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Roll Call

The House : Contra Aid Freeze

March 19, 1987

The House voted 230 to 196 to withhold $40 million in U. S. aid to the American-backed rebels, called contras , in Nicaragua until the Administration accounts for appropriations and other money already made available to them.

In part, the legislation (HJ Res 175) gives President Reagan six months to account for up to $27 million in fiscal 1985 contra aid that reportedly vanished, and to try to explain allegations that Iran arms-sales profits were diverted to the anti-Communist guerrillas.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on a similar attempt to freeze the $40 million, which is the final payment of a $100-million contra -aid package approved last year by Congress.

Reagan has the House and Senate backing he needs to successfully veto these freeze attempts. But Democratic leaders say they can block any new contra aid requests by the president.

Supporter Thomas M. Foglietta (D-Pa.) said the freeze "will force the Administration to come clean with its contra activities."

Opponent Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) called the aid embargo an "inexcusable retreat from a firm, workable U. S. policy toward Central America."

Members voting yes wanted to withhold the $40 million in contra aid.

How They Voted Yea Nay No vote Rep. Beilenson (D) x Rep. Berman (D) x Rep. Dixon (D) x Rep. Levine (D) x Rep. Waxman (D) x

Closed Contra Rule

By a 227-198 vote, the House approved a closed parliamentary rule (H Res 116) for debating whether to freeze the $40 million in fiscal 1987 contra aid (above). This was a victory for Democratic-led foes of the aid because the rule precluded Republican amendments that, after open debate and record votes, might have shaken free the $40 million.

For example, GOP backers of the contras wanted to force the House to stick with its previously approved position that the $40 million be released automatically unless Congress voted to disapprove it.

Adoption of the narrow rule enabled Democrats to try to embarrass President Reagan by linking the release of the $40 million to the Iran arms scandal.

Supporter Mel Levine (D-Calif.) said that in periodic House debates on contra aid, the Democratic leadership "has bent over backwards" to protect the minority rights of Republicans.

Opponent John Edward Porter (R-Ill.) said, "This rule shuts off debate on one of the most important foreign policy decisions of the century."

Members voting yes favored the closed rule.

How They Voted Yea Nay No vote Rep. Beilenson (D) x Rep. Berman (D) x Rep. Dixon (D) x Rep. Levine (D) x Rep. Waxman (D) x

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