- The Washington Times - Monday, November 19, 2001

The deal Senate and House negotiators struck on the foreign aid bill is threatened by Republican representatives who say it gives too much money to the U.N. Population Fund, which they accuse of complicity in China's "one-child-per-family" policy and forced abortions.
The disagreement is holding up final passage of the bill, which includes $15.3 billion in funds and covers everything from military aid to human rights policies to some issues related to the war on terrorism.
Unlike years past when the debate was whether to contribute to the population fund at all, this year the White House, the House and the Senate each supported funding $25 million in the House version of the bill and $40 million in the Senate version.
The fund runs clinics and provides education and assistance for family planning, treating and preventing sexually transmitted diseases, and gynecological care. From 1986 to 1992, the United States contributed nothing to the fund. Funding was restored in 1993, topped out at $40 million in 1994 and has been $25 million the past two years.
House and Senate negotiators said they struck a balance this year with a $37.5 million contribution to the fund closer to the Senate's figure in exchange for the Senate dropping its amendment that would have overturned the "Mexico City policy." The policy, which critics call the "gag rule," prohibits the United States from contributing to overseas family planning groups that provide or counsel women about abortions.
But when Rep. Jim Kolbe, Arizona Republican, presented the deal to his colleagues, Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican, and others balked, arguing that the House conceded too much for an organization some would rather not fund at all.
"Twenty-five million dollars is $25 million too much, but it's certainly not $34 million or $39 million or some other number," Mr. Smith said. "They certainly shouldn't be getting an increase when they are flaunting coercion while pretending to embrace volunteerism."
He said the population fund has "aided and abetted" communist China's policies, in which the central authorities have set quotas for population growth for certain regions. In some cases local authorities, in order to meet their quotas, have forced population control, including abortion.
But Corrie Shanahan, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Population Fund in New York, said the agency works only in areas where the one-child policy has been suspended.
"That's the basis for us working there. We would not want to, nor would our mandate allow us to, work there if that was not the case," she said.
The fund's supporters say rather than aiding China's policy, the fund has the best chance of proving that population growth can be controlled without coercive policies and forced abortions.
"It has been the United Nations Population Fund that has been consistently at the forefront of trying to oppose coercion and provide choice instead," said Rep. James C. Greenwood, Pennsylvania Republican.
For now, House Republican leaders have sent Mr. Kolbe back to negotiate a lower U.S. contribution. Several lawmakers and aides said the end result likely will be a compromise in which the Senate agrees to lessen the amount another million dollars or so.
Senate negotiators say they already have given up a lot by relenting on the Mexico City policy. But they were unlikely to win that fight anyway since President Bush has said he would veto the bill if it overturned the policy.
The Senate did concede on another matter it agreed to leave in a penalty provision levied against the population fund as long as it was active in China. That means that though the bill allocates $37.5 million this year, it will disburse only $34 million to the fund. Last year, even though the budget promised $25 million, the fund received only $21.5 million.


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