House passes ban on Mexico-style economic bailouts

THE BALTIMORE SUN

WASHINGTON -- Five months after the Clinton administration shored up the Mexican economy with an infusion of U.S. dollars, a bipartisan House majority expressed its opposition to the policy yesterday by voting to cut off money to administer similar bailouts in the future.

The House voted 245-183 to approve an amendment by independent Rep. Bernard Sanders of Vermont to prohibit the use of funds for the salaries of employees running the Exchange Stabilization Fund, the special fund being used to help Mexico. The amendment would not take effect until Oct. 1, so it would not alter the current aid program, according to Bill Goold, a Sanders aide.

Joining Mr. Sanders in voting for the amendment were 156 Republicans and 88 Democrats.

The amendment was attached to legislation approved on a vote of 216-211 late yesterday that would appropriate funds for the Treasury Department, the U.S. Postal Service and other federal agencies in the coming fiscal year.

Representatives who opposed the amendment said that they considered it wrong to use an appropriations bill to set major policy.

Although the measure enjoyed broad House support, major hurdles remain -- including in the Senate.

In another House vote, a ban on taxpayer-supported abortions for federal workers passed yesterday. Pushed by conservatives, lawmakers voted 235-188 to prohibit civil servants' health-care plans from covering abortions unless the woman's life was at stake.

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