WASHINGTON – A leading pro-life supporter in the U.S. Congress has signaled a fresh tussle this year over U.S. funding of the United Nations and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Congressman Christopher Smith spoke February 12 after Secretary of State Madeleine Albright accusedCongressman Christopher Smithunnamed lawmakers of “legislative blackmail” for tying the release of funds to what she said was an unrelated abortion issue.

The administration and Congress agreed last year to pay back $819 million in arrears to the U.N., but Congress blocked the payment in November in a dispute over U.S. aid to overseas family planning groups that perform or promote abortions.

Also blocked was a $3.5 billion contribution to an International Monetary Fund back-up facility that would supplement IMF resources to deal with future financial crises.

While the administration blamed Congress for the impasse, Smith, during testimony by Albright to the House of Representatives International Relations Committee, said the administration had killed the bill by refusing to compromise.

“I hope that when we take these same issues up later this year, the president’s foreign policy advisers – not his abortion advisers – will decide which is more important to the administration: the U.N. … and IMF, or funding the international abortion industry,” he said.

“We’ve shown our willingness to compromise. It’s time for the administration to do the same,” said Smith, a New Jersey Republican.

Earlier Albright, in her statement to the committee, said members of the House had taken “valuable legislation hostage” by insisting the administration agree to their “unrelated position” on international family planning programs.

“The truth is, Mr Chairman, that the victims of the current game of legislative blackmail now being played are our shared constituents – the American people,” she said.

Albright said earlier in February the compromise proposed by Congress was really a “gag rule” that would disqualify overseas family planning groups from U.S. funding if they attended gatherings that discussed alleged defects in abortion laws.

Smith accused Albright of “rhetorical outbursts” with her words on blackmail, and said it was unrealistic to expect Congress to accept a foreign policy deal if the administration would not bend on “issues that matter to Congress.”

– Reuters via Pro-Life E News Canada