By Harry Valentine.
Pro-life forces in the House and Senate succeeded in tying payment of so-called United Nations "arrearages" to a measure banning use of U.S. funds to lobby foreign governments to liberalise abortion laws, a major activity of international "family planning" organisations. The Foreign Affairs Reform & Restructuring Act (HR 1757) is filled with features requested by the Clinton Administration, but the President, more committed to expanding abortion than to achieving other foreign policy goals, has vowed to veto the bill. Approved by the House last month, the Conference bill passed by a slim 51-49 vote in the Senate, April 28. While authorising payment of $819 million in "back dues" it also requires the U.N. to undertake substantial reforms.
Many Christian groups have opposed the bill outright, saying we owe nothing to the U.N. considering the billions we've spent supporting U.N. peacekeeping operations (for which we have been credited next to nothing against our "back dues"). The pro-life language is weak and may be undermined by an ardently pro-abortion administration. They also believe that organisations (e.g. International Planned Parenthood Federation), whose pro-abortion activities this ban would supposedly abate, are dishonest at the core and will come up with ways around the ban.
Ardent pro-life legislators who crafted the compromise, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Sen Jesse Helms (R-NC) & others, have been heavily criticised by their own camps for weakening pro-life provisions. Many Christians ask, "Should the U.S. pay almost $1 billion to a morally-bankrupt, fatally-flawed organisation such as the U.N. at all?" "Should we 'trade' $billions to an anti-American organisation which will fund more activities harmful to America in exchange for a toothless, unenforceable abortion lobby funding ban?" "Is this a total sham?"
Given the lack of courage in the Republican Congressional leadership, it is inconceivable that money for the United Nations will not be authorised in some way. The Republican majority controlling Congress has shown a surprising unwillingness to use its power. Therefore, with all its flaws, this bill may be our best hope. However, the President cannot "force" Congress to spend a single penny. If President Clinton makes good on his threat to veto the U.N. bill, Congress should simply say, "No money for the U.N. this year," and go about its business. Statements by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and Sen. Helms (chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee) suggest Senate Republican leaders may be willing to do just that.
Prayer Target: May God give Republican leaders courage to KEEP THEIR PROMISE not to fund the U.N. if President Clinton vetoes this bill (Josh.1:7-8; Ps.15:1-4).
Harry Valentine is Director of "Sound the Trumpet Ministries" which publishes "The Capital Hill Prayer Alert" from 325 Pennsylvania Ave, S.E., Washington, DC 20003, USA. Telephone (703) 754-3629; Fax (703) 754 3838.