The Senate voted 84-16 Thursday in support of President Clinton's request for $18 billion to help the International Monetary Fund weather the Asian financial crisis.
The vote, attaching the entire IMF package to an emergency spending bill for disaster relief and military operations, sets up an expected confrontation with the House.House Republican leaders have said they want to deal with the IMF issue separately. But Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who has called the Asian crisis the "El Nino of economics," said that failure to deal with the issue promptly would rock financial markets around the world.
Noting that the Dow Jones Industrial Average had been closing in on 9,000 points, Stevens declared, "If we don't act, the country better get ready for a slide on that."
A House version, not expected to see floor action until after the April recess, imposes much stricter conditions on the IMF loans.
The Senate, moving toward final approval of the midyear emergency spending package, also voted to bar the Interior secretary from approving gambling operations on Indian reservations unless approved by the state in which the reservation is located.
The IMF vote came a day after the Senate, upset over a $1.2 billion bill for back dues to the United Nations, called for a U.N. tally of the billions of dollars the United States has spent on its own enforcing Security Council resolutions since 1990.
The nonbinding measure, offered by Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and adopted 90-10 late Wednesday, also calls on the United Nations to "immediately reduce" the U.S. share of the cost of peacekeeping operations from about 30 percent to 25 percent.
The move came as the Senate continued working through a multi-billion-dollar midyear spending bill that includes money to help the Pentagon replenish funds it is using to maintain the military buildup in the Persian Gulf and operations in Bosnia.
The Senate bill, with a price tag of close to $5 billion, also includes disaster aid, mostly associated with damage from this winter's El Nino-driven storms and floods.