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Critics vow to restore funds U.S. will withhold from U.N.

The Bush administration, in a victory for social conservatives who oppose abortion, will withhold $34-million that had been earmarked for U.N. family planning programs overseas.

Instead, the money will go to international child survival and health programs of the U.S. Agency for International Development, officials said Monday.

Critics of the decision said it was driven by politics and vowed to fight to ensure funding for the U.N. program. U.N. SecretaryGeneral Kofi Annan said he was disappointed, and China said it hoped the decision will be changed.

Thoraya Obaid, executive director of the U.N. fund, questioned why the administration cut off aid to all countries, when in the past, the fund has simply promised not to spend the money in China.

A State Department fact-finding team recommended the administration maintain the earlier arrangement.

But State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, in announcing the decision, said the administration considered the law and other factors and concluded "that theU.N. Population Fund moneys go to Chinese agencies that carry out coercive programs" that involve abortion.

The White House was involved in the decision and President Bush supported the action, he said.

White House officials privately said conservative activists have pressured the administration for months to prove Bush's antiabortion credentials by permanently denying money to the U.N. fund, which helps countries with reproductive and sexual health, family planning and population strategy.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the State Department "made a decision based on the law and the law is clear that we cannot use federal tax dollars to support or fund organizations abroad that support or fund coerced abortions." The Kemp-Kasten amendment was passed in 1985.

He dismissed allegations of political motivations.

Reading from the report of a U.S. government fact-finding team that traveled to China in May, McClellan said: "The population programs of the People's Republic of China retain coercive elements in law and in practice."

The same report found no evidence that the U.N. fund has "knowingly supported or partici-pated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization" in China.

The team recommended that the administration release up to $34-million but that "no U.S. government funds be allocated for population programs in the PRC."

ARLINGTON BURIALS: The House moved Monday to legally clarify who can be buried at Arlington Cemetery and give the president new powers to waive eligibility requirements for those who make extraordinary contributions to the armed forces. The legislation, approved by a voice vote, generally codifies regulations already put in place by the U.S. Army, which runs the national burial grounds. It now goes to the Senate for action.

PRESCRIPTION DRUG BILLS: Senators moved toward voting on two Medicare prescription drug proposals even as lawmakers tried to prepare a compromise. Lawmakers spent Monday afternoon debating the proposals, which are being offered as amendments to a bill to bring more generic drugs to market. Votes on both measures are planned for today, although lawmakers have already conceded that neither is likely to have the 60 votes needed for passage.

SECRETARY'S STOCK OPTIONS: Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta holds stock options to buy18,400 shares in Lockheed Martin Corp., the giant defense company that holds billions of dollars in contracts with Mineta's agency. Mineta spokesman Chet Lunner said the secretary disqualifies himself from all decisions involving Lockheed.

SUPERFUND CLEANUP: The Environmental Protection Agency has cleared payments to clean up a third of the toxic waste sites for which financing had been delayed this year. Agency officials said Monday that $27-million was made available in June to clean up 11 of 33 Superfund sites in 18 states that an EPA inspector general's report identified as having received no money as of May. In Florida, the American Creosote Works site in Pensacola received $2.7-million.