The Senate Foreign Relations Committee postponed action yesterday on an administration request for $54 million to train military and police counterterrorism forces in five Central American countries.
The move came after continuing disagreement among Republican and Democratic members.
Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) said markup will be postponed until Dec. 3 to allow time to try to reach "a stronger consensus." The committee failed to muster a quorum yesterday.
Republican and Democratic aides reported no consensus within their own ranks toward the bill, which would resume police counterterrorism training in El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala and Costa Rica after more than a decade.
Democratic members were said to be in general agreement, however, on opposition to the $27 million request for a military counterterrorism program; on a cutback, perhaps by half, of the request for $26 million to initiate a police-training program; on no aid for Guatemala, and on the need for strict U.S. controls to prevent renewed police abuse of human rights.
In addition, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) was pushing for criteria that would prevent the continued presence of officers involved in right-wing "death squad" activities, an aide said.
Kerry has forwarded to the State Department a list of 14 Salvadoran active-duty officers, ranging from lieutenants to lieutenant colonels, suspected of involvement in that nation's death squads.
The aide said Kerry tried in vain to persuade the Central Intelligence Agency to declassify a report on right-wing terrorist activities in El Salvador presented in February to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Republican members, though generally more supportive of the administration request, were also reported to favor authorizating a smaller overall sum.
But several aides said disagreement continues over which countries should be aided. They said Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-Kan.) favors starting military and police training in El Salvador before authorizing others and reported division on funds for Guatemala.