Mexico City Policy/Funding UNFPA: Smith Amendment
Update: August 1, 1997
Congress adjourned August 1 for its summer recess
The Smith Amendment includes the Mexico City Policy and the UNFPA anti-coercion funding prohibition. The Mexico City Policy, in effect from 1984 until overturned by President Clinton on January 22, 1993, stipulates that U.S. international family planning funds will not be available to private organizations that perform and promote abortion-on-demand in other countries. Pro-abortion advocates strongly oppose the Smith Amendment.
The House is preparing to vote on whether to include the Smith Amendment in the bill for next year's foreign aid appropriations (HR 2159). An opposition amendment that guts the Smith Amendment will be offered by Reps. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and others. Consideration of HR 2159 was put off until after the August recess. On the Senate side, the Smith Amendment was included in the introduced bill (S 955) but stripped in committee.
Update: September 12, 1997
The Senate returned from the August recess September 2, the House September 3.
The Smith Amendment restores the Mexico City Policy and upholds the UNFPA funding ban. Abortion advocates in the House sought to gut the Mexico City Policy but failed. After narrowly rejecting the Gilman second degree amendment, the House then adopted the Smith Amendment as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 98 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill (HR 2159).
The Foreign Operations Bill has passed both House and Senate. The Senate bill does not contain the language of the Smith Amendment. This difference must be resolved in conference committee. The President has threatened to veto bills that contain the Mexico City Policy.
Update: December 19, 1997
The First Session of the 105th Congress adjourned November 13, 1997.
Pro-life foreign aid policies were contested right up to the end of the First Session. In the final hours, the Fiscal Year 98 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, HR 2159, was passed by Congress and subsequently signed into law--but without the pro-life Mexico City Policy or the pro-life conditions for funding the UNFPA. Restoration of the Mexico City Policy was the focus of debate. The Clinton Administration was asked to accept a modified version of the Mexico City Policy in exchange for three items that the President wanted: up to $926 million for U.S. back payments to the United Nations, about 3.5 billion dollars for the International Monetary Fund, and a State Department reorganization plan. The President continued to threaten to veto any legislation that restored the Mexico City Policy. As a result, the final foreign aid bill contained neither the Mexico City Policy nor the three items desired by the President. The White House and Senate Democratic leaders also opposed passage of the Mexico City Policy and the three foreign aid items in a proposed omnibus appropriations bill.
The Republican leadership has stated that passage of the three foreign aid items is tied to restoration of the Mexico City Policy. It is anticipated that Congress will resume consideration of these issues early in the next session.
The Fiscal Year 98 appropriations measure provides $385 million for population assistance, available for immediate release at the rate of 1/12 of the total each month. (Other federal monies will also be available for international fertility control efforts.)