WASHINGTON (Dec. 21)
The Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Assistance approved Friday, over strong Administration objections to provisions to put tight controls by Congress on future military sales and grants programs, the Administration’s $4.7 billion foreign aid bill which included nearly $3 billion in aid for Israel and Egypt.
The subcommittee version out a total of $411 million from the Administration’s proposal, about nine percent of the original authorization request which came within the guidelines set up by the newly established Congressional budget committee.
As part of the second Sinai interim accord between Egypt and Israel, the Administration asked $1.5 billion in military credits to Israel, with about one-half which would not have to be repaid and an additional $740 million in security support aid.
The subcommittee, headed by Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D.Minn.) originally planned to cut the $740 million request for Israel by $25 million but restored the full amount. Subcommittee sources said the cut would be a blow to Israel after its recent setbacks by the General Assembly and specialized agencies of the United Nations, noting the amount would still be $15 million under the $755 million approved by the House International Relations Committee on Dec. 9.
CUT AID FOR ARABS
The Administration had asked for $750 million in economic aid for Egypt, $90 million for Syria, $77.5 million in economic aid and $176 million in military credits and grants for Jordan. The subcommittee cut the totals to $725 million for Egypt to $35 million for Syria and to $52.5 million in economic aid and to $126 million in military grants and credits for Jordan.
Under the subcommittee’s plans, the subcommittee measure was to have gone to the full Foreign Relations Committee for consideration and approval Friday before the Congressional Yule recess. But the Administration managed to persuade Sen. John Sparkman (D.Ala.), the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Sen. Humphrey and others on the committee to delay final approval until after Congress reconvenes in mid-January apparently in hope of changing the control provisions.
Sources said there may be further cuts by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is still working on the authorization bill. Companion measures are nearing approval by the House International Relations Committee and House Appropriations Committee, with final action in the two houses anticipated in late January.
Under an amendment sponsored by Sen. Clifford Case (R.NJ) and Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D. Wis.) Congress would have authority equal to that of the Executive branch to veto the transfer of U.S. weapons by the purchasing nation to a third country. Senate sources said an example was the use of American warplanes sold to Iran and used by Egyptian pilots. Another amendment would enable Congress to cancel any transaction if a country like Saudi Arabia practiced discrimination against Americans assigned to an aid project.
PLAN SALE OF HAWKEYES TO ISRAEL
In a related development, the Defense Department informed Congress Friday that it plans to sell four naval airplanes to Israel for delivery in September and October 1978. The total contract, covering spare parts, logistical support and the training of personnel for the E-2C aircraft has an estimated value of $210 million.
The U.S. Navy Department under the Foreign Military Sales Act, will have responsibility for this contract. The aircraft have been described as advanced Hawkeye surveillance planes and are expected to be used by Israel over the Sinai desert in its monitoring of the second Sinai interim accord with Egypt. Sources here reported that the U.S. plans to sell Israel two more Hawkeyes next year.