With post-impeachment public opinion pushing the GOP towards the political center on domestic issues, the Republicans can choose foreign policy issues to stake out differences with the administration. Some Republicans cast doubt Thursday on congressional approval of the increased aid and relaxation of immigration regulations promised by the President to Central American countries on his trip this week. And fallout from revelations about China's theft of nuclear secrets 14 years ago is fueling Republican legislative attempts to tie Clinton's hands over the issue of admitting Beijing to the World Trade Organization. Fighting foreign policy battles on Capitol Hill may carry limited domestic political risk for the White House, but it potentially plays havoc with Washington's projection of its power beyond these shores.
President Clinton won the Kosovo skirmish on Capitol Hill, but the battle for control over U.S. foreign policy isn't over yet. Congress bucked the President's plea to postpone Thursday's debate over committing U.S. troops to Kosovo, but then voted with the White House on the issue anyway. While the vote may make it easier for Washington to revive the troubled peace process, the 219-191 margin gives the White House cause for concern.