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U.S. Faces Loss Of UN Vote

What does the U.S. have in common with the Republic of Moldova, Somalia and our frequent nemesis Iraq?

As CBS News Correspondent Eric Engberg reports, all are members of the United Nations "deadbeat" club -- countries behind in paying their dues. And if the U.S. doesn't pay by the end of the year, it will lose its right to vote in the General Assembly.

The hang-up isn't global diplomacy, it's abortion politics. And UN backers say the man to blame is Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J.

"I wish I had that kind of power. I don't," Smith said.

Smith is a leader of the anti-abortion forces in the House. For three years they have attached a condition to paying UN dues -- a near ban on UN support for population control groups that advocate abortion.


Christopher Smith

"We can't save all the children, but we might be able to save some. And this is what it's all about," Smith said.

The pro-abortion Clinton Administration has vetoed the abortion restrictions and threatens to do so again.

Democrats say it's wrong to mix the dues question with the abortion controversy.

"We are supposed to be the greatest country in the world. We ought to act like it. You can't lead people on hunger issues, on foreign policy issues, on peacemaking issues if you are not paying your bills," said Rep. David Obey, D-Wisconsin.

UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke has been lobbying frantically, saying the U.S. will be humiliated at the UN and lose international clout.

"Make no mistake about it. This is about our national security, not about paying money to some UN bureaucrats," Holbrooke said.

Smith says the fault lies with the White House.

"They are doing whatever the abortion lobbyists tell them to do, and that's no way to run a government," Smith said.

Besides, Smith contends, losing the UN vote is no big deal.

"The idea that U.S. foreign policy will be gravely injured if we lose that vote is pure hyperbole and pure exaggeration," he said.

But many Republicans disagree and don't want to be blamed for an international embarrassment. So compromise efforts are in high gear.

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