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Extra $70 Million for Refugees is Now in the Hands of Congress

February 14, 1990
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Jewish groups are hoping that Congress will quickly approve a request made last week by the Bush administration for $70 million in supplemental funds for the State Department’s refugee budget.

The money is needed to bridge a shortfall to bring 40,000 Soviet refugees to the United States this fiscal year with full government funding. An additional 10,000 refugees will be admitted with private assistance.

Mark Talisman, director of the Washington Action Office of the Council of Jewish Federations, said the measure could be approved within two weeks, if it is attached to a bill providing emergency relief to Panama.

Talisman said he does not expect the request to linger for months. He warned that “anything past March” would be “a disaster” for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

The two agencies, which rely on State Department funds to help cover the refugees’ costs while in transit to the United States, are expected to receive $30 million of the $70 million.

The supplemental funds are needed largely because Congress last fall allocated $55 million less than was needed to cover the costs of bringing the 1990 quota of refugees to the United States.

The gap grew recently when the State Department transferred $15 million from its refugee admissions budget to a Health and Human Services Department program that assists newly arrived refugees with initial resettlement costs.

That transfer brought some financial relief to Jewish community federations, which receive matching funds from the HHS program.

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