WASHINGTON (Sep. 6)
The House adopted today the Halpern-Rooney amendment authorizing the President to withhold U.S. economic assistance from nations discriminating against American citizens because of religious bias. The amendment was incorporated into the Mutual Security Appropriations Bill to remedy the deletions made in the House anti-bias clause in last month’s Mutual Security authorization bill by a Senate-House conference.
The amendment, passed today, was sponsored by Representatives Seymour Halpern, New York Republican and John J. Rooney, Democrat, also of New York. The amendment was supported by Chairman Thomas E. Morgan, Pennsylvania Democrat, of the House Foreign Affairs committee, and Chairman Otto Passman, Louisiana Democrat, of the Foreign Operations Appropriations sub-committee.
Senate elements displeased by what they termed the “watering down” of the anti-bias clause in the authorization bill indicated they would strongly back the new amendment in the appropriations bill when it comes before the Senate. The new amendment said:
“It is the sense of Congress that any attempt by foreign nations to create distinctions because of their race or religion among American citizens in the granting of personal or commercial access or any other rights otherwise available to United States citizens generally is repugnant to our principles; and in all negotiations between the United States and any foreign state arising as a result of funds appropriated under this title these principles shall be applied as the President may determine.”
Rep. Halpern said it was “of vital importance” that the amendment, when also approved by the Senate “be implemented by the Executive Department.” He stressed that “nothing short of this amendment to the Foreign Assistance Appropriations Act is satisfactory to carry out the sense of Congress as expressed heretofore in previous appropriations bills and it fulfills the principle espoused by the President linking social justice and morality to our foreign aid program.”
“To omit this provision as did the earlier bill would have been interpreted as a retreat on the part of Congressman appeasement–which could only lead to more flagrant violations of decency and international law on the part of certain (Arab) nations receiving our aid,” Rep. Halpern said. With adoption of the amendment, he said, “there can be no question here as to the sense of Congress.”
Rep. Rooney said the amendment was “bi-partisan” and did not require debate because it was passed in previous years and was a measure designed to protect American citizens from “foreign discrimination.”