WASHINGTON (Feb. 10)
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s increase of the foreign aid package for the current fiscal year by 25 percent came under a cloud today when the States Department said that the Administration is reviewing “the impact” of the increase.
Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D.Minn.), announced to the Senate last week that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and Undersecretary of States for Political Affairs Joseph J. Sisco had agreed in his conversations with them that the aid package was to be increased by one-quarter to take into account the three-month transitional period of July 1-Sept. 30 between the end of fiscal 1976 on June 30 to the beginning of fiscal 1977 Oct. 1. The increase was proposed by Sen. Clifford Case (R.NJ).
Today, however. State Department spokesman Robert Funseth announced that the “Administration is presently reviewing its position of the impact of the transitional quarter on the security assistance package, including the Middle East.” He said that “when the Executive branch completes its review, we will be in touch with Congress”
Under the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s authorization bill, now before the Senate. Israel and some 50 other countries are to receive an additional 25 percent in recommendations for this fiscal year. In the case of Israel this would mean an increase from $2.25 billion to $2.81 billion, and for Egypt an increase from approximately $700 million to $875 million. Humphrey reported his discussions with Kissinger and Sisco on the Senate floor during the presentation of the bill.
SPECULATION ABOUT DISAGREEMENTS
Funseth said Humphrey had phoned Kissinger and “discussed technical aspects” of the aid package, however, he added, the “Administration has not completed its review.” Asked if the Administration has changed its mind and is now pulling back from its agreement with the Senate committee’s leadership, Funseth said he was “not aware” of that and noted that there were “lots of contacts” that included other parts of the Administration.
His remarks immediately raised speculation that the White House is not in agreement with Kissinger and Sisco and that President Ford has suspended, at least temporarily, Kissinger’s authority to handle the aid package along the lines of the agreement reported by Humphrey.
When asked if Kissinger had mis-stated the Administration’s position or whether the Administration had changed its position since then in view of the Senate record showing that the Administration supported the Case amendment. Funseth said “I’ll have to check into that point.” Funseth emphasized that the Administration’s review was not concerned with Israel alone but with the “whole aid package including the Middle East.”