Senate Approves $18 Billion for IMF
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A key Senate committee approved $18 billion in fresh IMF funding Tuesday, setting up a likely battle with House lawmakers who oppose giving more money to an organization they consider mismanaged.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, said replenishing the International Monetary Fund is necessary to help it save troubled economies across Asia and in Russia, and a refusal to approve the Clinton administration’s $18 billion IMF request could damage the U.S. economy.
``If the global economy goes sour, our economy will go sour,″ Stevens warned. ``This is an international commitment the United States must keep.″
The $18 billion was attached to a $12.6 billion foreign operations bill the Senate Appropriations Committee sent to the full Senate for approval. The Senate approved a separate IMF measure in March, but that has languished in the House.
The House version of the foreign operations bill doesn’t contain the full funding. Instead, a House Appropriations subcommittee set aside only $3.4 billion for the IMF. The full committee is expected to take up the measure Wednesday. Differences between House and Senate versions would be resolved by a conference committee.
Some GOP leaders have suggested the full House Appropriations Committee might restore the $18 billion for the IMF, but House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, vowed Monday to ``defeat it on the floor″ if necessary.
``It would come to the floor under the most rigorous terms of contest,″ Armey said.
IMF critic Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, contended the IMF had $75 billion to $96 billion in reserves, including gold.
But Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., who is on the committee approving the IMF funding, compared the reserves to a bank’s equity that shouldn’t be touched.
``I don’t think we have good reason not to replenish the IMF,″ Domenici said, urging senators ``to stick to our guns″ and get IMF funding approved.
Sen. Lauch Faircloth, R-N.C., the committee’s only senator who opposed the IMF funding, said the organization wastes American taxpayers’ money.
``Where and when will the bailouts stop?″ he asked. ``As long as we provide more funds for the IMF, we do not know when the bailouts will end.″
IMF critics want conditions and restrictions attached to the money such as requiring the IMF to publicly disclose minutes of its meetings and budget details, and to end below-market subsidized loans to regular borrowers.
The Senate measure calls for more IMF reporting on bailouts and a conference to study possible IMF reforms, among other things.
The latest IMF bailout came Monday when Russia agreed to economic reforms as a condition for receiving an $11.2 billion loan.
The $12.6 billion foreign operations bill sent to the Senate for approval for fiscal year 1999, beginning Oct. 1, maintains nearly the same level of funding as last year, but is $1 billion less than President Clinton requested.
The measure includes:
_$740 million for states of the former Soviet Union, setting aside $210 million for Ukraine, $90 million for Armenia and $95 million for Georgia.
_$432.5 million for Eastern Europe and the Baltics, capping assistance for Bosnia at $200 million.
_$15.3 million for the Baltics to continue NATO modernization.
_About $3 billion for Israel with economic aid reduced and ``security assistance″ increased in near equal measure. Egypt would get $2.1 billion and Jordan $150 million.
_$800 million for the World Bank, although funds wouldn’t be available until the General Accounting Office completes an audit of the bank.