Congress passes foreign aid bill $3 billion to Israel

WASHINGTON — Both houses of Congress have approved a $13 billion foreign aid bill that includes more than $3 billion for Israel and $2.1 billion for Egypt.

President Clinton was expected to sign the long-awaited measure, which passed only after lawmakers agreed to strip controversial anti-abortion clauses.

The annual spending bill passed last Thursday includes a symbolic ban on direct U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority. It is symbolic because the United States delivers virtually all of its $100 million in annual U.S. aid to the Palestinians through non-governmental organizations.

The measure also allows President Clinton to reopen the Palestinian Authority's office in Washington. The office has operated unofficially for two months because Congress allowed a law to expire that waives decades-old restrictions on the Palestinians.

Under an agreement with the White House, Israel will return $50 million of its aid, which the United States will then send to Jordan. Egypt will also contribute $50 million for Jordan, bringing Jordan's total aid package to $225 million.

Former Soviet states are slated to receive $770 million.

In an 11th-hour compromise, House Republicans agreed to drop an amendment that bars U.S. aid to international family planning groups that use private money for overseas abortions or lobby to liberalize foreign abortion laws. The bill contains $385 million for such programs.

In exchange, Congress removed more than $900 million slated to pay off the U.S. debt to the United Nations, a move that was certain to anger U.S. allies who have been pressing America to pay off its debt.