Fiscal Hawks Relent on Foreign Aid Cuts: Supporters More Vocal Than in '94

By Roman, Nancy E. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 17, 1997 | Go to article overview

Fiscal Hawks Relent on Foreign Aid Cuts: Supporters More Vocal Than in '94


Roman, Nancy E., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


More fiscally conservative congressional Republicans are concluding that more money - not less - must be spent on foreign aid if the United States is to remain a superpower.

This attitude is one reason Democratic friends of foreign aid are optimistic that there may be enough support to stem the decline in the financing of these politically unpopular programs.

"We need to understand that we have cut foreign aid dramatically, and we better be aware that we still have responsibilities throughout the world," said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican. "I can cite many cases where foreign aid made a huge difference. Egypt and Israel are sacrosanct."

He said Latin America needs more assistance: "You can make a case for helping some of these countries' economies, that it is in the United States' interest."

Rep. John Linder, Georgia Republican and chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, said the return on the 1 percent of the federal budget spent on aid is immeasurable.

"It's a very inexpensive investment," he said. "It is in our national interest to make sure that people in the Soviet nations can live in peace. I don't have any trouble defending these things."

This is a big change from just two years ago, when the GOP laid out a budget that cut foreign aid from $23 billion to $14 billion over six years and the dominant sentiment was not to give more until the budget was balanced.

"There is a sense that we've cut too far," said an aide with the Senate Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on foreign operations. "When you are trying to finance a couple-million-dollar project in a country that is key to our security and we don't have the money to do it, you've cut too far."

Democrats who support foreign aid are more vocal, too, emboldened by President Clinton's budget request for $19.45 billion for the foreign aid account. About $7.2 billion of that is for the Agency for International Development, up $488 million from last year.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican and chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, which controls the foreign aid budget, supports the president's request.

Supporters of foreign aid are also encouraged by Secretary of State Madeleine K. …

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