WASHINGTON (Apr. 4)
The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved $400 million in investment guarantees to provide housing loans for newly arrived Soviet emigres in Israel.
The $400 million was contained in a $2.4 billion supplemental appropriations bill for this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. President Bush requested the bill, which also includes emergency aid for Nicaragua and Panama.
The bill, which was approved 362-59, also contains $35 million to help Jewish groups bring Soviet Jews to the United States or resettle them in Israel.
The $35 million is part of a larger $75 million figure the House approved mainly to meet a shortfall in the U.S. worldwide refugee budget for this fiscal year.
Of the $35 million, $30 million would go to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Those groups assist Soviet Jews seeking entry to the United States.
Also as part of the bill, the House approved $5 million for the United Israel Appeal, which distributes funds raised by the United Jewish Appeal. Those funds were needed not because of underfeeding of the U.S. refugee program, but out of recognition that larger numbers of Soviet Jews arc going to Israel.
UIA had previously received nearly $25 million for resettling Soviet Jews in Israel proper this year.
Mark Talisman, director of the Washington Action Office of the Council of Jewish Federations, hailed the House action. He predicted that the Senate would take up both measures before it adjourns next week for Easter and Passover.
The House bill was sponsored by Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.). A similar Senate version is sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Robert Kasten (R-Wis.).
Rep. Gus Savage (D-III.), who made anti-Semitic remarks after he won his primary reelection campaign late last month, tried unsuccessfully to strip the $400 million and the $75 million from the bill.
Savage noted that Israel received nearly $3 billion in U.S. aid this year, while 45 nations in sub-Saharan Africa received about $30 million.
The House voted 418-2 to retain the $75 million, and on voice vote decided to retain the $400 million in loan guarantees. Only Rep. George Crockett (D-Mich.), who is retiring, sided with Savage on the roll-call vote.