House ready to reject administration bid for new IMF money
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sept. 17) -- Despite urgent pleas from President Bill Clinton, the House is ready to deny the full $18 billion he is seeking to help the International Monetary Fund replenish coffers depleted by the world's widening economic crisis.
But Republican leaders are holding out the possibility they might relent, possibly just before they quit for the year. "It's a bridge we will cross at a later time," said Rep. Sonny Callahan, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations.
House Republicans will continue to block the funds for now, Republican strategists said, but may conditionally support them after a House-Senate conference committee is formed to reconcile differences in the rival versions of the legislation.
It's a high-stakes strategy of confrontation that Republicans are playing to increase their leverage in end-of-session dealings with a politically weakened president.
The House was expected to debate the IMF funds today as it takes up a $12.5 billion international aid bill. Republican leaders predict the House will approve only $3.4 billion for the IMF, following the lead of its Appropriations Committee.
That's far below the $18 billion the president wants, and which the Senate earlier this month went along with.
Clinton: World faces biggest financial challenge in 50 years
Clinton claims the full $18 billion is needed to help replenish IMF accounts badly strained by what he called this week the "biggest financial challenge facing the world in a half-century."
But administration allies have been frustrated trying to win approval of the fresh IMF funds in the House. Terms for debating the foreign aid legislation crafted by GOP leaders late Wednesday will make it extremely difficult for IMF supporters to even bring their amendment for the added funds to a vote.
"The Republican leadership has adopted a `Stop the world; I want to get off philosophy,"' Nancy Pelosi, sponsor of the amendment for the full $18 billion, said Wednesday.
The legislation before the House on Thursday also contains anti-abortion language Clinton has threatened to veto.
Clinton may have to accept stringent conditions if he expects Congress to approve the full $18 billion he has requested for the IMF, a top Republican leader is suggesting.
Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston is among those hinting they might support the full $18 billion -- but later, rather than sooner.
That makes the IMF money a potent bargaining chip for Republicans.
Although most Democrats and moderate Republicans support the full IMF payment, GOP conservatives, particularly in the House, have balked.
The international aid bill also would torpedo a vital component of an agreement reached four years ago between the United States and North Korea. The provision bars the congressional release of $35 million to finance fuel deliveries to North Korea.
Under the 1994 agreement, North Korea promised to dismantle its plutonium-producing reactors and replace them with safer, light-water reactors. To help meet North Korea's energy needs in the interim, the United States promised to ship it half a million tons of heavy fuel each year.