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GOP Senators angered by unapproved
- Subject: GOP Senators angered by unapproved
- From: FreeBurma@xxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 13:32:00
Subject: GOP Senators angered by unapproved changed to aid bill
Attn: Burma Newsreaders
Re: GOP Senators angered by unapproved changed to aid bill
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
c.1995 N.Y. Times News Service
A disagreement has broken out among Senate Republicans over an amendment
quietly stuck into the foreign aid bill that would withdraw
most-favored-nation trading status to any country that does not back
sanctions against the Burmese military government.
While floor managers of bills often insert amendments that have unanimous
support, several lawmakers criticized Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who
managed the foreign aid bill, for inserting an amendment, without unanimous
backing, that could have huge repercussions.
Several lawmakers said the bill could, for instance, cut off China's
most-favored status because Beijing does not honor sanctions against Burma.
After the Senate approved the bill last Thursday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.,
a leader on foreign policy, took to the Senate floor to attack the way the
amendment on Burma was inserted.
``I was quite upset about it and thought it was highly inappropriate to do
it,'' McCain said in an interview. ``I have a special concern about Burma -
60 percent of the heroin coming to the United States comes through Burma -
and if there was an amendment on the issue, I wanted to be involved in the
Joining this unusual intraparty feud, Sen. William Roth, R-Del., who is
chairman of the Finance Committee, wrote a letter to McConnell expressing his
great disappointment with the amendment. Roth complained not only that the
provision involved matters that were the jurisdiction of his committee, but
also that its call for withdrawing most-favored-nation trading status would
violate trade treaties.
In an interview Wednesday, McConnell said he inserted the amendment without a
vote to apply some quick pressure on the Burmese military dictatorship. The
foreign aid bill, approved 91 votes to 9, would cut overseas assistance by 10
In addition to calling for suspending trade privileges to countries that do
not honor sanctions against Burma, McConnell's amendment calls for banning
travel to Burma, barring Burmese imports and withholding money to the
International Monetary Fund if it provides aid to Burma.
``I do think there is some urgency about this - the situation there is quite
terrible,'' McConnell said. ``I thought it would be helpful to the situation
in Burma to have some language in the bill.''
He called McCain late Wednesday to say he would move to delete the amendment
when House and Senate lawmakers meet to rework the bill in conference.
Nonetheless, McConnell vowed to continue trying to pressure Burma and ``fight
this another day and soon.''
Several Republican Senate aides said they had been reassured by Robin
Cleveland, a top aide to McConnell, that no Burma amendment would be put into
the foreign aid bill.
Several Republican aides said they were stunned to learn that a Burma
amendment had been inserted into the overall bill, especially since several
senators had expressed reservations about a bill on Burma that McConnell had
been floating for several months.
McConnell defended his decision to insert the amendment. Speaking about
McCain, he said, ``What was unusual was that John wanted to clear every
amendment we handled,'' he said. ``That's just not possible. You can't manage
a bill that way.''
But a senior Republican aide said, ``It violates all Senate rules of
tradition and comity to surreptitiously insert an important amendment that
does not have unanimous consent.''<