The House yesterday sent a foreign aid bill back to conference with instructions to cut funds, and Democratic leaders then pulled the Nicaraguan aid bill off the schedule for fear of being beaten twice in one day.
The bill sent back to a House-Senate conference by a vote of 211 to 180 would have ratified an international agreement under which the United States agreed to put up $4 billion in cash or loan guarantees as its share of additional capital for three international development banks making loans to nations in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
The Senate has approved the full authorization, but the House, it usual hostility to foreign aid sharpened by a desire to balance the budget, cut out $1.5 billion, most of it from the Inter-American Bank. The House conferees agreed to restore all the money on grounds that if the figure were cut the international agreement would have to be renegotiated. They pointed this out on the floor and said only $7 million in U.S. money would have been paid out in the next year.
But opponents contended the House conferees had sold out the House position without even trying to uphold it. (In fact, the conferees had to meet twice because at their first meeting the House conferees accepted the Senate bill before they had been appointed). The vote of instructions is not binding, but is a pretty clear indication that the House will not approve the full amount.
The House had planned after voting on the development bank conference report to take up a resolution sending to conference a bill authorizing $75 million in special economic aid to help Nicaragua recover from devastation of civil war. But after the bank defeat, Majority Leader Jim Wright (D-Tex.) made no mention of the controversial Nicaragua bill when asked about the schedule for the rest of the day.
What happened to Nicaragua? asked Rep. Robert Bauman (R-Md.), a leading opponent of both bills.
"The leadership doesn't like to get rolled twice in a row," replied Wright.
Bauman and others contend that Nicaragua has gone communist and that the aid would be money wasted. The administration wants to provide aid to help prevent the country from going communist.