The Senate, upset over a $1.2 billion bill for back dues to the United Nations, is calling 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.Helms told the Senate that U.S. costs of confronting Saddam Hussein in Iraq and supporting peacekeeping operations in Bosnia far surpass the arrearages in U.N. dues, which he called "money which we do not owe and should never pay."
"Yet the U.N. crybabies continue to whine," said Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The move came as the Senate continued working through a multibillion-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.
The Senate was expected to finish it Thursday after debating a move to combine it with a separate spending bill responding to the Clinton administration's request for $18 billion for the International Monetary Fund.
A House version of the bill has drawn sharp criticism from Democrats - and a veto threat from the White House - because it seeks to pay for some $3 billion in disaster and military programs with cuts in domestic spending programs, including President Clinton's pet AmeriCorps program.
That "threatens to elevate politics above the needs of our troops in the field and those who have been the victims of natural disasters at home," said Clinton's budget director, Franklin Raines. And Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said a Clinton veto "would be likely" if such a strategy prevails.
The House votes on the bill next week.