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Clinton's IMF Proposal Earns Tentative Approval in Congress

By Helen Dewar
and George Hager
The Washington Post

Key House and Senate Republicans have reached tentative agreement with the White House on terms for approval of President Clinton's $18 billion request to help the International Monetary Fund deal with the global financial crisis, congressional officials said Monday.

The terms, demanded by House Republicans as a condition for approval of the president's full request, include greater openness in IMF operations and new restrictions on its loan practices, officials said.

The administration has made IMF funding a top priority for the final days of the 105th Congress, arguing that its approval is vital to efforts by the United States to cope with the world financial crisis. Approval of the $18 billion on terms agreeable to the administration would be a major victory for the administration.

While some details are still being ironed out and final agreement will not be reached until an omnibus government spending bill is firmed up later this week, the framework for an IMF accord seems now in hand, lawmakers said. "The broad outlines have been agreed to," said Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., chairman of the Joint Economic Committee.

Meanwhile, amid indications that negotiators were getting closer on other issues, Congress passed another short-term funding bill to give negotiators two more days to talk.

Both the House and Senate approved the measure by voice vote. It would provide continued spending through midnight Wednesday for the numerous government agencies whose yearlong funding is contingent on the eight spending bills still unfinished on Capitol Hill.

Negotiators are working to piece together a sprawling "omnibus" bill that would sweep in the eight unfinished spending bills, a package of emergency spending for Bosnia, defense readiness and other matters, and possibly a tax package that could include extensions of expiring tax breaks.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said he expects the Senate could vote as early as late Tuesday afternoon on a final budget deal, though he said a vote was more likely on Wednesday.