GOP Takes IMF Funding to the Brink

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By opting for brinkmanship over statesmanship on the issue of funding the IMF, House Republicans may be playing chicken with Latin America's teetering markets. House Appropriations Committee chairman Sonny Callahan -- who was in the news most recently because his name appears in Starr's footnotes -- indicated Thursday that the GOP would continue to block President Clinton's request for $18 billion to replenish the IMF's depleted reserves. They plan to offer only $3.4 billion, although Callahan dangled the possibility of releasing the full amount "at a later time."

President Clinton is pressing for the IMF to act decisively to stop a Latin American financial meltdown. Brazil's stock exchange lost 8 percent of its value Thursday, bringing the Asian contagion even closer to home for the U.S. economy. While the Senate has voted to release the funds requested by the President, House Republicans are holding out for further concessions -- both with respect to the IMF and on such extraneous issues as abortion. "There's not much of a sense of history among many of the younger members of the House," says TIME assistant managing editor Dan Goodgame. "The average congressman doesn't necessarily have a sense of how badly things can go wrong here."