Because of incorrect information provided by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, an article yesterday reported that a foreign aid conference committee had agreed to prohibit nonemergency economic aid to Mozambique until the government there reduces the number of foreign military advisers and troops to no more than 55. The conference rejected that restriction.
House and Senate negotiators agreed yesterday to renew aid to Nicaraguan rebels, but prohibited direct involvement by the Central Intelligence Agency or the Defense Department in handling those funds.
The agreement to provide $27 million in nonmilitary assistance through March 31 makes it all but certain that aid will begin flowing to the rebels again, possibly this summer.
The arrangement, worked out in separate conferences on the 1986 foreign aid measure and on a supplemental spending bill for the rest of the 1985 fiscal year, still must be ratified by the House and Senate and signed by President Reagan. But negotiators said yesterday they anticipate little trouble.
Congress cut off aid to the CIA-trained rebel forces, known as contras, in October at the insistence of the Democratic-controlled House. In June, upset by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's visit to Moscow, the House reversed itself and approved a bipartisan proposal providing $27 million in nonmilitary aid but prohibiting CIA and Pentagon involvement.
The Republican-led Senate has consistently supported the contras. In June it voted to give them $38 million in nonmilitary aid and allowed the CIA to handle the program. The assistance could be used for purposes broader than the House measure allowed.
Early yesterday morning, Senate conferees working on the $12.7 billion foreign aid bill yielded to the House position. And yesterday afternoon, their Senate colleagues finishing work on the $14 million supplemental bill did likewise, when it became clear that House conferees would not budge.
In both instances, the Nicaragua issue was the final stumbling block to conference agreement.
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), the chief Senate negotiator in the supplemental conference, said he caved in to the House position to avoid jeopardizing gains made in the House on the Nicaragua issue. In that event, he said, "I could face worse positions than the House position in this bill."
In addition, he said, he did not want to further delay final action on the bill, which provides supplemental funding for a host of government programs, from Social Security to emergency economic aid to Israel and Egypt.
According to aides, Senate conferees on the foreign aid bill agreed to the House position after the chief House negotiator, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Dante B. Fascell (D-Fla.) said the House language would allow CIA cooperation with the government agency eventually appointed by Reagan to funnel the aid to the contras.
Lawmakers said yesterday that, although the House language is more restrictive than the Senate's, it still leaves a lot of "gray area" about what the aid can be used for and how involved the CIA could be.
Nicaragua was one of several agreements reached by the conferees yesterday.
In completing action on the foreign aid bill, negotiators went along with House and Senate votes ending a decade-old ban on U.S. military assistance to guerillas fighting the Marxist government of Angola. However, the conferees also approved language stating that repeal of the ban, known as the Clark amendment, does not indicate an endorsement by Congress of renewed CIA involvement in the African country.
The conferees stripped out antiabortion language included in the foreign aid bill by both chambers that opponents said would have ended U.S. support for the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). That U.N. body funds population control programs around the world, including in China, where "pro-life" groups charge a policy of coercive abortions is used to reduce population growth. House language condemning China for "crimes against humanity" was erased by the conferees.
Because the conferees did not specifically earmark funds for UNFPA, antiabortion lawmakers claimed a major victory, saying it would allow Reagan to avoid funding the organization if he wished.
The conferees left intact a provision adopted by the House and Senate that would cut off $3 million in military aid to the leftist government of Mozambique. They also adopted House language prohibiting any nonemergency economic aid to Mozambique until the government reduces the number of foreign military advisers and troops to no more than 55.
In dealing with aid to the Philippines, the conferees adopted a compromise between the House and Senate bills that provided $70 million in military aid and $110 million in economic assistance. The $180 million total was not in dispute between the two chambers, but the House had provided only $25 million in military aid, while the Senate had gone along with the admininistration request and given Manila $100 million.
For El Salvador, the conferees softened House language that required the U.S-backed government there to meet human rights standards in order to receive aid. They changed the requirement to say merely that the government was "expected" to meet those standards.
In the supplemental conference, House and Senate negotiators agreed on a spending package for the rest of this fiscal year that, amomg other items, would provide about $3.5 billion in end-of-the-year funding for Social Security, $3.9 billion for Commodity Credit Corp. aid to farmers, $1.5 billion in emergency economic aid to Israel and $500 million in similar assistance to Egypt. An additional $250 million in economic aid was given to Jordan.
The conferees also agreed to provide $63 million for 61 water projects, but only after House negotiators agreed to a compromise endorsing the principle that local governments should bear some of the costs of these and future projects.