The House of Representatives has given final approval to $582 million in back dues to the United Nations, and sent the measure to President Bush for his expected signature. Lawmakers hope the action will help boost diplomatic support for U.S. efforts to fight global terrorism.
The House approved the measure by voice vote. The Senate approved it last February. The measure had been hung up in the House by several disputes, notably House Republican Whip Tom DeLay's efforts to link it to a measure preventing U.S. cooperation with the International Criminal Court.
But Congressman Delay dropped his objections and House members quickly passed the measure, hoping their action would boost international support for U.S. efforts to crack down on terrorism.
Republican Congressman Henry Hyde is Chairman of the House International Relations Committee. He said, "Our actions on this measure are all the more important in light of the events on September 11. Meeting our financial obligations to the United Nations will help to ensure that our policy-makers can keep the focus on broad policies that unite the members of the Security Council in the fight against global terrorism."
The payment is the second and largest of three installments of back dues owed to the United Nations. Congress approved the first payment of $100 million in 1999.
The House has voted to freeze next year's installment of $244 million dollars until the United States regains its lost seat on the U.N. Human Rights Commission. The Senate has not acted on that issue.
The dispute over payment of back dues has strained relations between Washington and the United Nations for years.
In legislation passed in 1999, the United States vowed to pay back dues on condition the United Nations reform its bureaucracy and cut the financial burden on the United States.
In a deal brokered last year by former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, U.N. members agreed to reduce U.S. dues assessment from 25 percent to 22 percent of the $1 billion U.N. budget. The deal also reduced the U.S. assessment for peacekeeping from 31 percent to 26 percent by 2003.