WASHINGTON — The House and the Senate voted today to impose trade sanctions against Iraq, including an end to the $1.2 billion in loan guarantees Baghdad receives to buy U.S. farm and commercial products, but the House measure would allow the penalties to be waived if they hurt American farmers.
Both houses attached amendments cutting off credit guarantees to the farm bill, which must still be passed by Congress before it can go to President Bush. The differences between the sanctions will be worked out by a conference committee.
The Administration opposes the sanctions on the grounds that they would only harm American farmers. But supporters of sanctions argue Iraq's record is so offensive that there is no reason to continue giving it any help.
U.S. officials have expressed concern about Iraqi attempts to obtain nuclear weapons and have accused Iraq of human rights abuses ranging from the torture of children to poison gas attacks against Iran and Iraq's Kurdish minority.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has threatened to "scorch half of Israel" with poison gas if it attacks Iraq, and he massed troops on the Kuwaiti border this month to force his Persian Gulf neighbor to agree to higher oil prices.
"He (Hussein) is a butcher, a torturer," said Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.), sponsor of the Senate amendment. "We've got to stand up at this point in time or the mad dog will go further and further."
The House approved sanctions 234 to 175 but then voted 208 to 191 to allow the Administration to waive them if they hurt U.S. farmers more than Iraq. The Senate voted 83 to 12 for the sanctions after killing a waiver proposal 57 to 38.
Both houses resounded with condemnation of Iraq, but strong concerns were raised that sanctions could hurt farmers.