By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
U.S. congressional Republicans are taking aim at any
International Monetary Fund move to bailout European countries
in their debt crisis, saying they don't want American funds
involved. The lawmakers are trying to snatch back a $100
billion line of credit the United States approved for an IMF
crisis fund, the New Arrangements to Borrow, in 2009 at the
height of the global financial crisis.
The U.S. is the IMF's largest member country and its share
of the $550 billion fund is about 18.7 percent.
Republican Representative Kay Granger told Reuters the
matter was one of the unresolved issues in congressional
negotiations between the Republican-majority House and
Democratic-majority Senate over fiscal 2012 spending.
Another House Republican, Representative Cathy
McMorris-Rodgers, has gathered 58 co-sponsors on her legislation
to pull back the U.S. line of credit. She also supports
An early opponent of U.S. involvement in rescuing indebted
European countries, McMorris-Rodgers complains the Obama
administration has not told Congress details of how much of the
credit line approved two years ago has been used, or for what.
She says she wants transparency over how the money is used by
"Congress should be involved in making this decision as to
what the role of America will be in a potential European
bailout," she told Reuters.
The IMF has so far stepped in with rescue loans for euro
zone members Greece, Portugal and Ireland. Now, there is growing
concern that rising borrowing costs for Spain and Italy may also
force them to seek IMF financing.
Congress approved the IMF funding in 2009 after it was
attached to a bill financing the Iraq and Afghan wars. Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates,
along with National Security Adviser Jim Jones, wrote Congress
saying the IMF needed the money to confront the global financial
The measure provided a $100 billion credit line to the IMF,
increased the U.S. member contribution to the IMF by another $8
billion and authorized the United States to back the IMF's plan
to sell 400 tonnes (12.97 million ounces) of gold. Both the
House and Senate had Democratic majorities at the time the
measure was approved.
President Barack Obama had pledged the IMF funds at a 2009
meeting of G20 leaders, who committed to a $500 billion boost as
more countries hit by the global financial crisis turn to the
IMF for emergency loans. The United States is the IMF's largest
The Obama administration says that retracting the money
authorized in 2009 "could put the United States out of
compliance with its international obligations and jeopardize the
ability of the IMF to play its critical role in maintaining
global financial stability."
There is also considerable sentiment for getting the IMF
funds back among Republicans in the Senate, although they do not
have the majority there. The Senate voted 55-44 in June against
a proposal by Republican Senator Jim DeMint to repeal IMF loan
In July, the House foreign aid appropriations subcommittee
headed by Granger recommended rescinding the $108 billion from
the IMF. This is the provision now being discussed by House and
Senate appropriators as they try to agree by the end of this
month on fiscal 2012 spending.
Senate Democrats are resisting. "We do not believe the
President would sign a bill with the House language included,"
said an aide to Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, who heads the
Senate foreign aid subcommittee.
(Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton; editing by Anthony
(firstname.lastname@example.org; +1 202 898-8300; Reuters
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