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Measure Could Require Half of U.N. Dues to Be Withheld

June 09, 2005|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Ignoring the Bush administration's pleas, a House committee approved a bill Wednesday that would withhold one-half of U.S. dues to the United Nations unless the U.N. made specific changes.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), was approved 25 to 22. An alternative from Democrats on the House International Relations Committee was rejected 24 to 23.

The big difference between the two bills was whether dues cuts should be mandatory, as recommended by Hyde, or left to the discretion of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The administration wants to retain the flexibility of deciding whether to withhold dues.

"You can't have reform unless you withhold dues," Hyde said. The committee chairman expressed doubt that Rice would order such cuts.

Under the Democratic version, introduced by Rep. Tom Lantos of San Mateo, Rice would have the authority to withhold up to 50% of U.S. dues, depending on her assessment of U.N. changes over the next two years.

The U.S. is the biggest financial contributor to the U.N., paying about 22% of the annual $2-billion general budget. Some in Congress, especially Republicans, question whether the U.N. promotes U.S. interests.

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