An article yesterday misstated a provision in the 1991 foreign aid bill dealing with aid to El Salvador. Half of military aid to El Salvador would be withheld unless anti-government guerrillas decline to participate in a cease fire or peace negotiations. The aid would be fully terminated if the Salvadoran government refuses to negotiate or fails to conduct a "serious and professional" investigation of the murder of Jesuit priests last Nov. 16. Overall, the bill would cut $193 million from the current year's military aid level. (Published 6/23/90)

Democratic members of the House Appropriations Committee agreed yesterday to tone down military assistance cuts in a proposed foreign aid bill to gain Republican support, but a key Republican member said the president still was likely to veto it unless provisions on El Salvador are changed.

By a voice vote, the committee approved a $15.7 billion compromise measure that added $144 million to the overall military aid figure reported by the foreign operations subcommittee last week. Administration negotiators also succeeded in raising the ceilings set last week for military aid to Greece, Turkey and Portugal, and in restoring $50 million for the World Bank.

Hailing the compromise, Rep. Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.), ranking minority member of the foreign operations subcommittee, said: "We basically went from a bill that none of us {Republicans} could support to a bill that the administration was asking us to support."

However, major fights still loom on El Salvador and aid for family planning programs.

Edwards said several days of intense negotiations that involved top officials of the State, Treasury and Defense departments and the National Security Council had produced a promise of administration support for the basic bill. But he added that Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger and national security adviser Brent Scowcroft warned in a letter that they would recommend a veto unless language on El Salvador was altered. The disputed language calls for a 50 percent cut in military aid to the Salvadoran government unless it negotiates with guerrillas and makes progress in investigating last year's murders of Jesuit priests.

Urging support for the bill, Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), chairman of the foreign operations subcommittee, noted it still cuts overall military aid, while providing more money for African economic development, refugees, narcotics control, the Export-Import Bank and efforts to reduce global warming.

It also bans further aid to the non-communist resistance in Cambodia led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk and others and redirects $10 million to peace efforts.

But Rep. Sidney Yates (D-Ill.) complained, "This will be an administration bill." Part of the $325 million total military aid cut is purely technical, and results from expected higher foreign military loan repayments next year.

The last-minute increase for military aid and the World Bank came at the expense of aid to Eastern Europe, the Asian Development Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and development assistance, all of which still get more money than last year.

Obey also used yesterday's forum to lash out at West Germany for its failure to write off uncollectible loans to Poland, noting the massive German debts forgiven by the Allies after World War II. The bill withholds a $70 million U.S. contribution to the new Eastern Europe aid bank until these loans are written off.

In a side development, Rep. Charles Wilson (D-Tex.) withdrew a proposal to exempt small companies from a surcharge on foreign sales of night vision equipment. The charge recovers government-financed research costs. Night goggles are made by Varo and OEC, of Garland, Tex. Sam Yanagisawa of the Dallas-based Night Vision Manufacturers Association, which paid Wilson a $650 honorarium last year, said the surcharge gives European exporters an edge over U.S. firms.