Statement on Signing the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1986 and 1987

August 17, 1985

I have signed H.R. 2068, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1986 and 1987. H.R. 2068 authorizes appropriations for the conduct of our foreign affairs during fiscal years 1986 and 1987. These appropriation authorizations and several new authorities in this legislation are vital to the national security of the United States. Appropriations authorized by this act will enable the State Department to manage our diplomatic and consular establishment abroad, participate in and provide contributions to important international organizations, and extend humanitarian refugee assistance. The act also continues our important information, exchange of persons, and radio broadcasting efforts through the United States Information Agency and the Board for International Broadcasting. It provides continued authority for the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, as we proceed with arms control negotiations.

A few serious problems are raised, however, by several other provisions of the act, the foremost of which pertain to our relations with the United Nations and its specialized agencies. These provisions establish conditions that may be impossible to meet within the period of time indicated, thereby requiring reductions in U.S. payments of assessed and voluntary contributions. Activities of these organizations of importance to the United States could be deleteriously affected as a result.

I note in particular that section 143 places contingent limitations on our payments unless the United Nations adopts weighted voting on budgetary matters by fiscal year 1987. I am asking Secretary [of State] Shultz to begin discussions toward that end. He will stay in close contact with the Congress as he proceeds. Depending on the outcome of those discussions, it may be necessary to seek legislative changes.

Section 113 prohibits contributions by the United States to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) after June 1986 unless the High Commissioner provides for annual audits by an independent consultant. The Department of State will begin to work immediately with the High Commissioner to see if this requirement can be satisfied, since the limitation could put the United States in a position of being unable to respond adequately through the UNHCR to life-threatening emergencies such as those found in Africa and Southeast Asia. If it cannot, legislative relief may also have to be sought.

Similar difficulties may also result from section 151, which assumes that the United Nations can determine whether and the extent to which some U.N. employees are required to pay part or all of their salaries to their respective governments. This provision also assumes that the United Nations can correct such a practice and requires a reduction to U.S. payments of its assessed contributions to the United Nations to the extent that the practice continues. The difficulties in administering section 151 may require some modification of it at a later date.

I am also concerned about the numerous earmarkings of appropriation authorizations for particular activities included in this act. I understand the intent of the Congress in setting out these amounts. Nevertheless, they may severely limit our ability to meet other important program needs within the limited appropriation amounts that are likely to be enacted by the Congress. In this regard, I am particularly concerned about earmarkings enacted for refugee assistance and for the United States Information Agency. Because of the lack of clarity in the earmarkings of the exchange of persons program of USIA, I am asking the Director of that agency to plan on program levels of $148 and $159 million in 1986 and 1987, respectively. Because of the large number of earmarkings found in the bill, the Secretary of State and the Director of USIA will have to work closely with both authorization and appropriations committees as fiscal years 1986 and 1987 progress so that interests of the Congress and priority foreign affairs needs can best be accommodated.

Note: H.R. 2068, approved August 16, was assigned Public Law No. 99-93.