President Bush is seeking $14.5 billion in foreign aid for the 1992 fiscal year, with special emphasis on countries assisting the U.S. war against Iraq and the emerging democracies in Eastern Europe, Secretary of State James A. Baker III said yesterday.
Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Baker outlined a foreign aid request that would be almost $1 billion higher than the fiscal 1991 level of $13.7 billion. The requested amount is most of an international affairs budget request of $19.6 billion, and the administration proposes to spend 51 percent of the total outlay on economic and humanitarian assistance and 22 percent on military assistance.
Following the upheavals in Eastern Europe in late 1989, the administration answered complaints that aid still was being dispensed according to outmoded Cold War considerations by saying that major priority shifts would become evident in the 1992 budget.
However, such unexpected factors as the Persian Gulf crisis and signs of a swing back toward increased authoritarian rule in Moscow have complicated efforts to reshuffle aid outlays, State Department officials said yesterday. As a result, decisions have not been made on the specific amounts that the administration tentatively will propose for many nations and regions.
However, the status quo will be maintained for the two biggest recipients of U.S. aid, Israel and Egypt, despite pressures for major cuts in foreign aid at a time of budgetary austerity. Both are key players in the U.S. effort in the Persian Gulf crisis. Egypt has been a major contributor of troops to the anti-Iraq alliance, and Israel has earned U.S. gratitude for not causing problems for the coalition's Arab members by retaliating against Iraq's Scud missile attacks on Israeli population centers.
Department officials said the 1991 aid levels for Israel -- $1.8 billion military and $1.3 billion economic -- and Egypt -- $1.3 billion military and $815 million economic -- will be maintained. In terms of overall military assistance, Israel will get 36 percent of the total amount and Egypt 26 percent. On the economic aid side, Israel's share will be 11 percent and Egypt's 8 percent.
Turkey, which has provided bases for U.S. aerial attacks against Iraq, will be the third-biggest aid recipient, the officials said. They added, though, that the precise figures for Turkey still are being worked on, although Ankara tentatively is slated to get about 13 percent of the military aid.
In response to questions yesterday, Baker said no formal request has been received from Israel for special additional help to resettle the thousands of Soviet Jewish emigres pouring into the Jewish state. There has been widespread speculation that Israel will ask the United States to provide between $10 billion and $15 billion for resettlement programs.
Several committee members complained that the administration still has not given Israel the $400 million housing loan guarantee for Soviet Jews approved by Congress 10 months ago. Baker replied that Israel still has not yet provided all the necessary technical data and clarifications sought by the administration of Israeli promises not to use the money to settle Soviet Jews in occupied Palestinian areas. When the required information is in hand, Baker added, he will recommend extending the $400 million guarantee at once rather than in three phases, as originally planned.
The officials were unable to provide precise amounts for other countries although they said about 4 percent of the economic aid will go to Eastern Europe, primarily for structural reform programs in areas like privatization and environment rather than to individual countries.
Other tentative allocations of economic assistance will include Africa, 8 percent; Central America, 5 percent; Bush's Enterprise for the Americas program, 4 percent; food aid, 12 percent; and multilateral development, 15 percent.
In the military aid area, Greece is slated to get 7 percent; the Philippines, 4 percent; Portugal, 2 percent; Central America, 2 percent; and the Andean countries cooperating with U.S. drug-fighting efforts, 3 percent.
The administration also is asking $956 million for the United Nations.
In addition to the regular budget, the administration is seeking a one-time appropriation of $12.2 billion to cover the U.S. share of a global quota increase for the International Monetary Fund.