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May 01, 1992 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-05-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

(INSIDE WASHINGTON I

1/ 2 1)
OFF

1

Foreign Aid Bill
Is Threat To Israel

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ongress is back in
town, and high on its
agenda is a foreign
aid bill for the upcoming
fiscal year.
The impending fight may
offer pro-Israel forces some
difficult choices as they seek
to pass a foreign aid bill that
protects Israel's $3.2 billion
annual allotment, without
cuts or new conditions.
The first stage in this has
already come with public
hearings on the foreign aid
bill before the foreign opera-
tions subcommittee of the
House Appropriations
Committee, the domain of
Rep. David Obey, D-Wis.
But the real question is
whether Mr. Obey will try to
get a foreign aid bill through
Congress at this time — or,
instead, opt for a continuing
resolution to keep the for-
eign aid program operating
until next March, safely past
the November elections.
And legislators will have
to decide whether to work
with the president's foreign
aid proposal. This lacks the
"earmarks" that protect
Israel's foreign aid allot-
ment that pro-Israel forces
crave. It also lacks expanded
aid for Africa, which many

Jewish groups groups.
One alternative is to try to
push through an substitute
measure, a risky strategy in
today's political climate. Or
to approve the administra-
tion's package in committee,
and then, on the House floor,
offer a less expensive
substitute bill that would
contain the earmarks and
the expanded African aid.
"The problem is to work
out something that can get
through the House — and
then, that can get through
the Senate, which is even
more problematic," said a
House staffer involved in the
Byzantine maneuvering.
"The key," he said, "is to
find a way past the political
problems that incumbents
will face in voting for foreign
spending. But the alter-
native — putting it off with a
continuing resolution — is
also risky, because nobody
knows how the next Con-
gress will shape up."

In normal political times,
postponement can effec-
tively get legislators off the
foreign-aid hook. But this
time, with up to 150 new
members entering the House
in January, Israel's friends
on Capitol Hill are very
wary about throwing them-
selves on the mercy of a
reconvened Congress.

Commence The
Platform Battles!

The Democratic party is
starting the arduous process
of hammering out a platform
that will satisfy its disparate
troops — an issue of no small
concern to Jewish activists
here.
Currently, there is a
strong, but quiet effort to af-
firm the "special relation-
ship" between Washington
and Jerusalem, and to avert
the kind of divisive battles
over statements critical of
Israel that characterized the
1988 platform process.
But Jewish groups do not
entirely agree about exactly
what the platform should
say on the Middle East peace
process.
Americans for Peace Now,
which backs the Israeli
peace movement, is pressing
for strong support of Israel.
But it also seeks strong
language committing the
Democrats to continue the
current peace talks.
The National Jewish
Democratic. Council, a group

of Jewish party activists, ex-
pects to testify at the open-
ing round of hearings in
Cleveland on May 18. It will
emphasize such domestic
issues as education and
church-state separation, as
well as urge a strong reaf-
firmation of the party's
commitment to Israel's
security.
But like Americans for
Peace Now, it will attempt to
keep the platform from ad-
dressing moving the U.S.
embassy from Tel Aviv.
Recently, pro-Israel
Democrats received an
unexpected boost when Rep.
Mary Rose Oakar, D-Ohio,
resigned as platform co-
chair.
Ms. Oakar, a persistent
critic of Israel who supports
the Palestinian cause, is one
of dozens of legislators fen-
ding off charges resulting
from the House banking
scandal. She quit the plat-
form position to concentrate
on her political problems.

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