Senator Gregg withdraws opposition to Kosovo peacekeeping funds
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg on Thursday released his "hold" on $40.1 million that had been appropriated to pay for the U.S. portion of peacekeeping expenses in Kosovo. The hold had been in place for more than a month.
The Republican senator had been exercising his prerogatives as chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that allocates spending for the State Department to delay the release of the funds because of his concerns over the conduct of the peacekeeping missions.
Gregg's procedural tactic was largely symbolic, as the peacekeeping funds by law could not be held up by Congress, although the executive branch traditionally waits for approval from congressional appropriators before spending money.
Gregg spokesman Ed Amarosi said the senator decided to withdraw his opposition because of last week's Senate vote on Kosovo. During that vote, lawmakers killed a measure that would have cut all U.S. funding for the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo by the middle of next year without specific authorization by Congress.
The withdrawal language, included in the regularly routine annual
spending bill covering military construction projects, would have placed the next president in the difficult position of having to submit information by July 1, 2001, detailing the "shared burden" between the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization partners on Kosovo.
Gregg met Wednesday in Washington with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke to discuss four "holds" on a total of $300 million in peacekeeping funding for missions in Kosovo, East Timor, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.
Amarosi described the encounter as "a good meeting" and said that Gregg was receptive to Holbrooke's proposals to ease Republican concerns over U.S. spending on overseas peacekeeping missions.
However, Gregg also vowed to keep the other "holds" in place until he received assurances that Holbrooke's proposals would be supported by the United Nations and the State Department.