A bill authorizing new U.S. contributions to international development banks got caught in a squeeze in the House yesterday between the new congressional frenzy to balance the budget and longstanding hostility to foreign aid.
The bill finally was passed, 219 to 166, and sent to the Senate. But what had started the day as an authorization of $4 billion in cash outlays and loan guarantees over four years to three regional lending institutions ended up cut back by nearly $1.5 billion.
Chief beneficiary of the bill would be the Inter-American Development Bank, which makes loans to help develop the economy of Latin American nations. A Republican amendment to cut $1.2 billion from the $3.4 billion for this bank was approved by a vote of 219 to 170. It would mean a reduction in the cash outlay the United States could put up by at least $186 million.
The House also made a 60 percent cut in the proposed contribution to the Asian Developemnt Bank -- from $445 million to $180 million -- by a vote of 210 to 189. Sponsors of the amendment said it would put pressure on OPEC nations, which make no contribution to the bank, to do so.
No attempt was made to cut the $125 million authorization for the African Development Fund. The funds cannot be released until approved again by Congress in an appropriations bill.
Adopted by voice vote was an amendment that would withhold the U.S. contribution to the Asian Bank if Taiwan were excluded from it.
But the House did not succeed, as it often has, in attaching strings to use of U.S. funds once they have gone to the banks. This has been a headache for the World Bank and others that cannot accept funds with strings. A House attempt to tell the World Bank not to use any U.S. funds to make loans to Vietnam held up the foreign aid bill last year until the bank sent a letter saying it had no plans to.
An attempt to say no U.S. funds could be used by the Inter-American Bank to help Cuba was sidetracked with adoption of a substitute saying U.S. funds could not be used to make a loan to any nation not a member of the bank.
Defeated by a 189-to-197 vote was an amendment that would have withheld 10 percent of U.S. contributions from international banks that pay their employes salaries 10 percent higher than the average pay of U.S. civil servants.