The Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday approved a foreign aid bill that sharply increases assistance for Israel, gives less to El Salvador than the administration wanted, and trims the aid request for Zaire.
It brings authorizations of economic and military aid for fiscal 1983 to $10.7 billion, about $300 million less than the administration requested.
It will face a battery of controversial amendments on the Senate floor, probably including ones to restore money for El Salvador and to trim spending for other countries as senators seek economies in an election year.
Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-Kan.) was the only committee member to vote against the measure, serving notice that she will seek cuts from the full Senate because, she said, "I am so worried about our own economy."
A House version is expected to come to the floor soon. Although its spending totals are approximately the same as the Senate's, it contains the administration's full request of $166.3 million for El Salvador. Efforts will be made to cut it back because the Salvadoran government has suspended part of its land reform program.
Always unpopular in an election year when the U.S. economy is in poor shape, foreign aid this year will be particularly hard to pass.
The Senate committee yesterday cut in half the administration's $20 million request for military aid to Zaire because of members' disapproval of the regime of President Mobutu Sese Seko. Sen. Paul E. Tsongas (D-Mass.) called Zaire "a classic example of corruption."
The committee passed an amendment requiring improved notification of Congress when the executive branch changes export licensing regulations. It was unhappy with the administration's sudden change of rules that permitted sales of aircraft to Iraq by removing that country from the list of nations abetting terrorism.
The committee's authorization includes an increase of $300 million in military assistance outlays for Israel over the $550 million the administration wanted.
It also includes an extra $125 million in economic support funds for Israel to help it repay the U.S. for military purchases.
On Wednesday, the committee cut $100 million out of the administration's request for aid to El Salvador, citing reports that the land reform program there had been suspended in part.