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House debates measure to cut off Kosovo funding

Senate: U.S. will not pay for rebuilding Serbia

June 9, 1999
Web posted at: 5:40 p.m. EDT (2140 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 9) -- The House debated Wednesday a GOP measure to cut off future funding for U.S. military operations in the Balkans, even as Yugoslav and NATO officials finalized an agreement on the withdrawal of Serb troops from Kosovo and suspension of NATO airstrikes.

Democrats, claiming the debate was ill-timed considering the delicate talks leading up to Wednesday afternoon's signing of the agreement, worked to strip the provision attached to the $288.8 billion defense spending bill now on the House floor. That effort was joined by some Republicans

Meanwhile, the House adopted, 428-0, a package of amendments to the appropriations bill from members of the House committee that released a report last month cataloged 20 years of alleged Chinese spying that resulted in stolen U.S. nuclear secrets.

The proposals would strengthen counterintelligence initiatives at the Department of Energy, require polygraph tests of employees at national laboratories, restricts lab visits by foreigners and requires a barrage of new reports to Congress on technology exports.

"This is a balanced response to an urgent problem," said Rep. Christopher Cox (R-California), the chairman of the committee and the author of the amendments. "Our report found wholesale inexcusable national security weaknesses ... at our laboratories."

The Kosovo-related measure in the defense spending bill would cut off funds for U.S. involvement in any NATO-led military operations in Yugoslavia after September 30.

"Now is not the time to have this particular debate," Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas) said earlier in the day. He called the provision "inappropriate and ill-advised. ... It makes the House a laughing stock."

Goss
Rep. Porter Goss  

Republicans, who have not been generally supportive of the NATO airstrikes against Serb targets in Yugoslavia and Kosovo, defended their right to take up the issue now.

"It would be a huge embarrassment for us not to discuss the Kosovo situation," said Rep. Porter Goss (R-Florida), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

The House debate follows Senate approval Tuesday of a measure that insists that the United States not be billed under the terms of the Kosovo peace plan for any costs associated with rebuilding Serbia, so long as Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is still in power.

"Rebuilding should primarily be done with European money," said Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Stevens said some European leaders were estimating that the U.S. would pay up to half the costs of repairing the damage from NATO airstrikes that began March 24.

Stevens
Sen. Ted Stevens  

The prohibition, which had wide bipartisan support, was part of its $265 billion defense spending bill approved Tuesday by the Senate by a 93-4 margin.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) said that even if the Kosovo peace plan is approved, "the problem is Milosevic."

Lott and other Senate leaders say they want to see Milosevic arrested and tried on his indictment by an international war-crimes tribunal -- although Lott did not say how Milosevic might be apprehended.

Included in the package is a 4.8 percent across-the-board pay raise for military personnel. That figure is an increase over the 4.4 percent hike requested by President Bill Clinton. The whole bill is $1.4 billion higher overall for the year than the White House's budget for the fiscal year that begins October 1.


RELATED STORIES

Poll: Americans view Kosovo peace as a U.S. victory (6-7-99)

Clinton signs $15 billion spending bill for Kosovo, storm victims, farmers (5-21-99)

Senators pass $15 billion spending bill for Kosovo, storm victims, farmers (5-20-99)

House approves $13 billion for Kosovo fighting (5-6-99)


STRIKE ON YUGOSLAVIA

Judge dismisses House members' War Power suit against Clinton (6-8-99)

Republicans react to Belgrade's acceptance of peace plan (6-4-99)

Senate likely to table Kosovo resolution (5-3-99)

Poll: Congress should have authority over U.S. involvement in Kosovo (5-3-99)

House OKs bill restricting Clinton's ability to deploy ground troops (4-28-99)


TIME THIS WEEK

Why Milosevic blinked and why NATO isn't celebrating

Gore's role in the peace plan: Deep in the details


INTERACTIVE

Presidential hopefuls stake out positions on NATO airstrikes


VOTEWATCH

How did your reps vote? Find out with Congressional Quarterly's "Votewatch." The vote database is searchable by name, zip code, date or subject.


CNN IN-DEPTH:

Focus on Kosovo

The Conflict:

  • From TIME: The Kosovo Catastrophe: In Pictures
  • Kosovo Primer

    Message Board:

  • Your thoughts...



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    Wednesday, June 9, 1999

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