WASHINGTON, May 10 – With strong administration support, an important House committee has voted authorization for the president to use force to rescue any American held by the new International Criminal Court and to bar arms aid to nations that ratify the court treaty.
The measure, sponsored by Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas and the majority whip, is part of an emergency supplemental appropriations bill that contains $29.4 billion for military and domestic security spending. The House is likely to pass the bill next week.
Mr. DeLay told the Appropriations Committee Thursday evening that his provision was necessary so the nation would never see an "American soldier or elected leader dragged before this court," which he called a "rump court" and a "rogue court."
The bill would also codify the Bush administration's announced policy of refusing to cooperate in any way with the court, and it would bar the extradition of anyone sought by the court, whose founding treaty has been signed by 139 nations and ratified by 66, including most democratic nations.
The Senate overwhelmingly passed a weaker version of the DeLay measure last December, but Democratic leaders who opposed it were able to kill it in a House-Senate conference. This year, with the court scheduled to come into existence on July 1, they may not be able to block it.
Mr. DeLay said on Thursday that he had spoken personally with both Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and that they "have endorsed this in its entirety." Mr. DeLay's press secretary, Stuart Roy, said the measure had been refined after consultation with the White House.
Victoria Clarke, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said that while "I am confident the secretary has not read every line, he is very supportive of the intent" of the measure. "We have been talking to DeLay," she said. Mr. Rumsfeld said on Monday that the court imperiled American servicemen and women by putting them "at risk of politicized prosecutions."
The White House confirmed that it had worked with Mr. DeLay on provisions that would allow the president to grant waivers, if he thought them necessary, for arms deals to nations that ratified the treaty. "We support Congressman DeLay's version and we worked with him on this proposed legislation," said Sean McCormack, spokesman for the National Security Council. The arms deal ban exempts NATO countries and other major allies, but arms deals with nations like Colombia or the Philippines would require a waiver.
A State Department official said that with the waiver authority, the department supported the measure.
The proposal would also cover participation in peacekeeping operations that might put service members at risk of court jurisdiction.
Before the committee's 38-to-18 vote to adopt Mr. DeLay's plan, it was bitterly attacked by several Democrats. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island said it was a "shame" that the United States did not support the treaty and that the DeLay measure sent a message of unilateralism to the world.
Representative David R. Obey of Wisconsin, the senior Democrat on the appropriations panel, said the committee should not even consider the measure, but leave it to the International Relations Committee, which has the necessary expertise to address it.
He insisted that most committee members did not know what was in the 28-page amendment. Mr. DeLay said the threat to American troops was so urgent that "we don't have time for Mr. Obey to read the bill."
Mr. Obey, after demonstrating that some committee members did not know the court would be located in The Hague, asked if Mr. DeLay understood that under the rescue provision, "We would be sending our troops to invade the Netherlands." Mr. DeLay said he did not consider that a serious question.www.nytimes.com/2002/05/11/politics/11COUR.htmlE-mail this article