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May 4, 1990
The U.S. Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the nation's Catholic Bishops, strongly supports efforts to remove abortion and capital punishment provisions from H.R. 4404, which appropriates much needed assistance to Panama and Nicaragua, and we support both the House and Senate versions' appropriation of $100 million for refugee assistance and resettlement.
The economic needs of the people of Panama and Nicaragua are extremely urgent; their situation has been exacerbated by past U.S. sanctions against these poor and vulnerable Central American nations. The U.S. has an unavoidable responsibility to respond quickly and compassionately with significant economic assistance. The addition of these extraneous matters could jeopardize the legislation and will likely further delay the necessary assistance to Panama and Nicaragua.
In addition, we strongly oppose both the abortion and death penalty provisions on their merits. The Catholic Conference believes that a fundamental measure of any legislation is whether it enhances or diminishes respect for human life. In two different ways, the Senate version would threaten human life -- by permitting District of Columbia tax funds to destroy innocent unborn children and by mandating the death penalty in the District of Columbia. We strongly oppose both provisions and urge that they be removed from the bill in Conference.
Finally, we strongly support the House and Senate bills' appropriation of $100 million for refugee assistance and resettlement. We are concerned, however, about the potential effect of Senator Armstrong's amendment, which would reallocate refugee admission numbers outside of the Congressional consultation process. USCC opposes the amendment's suggestion that the level of assistance provided to refugees through voluntary agencies need not be restored to the 1986 level.
We renew our strong support for the speedy passage of the assistance to Panama and Nicaragua and the supplemental for refugee assistance without anti-life amendments.
Rev. Msgr. Robert N. Lynch
General Secretary NCCB/USCC
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