Senate Eases Abortion Language on U.N. Bill, but Veto Likely

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Republicans have once more softened anti-abortion language in the bill to pay almost $1 billion in U.N. arrears, but President Clinton is still expected to veto the bill rather than risk angering his pro-choice supporters.

The Senate is expected to approve the controversial measure today along party lines and to send it to the president for his signature or veto.

The Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 passed the House on March 26 on a voice vote after anti-abortion language the administration found objectionable was softened to allow U.S. aid to go to family planning groups that participate in, but do not sponsor, pro-abortion lobbying efforts.

Nevertheless, pro-choice organizations said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, had received a letter from the White House in March pledging a presidential veto if the watered-down anti-abortion language survived.

"The letter said unequivocally that it would be vetoed if it was passed and presented to the president," said a senior Democratic aide who has seen the letter.

The letter to Mrs. Pelosi was written by Larry Stein, assistant to the president and director for legislative affairs.

The bill illustrates the clash between divisive domestic political considerations and bipartisan foreign policy goals, said several Hill Republicans.

"The Clinton administration is willing to sacrifice foreign policy to protect the right of International Planned Parenthood to lobby foreign governments to change their abortion laws," said a Senate staff member close to the negotiations on condition of anonymity.

The National Organization for Women "is polling its members to see if they want to support Paula Jones," he said. "The Clinton administration won't do anything now to make the pro-abortion movement feel any less vested."

As agreed upon in a historic bipartisan compromise last summer between Sens. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, and Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, the bill would provide for $819 million to be paid in U.N. arrears over the next three years and cut the U.N. bureaucracy by 1,000 jobs.

In addition, the bill offers the United Nations an additional $107 million in debt forgiveness. …