WASHINGTON — Rep. Tony Coelho (D-Merced) said Saturday that the White House--instead of promoting peace in Central America--is seeking new money for the Nicaraguan Contras.
Coelho, delivering the Democratic response to President Reagan's weekly radio address, said: "This Thanksgiving week, the President's new national security adviser (Lt. Gen. Colin L. Powell) went to Congress demanding new money for airplanes, helicopters and supplies so that the Contras can step up the war."
In an interview Saturday, Rep. David E. Bonior (D-Mich.), an opponent of aid to the Contras, said Administration officials "have come up and they have talked" about a $30-million package that he said would be used to strengthen the Contra air force.
But a Republican congressional aide said aircraft used to drop food and other life-supporting items are viewed as non-military.
Coelho also called on Reagan to work with Congress to ensure U.S. trade competitiveness abroad. In addition to the recent budget accord, he said, an ambitious trade program is "making a down payment on competitiveness that will last long into the next century."