Clinton waives prohibition against U.S. aid to family planning groups
November 30, 1999
Web posted at: 5:22 p.m. EST (2222 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Within hours of signing the final budget bill of the year on Monday, President Bill Clinton waived a provision prohibiting U.S. assistance to any international family planning group that promotes abortion, the White House announced Tuesday.
The restriction was imposed as part of a compromise that the
White House reached with conservative Republicans in Congress
this year to pay off about $1 billion that the United States
owed in U.N. dues.
A White House spokesman said the Republicans agreed the
compromise in the knowledge that Clinton would take steps to
lift the restriction. "We made it very clear at the time that
the president was going to exercise the waiver," the spokesman
By signing the waiver on Monday, Clinton was in effect
allowing most of the $385 million U.S. funds earmarked for
international family planning groups to move forward, the White
Under the compromise, the president accepted the legal prohibition on use of any U.S. tax dollars for any overseas group that promotes or performs abortion. In return, he negotiated the right to waiver the ban. By waiving it, the administration loses a small percentage of the overall budget for international family planning.
By exercising a blanket waiver, Clinton sent a reassuring message to family planning groups that the law will not disrupt the operation of any organization that receives U.S. aid.
Congressional Democrats had criticized the compromise, and the issue of U.S. funds for international family planning groups is likely to come up again in next year's budget debate.
Last week, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said
Clinton would try to restore spending on international family
planning programs in the next budget to 1995 levels of $541.6
The waiver "allows us to pay our U.N. dues finally, and
fund international family planning at 97 percent until the new
fiscal year," one administration official said.
The United States was in danger of losing its seat in the
General Assembly if it did not pay the dues.
CNN's Chris Black and Reuters contributed to this report.