As President Clinton tiptoed away from a threatened veto, Republicans pushed an emergency bill through the House Thursday with $6-billion for U.S. disaster victims and troops abroad but none of the money he had demanded for the International Monetary Fund and United Nations.
Rather than risking an election-year faceoff over unpopular foreign aid funds, Clinton was ready to sign the measure and fight another day for $18-billion for the IMF and $900-million for unpaid U.N. dues.
Just one day after the administration threatened a veto, White House Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Linda Ricci said Clinton will sign the bill. She said it contained needed funds and Republicans had removed objectionable items like subsidies to encourage banks to continue making student loans.
"I call on Congress to step up to its responsibility and renew our commitment to the International Monetary Fund and to pay our United Nations dues," Clinton said at a news conference where he never mentioned a veto.
The House approved the measure 242-163. Voting yes were 50 Democrats and 192 Republicans; voting no were 141 Democrats, 21 Republicans and one independent. Senate passage came later. Voting for the package were 40 Democrats and 48 Republicans. Five Democrats and six Republicans voted against it.
Republicans indicated that not all hope for IMF money this year should be lost. "These issues will be addressed, but it won't be today," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston, R-La.
Democrats were unhappy that housing money for the poor was being cut to help pay for the bill, and they accused Republicans of omitting the IMF funds for political reasons. House conservatives have said the money not be sent to Clinton until he agrees to ban U.S. aid to groups that lobby to liberalize abortion laws overseas.