By Pete Kasperowicz
 
Washington, July 21

The House Foreign Affairs Committee worked late Wednesday night and into early Thursday morning on the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, and much of the work involved accepting amendments that would significantly limit U.S. foreign aid and improve the transparency of foreign aid programs.

By the time it adjourned at about 2 a.m. Thursday, the committee accepted two amendments that would cut off aid to specific countries. One, from Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), would prohibit the use of funds for any program in Argentina, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador or Bolivia.

The other, from Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), would prohibit any foreign assistance to countries that oppose the U.S. in the United Nations.

The committee reconvened at 9:15 a.m. to consider more amendments, including one from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) that would limit assistance to Pakistan, a response to congressional complaints that the nation failed to fully aid the U.S. in finding Osama bin Laden. However, committee members rejected this amendment 5-39.

Last night, the committee accepted two amendments from Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas). One would require the State Department to publicly list all foreign aid programs, money spent on these programs and other information. Duncan co-sponsored that amendment.

Poe's other amendment would require an evaluation of the effectiveness of these foreign aid programs.

The committee also approved an amendment from Duncan requiring the government to make public a list of companies and other entities that receive U.S. foreign aid.

The committee accepted language from House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Howard Berman (D-Calif.) that would set goals for foreign aid programs, such as ending poverty and supporting human rights and democracy.

On Thursday morning, committee members also considered a Berman amendment to strike the so-called Mexico City language in the bill, which prohibits aid to groups that promote or perform abortions overseas. But they rejected his proposal.

After committee passage, the bill would still need to be approved by the entire House.

To read the entire article in the The Hill please click here.

ó This story was updated at 10:05 a.m. to reflect votes on amendments from Rohrabacher and Berman.