1997 Scorecard Vote
Rapid global population growth is one of the most serious threats to a healthy and sustainable environment, leading to depletion of natural resources and contributing to pollution. The current world population is estimated at 5.8 billion. At the current growth rate, world human population grows by approximately one billion every 11 years.
For more than 30 years, the United States has contributed funds to voluntary family planning programs worldwide in order to help stabilize human population growth. In recent years, family planning opponents have cut federal funding for these programs by arguing in part that the money funds abortions. In fact, current law prohibits U.S. foreign assistance monies from funding abortion, and there are no reports that any organization receiving U.S. funds has ever violated this prohibition. In addition, family planning supporters note that improving access to voluntary family planning not only protects the life and health of women and children, it is also one of the best ways to reduce unwanted pregnancies.
During the 104th Congress (1995-96), opponents of family planning attempted to prohibit U.S. foreign aid to organizations that use non-U.S. government funds to provide legal abortion services or to participate in public policy debates on the issue in their own countries, even though current law already prohibits U.S. foreign assistance from funding abortion. Although unsuccessful in writing this prohibition into law, family planning opponents continued to insist that severe restrictions be placed on the release of population assistance funds in Fiscal Year 1997. In order to break a political deadlock that nearly shut down the federal government in September 1996, Congress agreed to a complicated legislative procedure. Under the deal, the release of the international family planning funds would be blocked for nine months -- until July 1997 -- unless the President made a finding that the delay in releasing funds was having a negative impact on overseas family planning programs, and unless this finding was approved by a vote of both houses of Congress. If the President's finding was approved by Congress, funds could begin flowing on March 1.
President Clinton made the required finding on January 31, 1997. H.J. Res. 36 provides Congressional approval of that finding, allowing the blocked international family planning aid monies to be released on March 1, 1997. During debate on H.J. Res. 36, family planning opponents violated the procedure agreed to the previous year and worked to overturn the President's determination, again attempting to entangle the family planning funding decision in the politics of abortion.
On February 13, 1997, the House passed H.J. Res. 36, 220 - 209. YES is the pro-environment vote.
The Senate passed H.J. Res. 36 on February 25, 1997, and President Clinton signed it on February 29, 1997, releasing the money to be available on March 1.