A Reagan administration effort to wring more foreign aid funding out of Congress apparently was derailed yesterday by Republican legislators' annoyance over continued White House refusal to trim defense spending.
Republican leaders, emerging from a morning White House strategy session on the fiscal 1987 budget, said they went prepared to hear a plea from President Reagan and Secretary of State George P. Shultz for another $550 million for beefed-up security at U.S. facilities worldwide and more aid to the Philippines. Shultz already was armed with a Democratic commitment if a bipartisan agreement could be worked out.
Instead, according to several of those present, the meeting bogged down on the administration's insistence on having $4 billion more in defense funds than the Senate has allocated.
Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, "got to talking about having to face reality on defense . . . it got to be a squabble [with Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger] and nothing was resolved," said Rep. William S. Broomfield (R-Mich.), ranking minority member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Shultz did not bring up the foreign aid issue.
"We need the leadership of the White House if this [foreign aid increase] is going to be approved, but it was not discussed at what is a crucial time," Broomfield said.
"Shultz missed a golden opportunity, in spite of all his talk," one key House staff member said, referring to Shultz's weekend promise to "drop everything" to rescue his $22.6 billion foreign aid and State Department package. Shultz argued to reporters Sunday that U.S. foreign policy commitments will be drastically undermined if Congress sticks by its preliminary funding decisions.
As a result of yesterday's impasse, the House is expected to pass a budget today that will provide $5.6 billion less than the administration request, which could mean cuts of 40 percent to 60 percent in security assistance for nations other than Israel and Egypt, the aide said. The Senate budget resolution passed last week would allocate $17.8 billion, still $4.8 billion short of the administration target.
Other officials said Shultz also could not find time for a proposed meeting on the situation with Rep. Dante B. Fascell (D-Fla.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) and Majority Leader James C. Wright Jr. (D-Tex.).
Fascell, who warned last February that looming fund cuts could decimate the administration's policies, yesterday offered Democratic support for a rule that would allow the administration to propose a foreign aid increase in today's debate. But the Rules Committee did not hear from the administration.
Shultz did raise the issue with Domenici later in the day in Domenici's office.
Domenici said he responded that "you can't cut everything, raise that and still have no revenues added to the pot." But he did promise to defend the Senate-passed foreign aid outlay figures -- $400 million higher than the House allocation -- when the measure comes to a House-Senate conference.
Shultz repeated his call for further help to the Philippines yesterday, noting that President Corazon Aquino "inherited a real mess" from ousted president Ferdinand Marcos. "There are real problems and they do need help," he said on NBC's "Today" show.
Shultz said the administration would help in an international effort to raise $2 billion for Aquino's government, "and we'd like to get them more money from here, but the congressional picture . . . just doesn't seem to allow that."
Neither the Senate resolution nor the House Budget Committee spelled out funding levels for various countries or most State Department programs. But it is all but guaranteed that $5.3 billion will go to Israel and Egypt.
It is likely -- but by no means certain -- that another $2.5 billion will be assigned to nations where there are U.S. military bases (Greece, Turkey, Spain, Portugal and the Philippines), $666 million to Pakistan and $1.3 billion to Central America, all meeting the administration's requests. These programs have been close to sacred, but aid critics have threatened to cut them this year. They also tacked on $1 billion for the Export-Import Bank that the administration had zeroed out.
After that $11 billion or so, the figures diverge widely. The Senate would provide about $6.7 billion and the House committee about $6 billion for everything else, programs that the administration says require $12.6 billion. These include aid to all other nations, international banks, the Peace Corps, narcotics control, the United Nations and all State Department functions, including a proposed $1.1 billion start on the embassy security program that everyone has agreed is a top priority.