- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2002

The House Appropriations Committee yesterday rejected an attempt to add amnesty for some illegal immigrants to the supplemental emergency spending bill.
But the panel postponed until today a possibly bill-killing amendment to direct $34 million to the U.N. Population Fund.
The whole bill would spend $30 billion about half of it for military needs, and a quarter for domestic security and expenses following September 11, including the final installment of the president's promise of $20 billion to rebuild New York City.
The bill includes the first installment of election-reform money to buy out punch-card voting machines, money for Pell Grants, and $200 million for Israel and another $50 million for humanitarian aid to Palestinians.
Those provisions have wide approval, but a series of amendments has slowed the bill's progress before the committee.
The amnesty amendment lost on a 32-27 vote. It would have let some people who entered the United States illegally or who have overstayed their entry visas gain legal status while they apply for a green card.
The failed amendment also would have allowed, until Nov. 30, 2002, applicants to stay while their residency application is pending if they have a job or a qualifying family relationship.
Such people currently have to return home and wait up to 10 years before applying.
Proponents said the amendment was a family values vote since it would prevent families from being split during the process.
"These are folks who are living here, working here or married with families, but who under current law would have to leave the country to apply," said Rep. Jose E. Serrano, New York Democrat.
But opponents said it amounted to rewarding illegal aliens.
"It is absolutely the wrong message to say if you can get in illegally, we're going to give you an amnesty and you can stay," said Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr., Virginia independent.
Four Republicans voted for the amendment and two Democrats voted against it, as did Mr. Goode.
The population fund vote centers on China's use of U.N. Population Fund money.
In a 32-31 vote Thursday, the committee passed an amendment that says if President Bush certifies China does not use the fund's money for forced abortions or sterilizations, he must release $34 million in U.S. contributions to the U.N. fund.
But Republican leaders now say this is unacceptable and are threatening to kill the supplemental bill. Instead, they want an amendment to say Mr. Bush may release up to $34 million, at his discretion.
"My guess is if you don't fix it, you don't pass the supplemental it's a big deal," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican. "It is seen by a very large number of members on both sides of the aisle as a pro-abortion provision" on a spending bill.
On legislation like this the House first must pass a resolution with rules for debating and amending the spending bill, then move on to the bill itself. Without a rule, the bill cannot reach the floor.
But Republican leadership aides said Democrats will probably vote against the Republican-written rule on partisan principle. They also expect some conservative Republicans to join the Democrats as a way to defeat the population fund money.
Yesterday afternoon Republican leaders were trying to find a compromise that preserved the current law, which gives Mr. Bush leeway to spend up to $34 million. Still, most Democrats on the committee, joined by a handful of Republicans, were sticking by the original amendment, according to spokesmen.
Mr. Armey, who schedules legislation for the House floor, said the spending bill will be up for a vote next week.
Senators in both parties said that doesn't give them enough time to finish the bill before the Memorial Day recess, meaning the bill may not get to the president's desk until two weeks later.


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