The Office of Management and Budget advised House and Senate conferees Dec. 16 that it "strongly opposes" an $8 million appropriation to build schools for North African Jews in France, a project pushed by Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), according to the State Department.
The State Department said yesterday that the OMB, in a letter to the conferees just before they started final work on the 1988 budget, characterized the expenditure as an "especially troublesome earmark."
The OMB told the conferees that the administration "strongly opposes the Senate provisions" mandating that the money be spent on the construction of education facilities for North African Jewish refugees in France.
Inouye, who congressional sources said last weekend had pressed hard for the item, said in an interview in Hawaii Tuesday that State Department officials sat in on the drafting sessions and never objected when congressional panels were writing the law. Yesterday the senator said through a spokesman that to the best of his knowledge the conferees never received the OMB letter and no one from State brought the objection to his attention.
Inouye said Tuesday that he supported the item after he was briefed on the troubles of 400,000 North African Sephardic Jews by officials of the New York-based Ozar Hatorah organization. A board member of Ozar Hatorah contributed $1,000 to Inouye's most recent campaign.
U.S. officials have said that the appropriation is a problem for several reasons, including that it is aid for a religious-related institution, that funds for a worsening worldwide refugee problem have been curtailed and that the schools are to be built in a foreign country.