U.S. foreign-aids programs technically ran out of money Wednesday, with the Senate poised to take up a stopgap aid bill to keep them going through September.
The House on Tuesday voted 275-131, a surprisingly wide margin, to extend aid at current levels to U.S. friends and allies around the world.But the action came only after the issue that had dominated earlier debate on the bill - $10 billion in loan guarantees for Israel - had been stripped away by an impasse over Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories.
The Senate was considering a separate, non-binding resolution stating its support for "appropriate" loan guarantees for Israel, and the administration agreed not to oppose it as a sop to supporters of the Jewish state.
While aid programs technically ran dry at midnight Tuesday, employees in the affected programs were expected to show up for work Wednesday in anticipation that the bill would be approved within a matter of hours.
Foreign aid spending has gone forward since last October under a stopgap spending bill planned to give Congress an opportunity to revisit the bill and authorize the guarantees. Israel has sought up to $10 billion in guarantees over the next five years to help in absorbing hundreds of thousands of new emigres from the former Soviet Union.
But the new aid, which seemed like a sure bet last fall, fell by the wayside over disputes between Jerusalem and the Bush administration about Israeli settlement building in the predominantly Palestinian occupied West Bank and Gaza strip.
Proponents still hoped the issue could be revived later this year or early in 1993, when political tensions in both countries have lessened.
The bill included authority for the administration to pirate other programs to provide aid to the former Soviet Union and paved the way for risk insurance for sales of U.S. products there through the Export-Import Bank. Officials anticipated using up to $150 million for new aid to the republics.
And it provided $270 million of the $350 million the administration had asked for United Nations peacekeeping activities this year. By far the largest chunk of that was $200 million for the U.S. share of a new peacekeeping force in Cambodia.