withstood any kind of scrutiny and home-state favors that would have been quickly rejected if they had been put to a separate vote are rolled into a behemoth of a bill with the hope that they will be noticed -- and remembered -- only by the beneficiaries. Unfortunately, this happens regularly. But this year's prize for the most outrageous special-interest pay-out goes to the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign aid, Sen. Daniel Inouye.
The senator from Hawaii managed to slip into the reconciliation bill an appropriation for the construction of Jewish schools for the benefit of North Africans resident in Paris. You may wonder what business this is of the U.S. foreign aid program, but Sen. Inouye's colleagues didn't need any explanation. "Dan wanted it," they say. The money is to be funneled through an American organization, Ozar Hatorah, and you will not be surprised to learn that one of Sen. Inouye's largest campaign contributors is on the board.
The grant is objectionable on a number of grounds. Why should U.S. taxpayers subsidizethe education of children in a wealthy countrylike France? Why was this amendment offered under the guise of refugee assistance whenno one -- not the U.S. government, the French government or the U.N. High Commission -- considers North Africans long resident in Franceto be refugees? And why should an expenditureof public funds for religious instruction -- which would be flatly unconstitutional at home -- be acceptable abroad? When he returns from Hawaii, Sen. Inouye will owe the public an explanation.