House Passes Foreign Aid Bill Including $6.2 Billion for Israel

A total of $6.2 billion in aid to Israel over the next two years sailed through the House of Representatives on Wednesday as the 1992-93 Foreign Aid Authorization Bill passed by a vote of 301 to 102.

The measure provides Israel with $3 billion in all-grant aid in the 1992 fiscal year and $3.2 billion in fiscal 1993.

In each year, Israel would receive a $1.2 billion grant for economic aid, while its military grant would go from $1.8 billion in 1992 to $2 billion in 1993.

Aid to Jordan, set at $27 million by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was eliminated administration.

The money could go to Jordan, however, if President Bush certifies that it has “taken steps to advance the peace process in the Middle East, or that furnishing assistance to Jordan would be beneficial to the peace process in the Middle East.”

That language, sponsored by Rep. David Obey (D-Wis), was approved by voice vote to modify an earlier amendment by Rep. John Miller (R-Wash).

Miller’s amendment would have required Bush to certify that Jordan has recognized Israel’s right to exist.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher was displeased even by the modified amendment.

“We think that rigid legislation prohibiting or restricting aid to Jordan would remove a key tool we have to respond to improved Jordanian behavior,” Boucher said.

“Such legislation could inhibit Jordan’s effort to return to its traditionally moderate and helpful role in the area,” he added.

The administration apparently is seeking to improve U.S.-Jordanian relations, which were severely strained when King Hussein supported Saddam Hussein of Iraq in the Persian Gulf War.

The authorization bill also calls for a freeze on sales of major weapons systems in the region.

Meanwhile, the appropriations bill that would actually supply the money was approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee last week, but has not yet reached the House floor.

The House overwhelmingly defeated an amendment by Rep. John Bryant (D-Texas) that would have cut Israel’s aid package by $82.5 million in 1992. That figure is roughly equal to the amount the Israeli government spent last year to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Under the Bryant amendment, which failed by a 378-to-44 vote, Bush could have allowed Israel to receive the money if Israel demonstrated that it was not investing “in new and expanded settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, other than Jerusalem.”

Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), chairman of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Mideast, spoke against the amendment.

” We are going to stop the settlements only through the peace process itself,” he said.

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