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.
"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 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.
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