An anticipated abortion dispute in Congress, led by Republican Rep. Chris Smith of N.J., may jeopardize the Clinton administration’s plan to repay United Nations debt and restructure U.S. foreign policy organization through the State Department authorization bill. The authorization bill, which was discussed and partially agreed-upon in a House-Senate conference last month and may come up in the House again this week, would bring the U.S. Information Agency and the Arms Control Agency under the State Department and allocate $819 million for repayment of U.S. debt to the United Nations.
The portion of the bill that is in contention is a measure that concerns funding for family planning organizations that practice or advocate abortion. Smith would like to reinstate the former “Mexico City” provision by amending the State Department authorization bill. The Mexico City provision, strictly enforced by the Bush and Reagan administrations and then abolished by Clinton in 1993, bars the use of U.S. funds for international family planning organizations that perform or advocate abortions. If the House-Senate approves the “Mexico City” language suggested by Smith, Clinton will likely veto the bill.