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abortion fight may block IMF funding

Clinton may have to bend on abortion to win IMF funds
Date: Tue Mar 03 20:05:34 CST 1998
         WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House Majority Leader Dick Armey
said Tuesday that the White House may have to negotiate with
lawmakers on unrelated anti-abortion issues to garner the votes
necessary for House approval of IMF bailout funds. 
         Armey, a Texas Republican, said efforts to reach a
majority of votes for IMF funding may require the Clinton
administration to accept restrictions that bar agencies from
using U.S. funds to lobby foreign governments to change their
abortion laws. 
         ``We are going to continue to press to relieve taxpayers
of the burden of that kind of use of their money every place
where we have an opportunity to do so,'' he said. 
         The Clinton administration wants Congress to approve $18
billion of additional funding for the IMF, which has faced
unprecedented demands for capital from big rescue deals for
Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea. 
         While IMF funding and anti-abortion legislation are not
necessarily linked, Armey said, the president has to make his
case to win the IMF bill and might fall short. 
         ``In so far as that as can be described as a link
between the two things, I think it is simply a matter of the hard
realities of getting your votes when you have not done your
job,'' to convince lawmakers to vote for the bill, Armey said. 
         There are concerns about the IMF bailout for reasons
related to the bank's handling of loans and reforms in other
governments, he added. ``There are an awful lot of people all
over (Congress) that have reservations about the IMF money on 
any number of terms. Some of us believe markets fix things better
than efforts to manage international financial affairs,'' he
         Armey noted that Congress is still waiting for President
Clinton to request the full fiscal 1998 supplemental
appropriation, which will include money for troops in Bosnia,
payments of arrears to the United Nations and possibly the IMF
Leading U.S. Democrat seen switching gears on IMF
Date: Tue Mar 03 22:30:43 CST 1998
         WASHINGTON, March 3 (Reuters) - The second-ranking
Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, David Bonior, may
switch gears and support an $18 billion package for the
International Monetary Fund if oversight is improved and
Washington presses for IMF reforms, his office said on Tuesday. 
         Minority Whip Bonior, who threatened in January to
oppose the funding and IMF bailouts for troubled Asian economies,
will support the package if the Clinton administration takes
steps to oversee the IMF and make it more accountable, Bonior's
spokeswoman Gretchen Kline said. 
         "He will not support it if these first steps are not
undertaken," Kline added. "We can't continue to support the
status quo." 
         Bonior's willingness to support the IMF package could
mark a breakthrough for the administration, which wants a
skeptical Congress to approve the IMF funding to replenish
resources drained by last year's multibillion-dollar bailouts for
Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand. 
         The left-leaning Michigan Democrat, who was instrumental
in last year's defeat of fast-track trade legislation, could help
the administration win IMF funding in the House. 
         House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt has already
joined the Clinton administration's IMF campaign. 
         New legislation by Bonior and four other lawmakers would
require the Treasury Department to create an advisory panel to
review IMF programs as a condition for U.S. funding. 
         The bill stops short of requiring sweeping changes at
the IMF, but would set up a 12-member panel to review IMF country
programs in an effort to ensure that labor rights and
environmental protection are considered. 
         The bill would also require the Treasury Secretary to
report twice each year to Congress about the IMF and Washington's
role in its programs. The reports would focus on IMF economic,
labor and environmental policies. 
         Portions of Bonior's bill may be worked into compromise
legislation in the House Banking Committee to fund and reform the
         Aides said the compromise would be hammered out by
Wednesday. The Clinton administration has been working with
leaders on the committee on the bill language, they said. 
         New York Rep. John LaFalce, the committee's ranking
Democrat, said the compromise would encourage the IMF to be more
flexible in its economic programs and urge the agency to focus
more on labor issues. 
         The banking committee is expected to vote on the
compromise legislation on Thursday.