The House voted $207.3 million yesterday to help "boat people" and other Indochinese refugees settle in the United States.
The action amounted to a rare increase in a $7.9 billion foreign aid appropriations bill, which generally underwent cuts in funding for programs and U.S. contributions to multilateral lending institutions.
The $207.3 million increase would be used for the added costs of raising the U.S. quota for Indochinese refugees from 7,000 per month to 14,000 per month, for rescuing the boat people at sea, and for providing funds for the U.S. share of international refugee processing costs and caring for refugees in camps.
The proposal encountered little opposition and passed by a voice vote.
At the same time, the House voted to prohibit indirect aid to Vietnam, along with Angola, the Central African Empire, Cambodia and Laos, all Communist or dictator-dominated countries. The amendment passed by a vote of 281 to 117 as its sponsor, Rep. C. W. Young (R-Fla.), argued that Vietnam's treatment of its people was a good reason to prohibit U.S. aid.
The House has voted against indirect aid before, but in the past a deal has been cut between President Carter and Congress that removed the prohibition, for a promise that all U.S. board members of the lending institutions would vote against indirect aid. The problem has been that the charters of the banks prohibit allowing one country to dictate, how its money will or will not be spent on political grounds. The agreement between Carter and Congress has gotten around that prohibition, but what will happen this year is not yet clear in view of Vietnam's role in Cambodia and Laos, and the refugee situation.
Generally yesterday there was a continuation of cuts in aid that began on July 18 and 19, when the House first considered the bill. In July the House voted to cut a total of $172.5 million from four multilateral lending institutions. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development took the heaviest cut of $144.9 million, leaving an appropriation of $163.1 million.
The House also voted to cut military and economic aid to Panama except for food and medical supplies. A similar cut had been made in a foreign aid authorization bill, on the grounds that Panama will receive increased revenues from the transfer of the Panama Canal and its tolls beginning Oct. 1.
This vote was 247 to 128.
By a 234 to 139 vote the House cut $3.9 million from the U.N. Development program, leaving $126 million in funding.
But an effort to delete $23.7 million in funding for a new Institute of Scientific and Technological Cooperation, designed to help Third World countries catch up in technology, failed by a 234 to 166 vote.
The original $7.9 billion of funding in the bill for military and economic foreign aid was $1.2 billion lower than the administration requested, and $434.3 million above the fiscal 1979 appropriation.
The House adjourned last night without finishing the aid bill.Final action is expected today.