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Bush Rebuffed On Abortion

In a rebuff of President Bush, a House committee approved a Democratic measure Wednesday that would overturn the ban on aiding foreign organizations that discuss abortion with their clients or advocate abortion rights.

The House International Relations Committee also voted to reverse Mr. Bush's decision to end the annual assessment of Taiwan's military equipment needs. A third vote urged the president not to scrap a global warming treaty that mandated pollution reductions to curb heat-trapping greenhouse emissions.

Three Republicans sided with unanimous Democrats on the 26-22 vote dealing with aid to foreign organizations engaged in abortion-related activities.

Abortion End-Run
It appears congressional foes might not get the chance to sink the 'Mexico City policy.' Last month the White House announced President Bush plans to safeguard the ban by instituting the policy as a special memorandum that his advisers say is not subject to review.
The provision — which would nullify the order Mr. Bush imposed as his first act after taking office — was added to the $8.2 billion State Department authorization bill. The bill was approved by voice vote; floor action was expected next week.

"This issue, in our view, is a freedom of speech issue, not an abortion issue," Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., the committee's top Democrat.

The committee chairman, GOP Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, a longtime abortion opponent, said before the vote: "If this amendment prevails, the bill will be vetoed," jeopardizing $582 million in back U.S. dues to the United Nations, among other things.
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., who introduced the measure to the committee, said, "Let me clarify right off the bat that no U.S. funds go to perform abortions abroad. This has been our nation's policy since 1973," when Congress passed a provision to that effect sponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C.

Other amendments approved would:

  • Urge the administration to continue participating in international negotiations to complete the global warming treaty. In March, Mr. Bush said the treaty discriminated against the United States and he pledged not to submit it to the Senate.

    Conservative Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., joined 22 Democrats in favor; 20 Republicans voted no.

  • Require the pesident to consult with Taiwan and Congress at least once a year regarding what weapons the island needs, in line with U.S. policy since 1982. Mr. Bush said last week the administration would consider arms sales on an "as-needed basis." The provision was approved by voice vote.
  • Urge the president to rejoin the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, which the United States quit in 1984 over concerns about political polarization. It won approval by a 23-14 margin, with Reps. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, and Amo Houghton, R-N.Y., joining 21 Democrats in the majority; 14 Republicans voting no.
The restrictions on support for foreign organizations involved with abortion activities are called the "Mexico City policy." President Reagan first announced his plans to implement the strategy at a 1984 population conference there.

The first President Bush continued it, but President Clinton overturned it, except when he allowed it to become law for a year as a compromise to gain passage of a bill that included money for some U.N. dues the United States owed.

Republicans said the policy does not take any money away from the $425 million the administration requested for global population assistance, but directs that it go only to organizations that do not foster abortions.

The Republicans who voted for Lee's amendment were Reps. Benjamin Gilman, Houghton and Leach.

The overall authorization bill covers 2002 and 2003, but only specifies an amount, $8.2 billion, for the first year. That does not cover foreign aid.

© MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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