Supplemental defense funds OK'd by conferees

April 06, 1995|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- House and Senate conferees agreed yesterday to a $3.1 billion supplemental defense appropriations bill requested by the White House, but they unexpectedly added a Republican-drafted provision that threatens to cut off all future loans and guarantees to Mexico.

The sponsor of the amendment, Rep. Christopher Cox of California, said it was in retaliation for President Clinton's refusal to provide detailed information on his financial aid plan for Mexico that Congress demanded a month ago.

The measure, which would need the approval of the House and Senate, would take effect only if the administration failed to make the documents available. "Given their lack of compliance so far, I am skeptical that they can comply," Mr. Cox said in a telephone interview.

The administration was already facing a Friday deadline to provide a broad range of documents, many of them classified, about contacts with the Mexican government and the past use of the Exchange Stabilization Fund, which Mr. Clinton drew upon to provide the aid without congressional approval.

The fund operates under his discretion, and it is ordinarily used to stabilize the dollar in foreign exchange markets.

An administration official said that he expected that various agencies of the government, from the Treasury to the White House, would be in "substantial compliance" with the mandate by the weekend. "This is a bit broader," the official said, "but nothing we can't work with."

By attaching the provision, the Republicans appeared to be trying to increase pressure on the White House, which has urged quick passage of the military spending bill.

But administration officials said last night that it was possible that the passage of the amendment could defuse some of the pressure on the Senate over a far tougher amendment that Sen. Alfonse D'Amato has introduced to cut off all further aid to Mexico. The New York Republican has been trying to bring his provision to the Senate floor for two days.

Mr. Clinton authorized a $20 billion loan in January through the Exchange Stabilization Fund to help stabilize the Mexican peso. He acted on his own after opposition mounted in Congress to an earlier plan that required its approval.

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