Uganda was erroneously included in a list of Communist-dominated countries the House voted to aid Uganda, ruled by Idi Amin, to exclude from U.S. multilateral is not Communist-dominated.
The House yesterday passed a badly battered $6.7 billion foreign aid appropriations bill 208 to 174, which President Carter said "severely restricts" his ability to "promote American interests around the world."
Carter's press secretary, Jody Powell, said the President did not say anything about vetoing the bill, but added that Carter could not have expressed his objections "in stronger terms."
The House seemed undeterred, however. Late yesterday, before passing the bill, it voted 214 to 168 for a 5 per cent across-the-board cut in total foreign aid spending. Rep. Clarence E. Miller (R-Ohio), who offered the amendment, said no individual aid program could be cut more than 10 per cent, and salaries or other payments required by law could not be cut.
Miller said the cut would amount to some $373 million. Combined with $552 million the Appropriations Committee had already cut, the 5 per cent put the bill almost $1 billion below what the administration had requested.
Carter was objecting to amendments the House passed earlier preventing international banks and lending institutions from using money contributed by the United States to give aid to seven Communist-dominated countries. The seven are Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Cuba, Uganda, Mozambique and Angola (not Ethiopia, as The Washington Post incorrectly reported Thursday.)
Powell said the House action, "if sustained, will damage the ability of this country to pursue our national interests by peaceful means," and "could lead to politicalization of traditionally non-political institutions" and invite "other countries to take similar actions and attach political conditions to their contributions."
Carter, in a letter to House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) earlier in the week, had strongly urged the House to resist cutting the contributions to international banks, and not to restrict the aid which he said could jeopardize U.S. participation the lending programs.
A House committee staffer said the charters of most of the banks either prohibit earmarking of funds by countries making contributions or else require that any loans the institutions make be made on a pro-rata basis from all the countries who contribute.
Powell said lawyers were studying the effect of the House action on the banks. U.S. contributions in the bills to six banks giving multilateral aid amounts to about $2 billion a year.
O'Neill said yesterday the President was "unhappy" with what O'Neill called "hand-tying amendments the Republicans are offering."
"It's pure demogoguery in most cases," O'Neill said. When pressed, O'Neill admitted that large numbers of Democrats were voting for the amendments. "They're wrong, but they have public appeal. There's a strong feeling that we're turning over to foreign banks authority over how to handle U.S. money."
Democratic Whip John Brademas criticized the administration for not doing "more missionary work" in selling its position to House members, but also said younger House members "who come from districts that are shaky" don't want to risk voter wrath at votes for foreign aid, particularly to Communist-dominated countries.
Carter won some victories on the House floor yesterday as an attempt to reduce funds by $477 million for the International Development Association was defeated, 233 to 175.
Powell said Carter was pleased by this action in turning back an attempt to further reduce U.S. loans to the poorest nations of the world. The Appropriations Committee had already cut some $225 million from the administration request for the U.S. contribution to IDA, and had appropriated only $950 million.
Majority Leader Jim Wright (D-Tex.) said the additional cut would amount to a 60 per cent cut from what the administration asked and "would cut the legs out from under" the bill.
Carter also won victories when the House restored to the bill some $3.1 million in military aid for Nicaragua which the Appropriations Committee had cut, and refused to reduce South Korean military aid by $45 million.
In both cases, the arguments were based on the volatile "human rights" issue.