Senate opponents of aid to the Nicaraguan contras lost another battle Tuesday but said they will fight on to break a filibuster and compel President Reagan to account for millions of dollars in previous assistance they say has disappeared.
The vote on ending the filibuster was an even 50 to 50, 10 votes short of the 60 required.
Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), said a third attempt to end the filibuster will be made today. He had earlier said that he would abandon the effort if the second try failed.
Accounting of Funds
At issue is a symbolic resolution to suspend aid to the contras for 180 days while the Reagan Administration accounts for spending, from private sources as well as from the federal government, on the rebels.
A first attempt to choke off the filibuster failed on Monday when 46 senators voted to end the debate and 45 voted to let it continue.
Byrd made clear, however, that the real goal now is to produce, not 60 votes but 51, the “constitutional majority” that will be all that is needed to reject the President’s request for $105 million when it reaches the Senate later this year.
Byrd’s back-to-back defeats came after the Senate refused last week to halt $40 million in military aid to the rebels who are fighting the leftist Managua government.
The House a week earlier passed a bill blocking the money--the last installment of a $100-million aid package approved last year--until Reagan accounted for past U.S. assistance.
Both sides in the Senate appear to agree there has been a good accounting for the $60 million in military and logistical support that was the initial installment of the $100-million aid package.
However, Byrd, Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) and others said that much of a previous $27 million in U.S. logistical aid cannot be traced and that no one knows what happened to the additional millions of dollars sent by private U.S. citizens and certain foreign governments or the money reportedly diverted from secret U.S. arms transfers to Iran.