Washington (Dec. 10)
The House adopted by a 222-184 vote last night a bill authorizing $5.7 billion in foreign aid of which one half goes to the Middle East.
The bill provides for Israel, in the current fiscal year that began Oct. 1 and for 1983, the same amount it received last year — $1.4 billion in military assistance and $785 million in economic aid. All of the economic aid is a grant and $500 million of the military assistance is a direct credit, meaning it is forgiven.
Egypt’s appropriations will be the same in the next two years as in the 1981 fiscal year. This includes $900 million in military assistance, of which $100 million is forgiven, and $750 million in economic assistance, all of it a grant.
The bill deleted all appropriations for Syria. An amendment adopted yesterday provided up to $7 million to aid in the rehabilitation of Lebanon. The bill also specified that $11 million in each year can be used for special requirements in the Middle East, such as regional cooperative agricultural, health, energy and educational projects. Of this amount, $4 million can be used for projects that would promote regional cooperation between Israel and Egypt with other Middle Eastern countries.
REVERSAL OF PARTY POSITIONS
The voting yesterday saw a reversal of the party positions that characterized previous votes on foreign aid in which Republican opposition had prevented adoption of a foreign aid bill since 1979. Rep. Peter Peyser (D. NY), noting that he has voted for all previous foreign aid bills, said yesterday that he opposed this bill in protest against the Reagan Administration’s cuts in domestic programs.
He noted, however, that even if the bill had been defeated yesterday, countries such as Israel would receive their appropriations in the continuing budget resolution.
The Democrats, who waited for the Republicans to cast their votes before voting themselves, supported the bill by 125-98 but for many Democrats, it was the first time they had cast votes against foreign aid. The Republicans, traditionally opposed to foreign aid and able, with the help of conservative Democrats, to defeat such measures in past Congresses, supported the authorization bill yesterday by a vote of 97-86.
The Republican reversal came after President Reagan sent House Republicans a special appeal Monday and Secretary of State Alexander Haig met with them Monday morning before leaving for Europe. The House bill was worked out by the Administration and the Democratic-controlled Foreign Affairs Committee.
A House-Senate conference committee will have to work out differences between the House measure and an earlier Senate bill which authorizes $5.8 billion in foreign aid. The funds for Israel, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries are not expected to be effected.