The House yesterday reaffirmed its opposition to U.S. trade with Cuba or Vietnam but passed at $1.7 billion foreign aid bill, which lifts "outdated restrictions" against food aid to other nations trading with Havana and Hanoi.
The House legislation also removed some restrictions on aid to Egypt, and added limitations on aid to countries violating human rights.
The vote on the amendment barring aid to trade with Cuba or Vietnam was 288 to 119. The entire foreign aid measure passed on a vote of 252 to 158.
The legislation goes to the Senate, where it conflicts with an amendment by Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.) to remove bans on U.S. export of medicine and agriculture products to Cuba. McGovern's amendment was adopted Tuesday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Rep. Clement J. Zablocki (D-Wis.), chairman of the House International Relations Committee, told members the legislation lifes "outdated restrictions against food aid to countries trading with Cuba or Vietnam" but "in no way lifts any restriction against U.S. trade or aid to Hanoi or Havana."
However the House adopted an amendment by Rep. John M. Ashbrook (R-Ohio) specifically reaffirming the bans.
"There is within the Senate a very determined effort to remove prohibitions against trade and aid to Cuba and Vietnam," Ashbrook said. "We should not sit back in the House and let the senator from South Dakota be spokesman on foreign policy."
The legislation also prohibits food aid "to countries engaged in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, unless the aid directly benefits needy people.'
Despite strong opposition from tobacco-producing states, the House adopted an amendment by Rep. James P. Johnson (R-Colo.) eliminating $24 million in tobacco exports from the program.
"This is a commodity which the federal government has warned time and again is dangerous to the health of our public," Johnson said. "It seems to me it would be a good thing to give to our enemies instead of giving it to Zaire, Pakistan, India, the Philippiness and Bangladesh."
The bill includes $1.1 billion for U.S. assistance for food development, population planning and other human resources programs. The balance is primarily for U.S. contributions for international organizations.
The House also rejected an effort to prohibit use of any of the foreign aid money for sterilization but approved by a 30-to-11 standing vote a provision that no U.S. money may be used for forced sterilization programs.
The prohibition against U.S. aid for voluntary or mandatory sterilization was proposed by Rep. Robert Young (D-Mo.) who said. "The United States has no right to sponsor and establish extreme population control methods on another nation."
Rep. Jonathan Bingham (D-N.Y.) called runaway population one of the greatest world threats and said, "One of the most effective methods of population control is voluntary sterilization and it would be a tragedy if we could not assist in such programs."
The House also cut $26 million earmarked for some United Nations programs, including the U.N. intern program.
The $1.7 billion includes $613 million to help boost food production in poor nations, $181 million for population planning assistance, $106 million for health programs, $10 million for technical assistance in energy fields, and $50 million to help the drought-stricken Sahel region of Africa.
The legislation is $142 million more than that requested by the administration and $210 million more than Congress authorized last year.