House bill aims for foreign aid restrictions

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a foreign aid bill that would restrict President Barack Obama’s authority on providing U.S. taxpayer dollars to Pakistan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority while cutting money for international organizations.

The legislation would provide $47.2 billion in the next budget year, including $7.6 billion for the Global War on Terror fund. That money pays for security forces and police in Iraq and backs up civilian programs for counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan. The overall bill is $8.6 billion less than current spending.

Reviving a divisive policy, the bill would ban federal money from going to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide abortion information, counseling or referrals.

The policy has bounced in and out of law for the past quarter century since Republican President Ronald Reagan first adopted it 1984. Democrat Bill Clinton ended the ban in 1993, but Republican George W. Bush re-instituted it in 2001 as one of his first acts in office. Within days of his inauguration, Obama reversed the policy.

“It is unacceptable that the majority proposes to reinstate the global gag rule, which prohibits recipients of U.S. health assistance from providing the most truthful and comprehensive health care possible to women in need,” said Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations.

The bill would bar civilian and security aid to Pakistan unless the U.S. secretary of state can certify to Congress that Islamabad is pursuing terrorists and helping investigate how al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden managed to hide for years inside Pakistan.

The measure presses the Obama administration for evidence of cooperation in the terror war by Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen and the Palestinian Authority before providing U.S. aid.

“We have established tough oversight and accountability measures that will make sure my constituents’ tax dollars are not wasted overseas while making sure we support our national security priorities and key allies,” said Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, chairwoman of the subcommittee.

The bill would cut U.S. contributions to the United Nations and trim spending for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The subcommittee will consider the legislation today.

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