* US seeks vote reforms as part of government funding
* Treasury asks to shift $65 bln in U.S. funding within IMF
* House Republicans reject plan but Senate still considering
By David Lawder and Lesley Wroughton
WASHINGTON, March 5 The Obama administration has
asked Congress for authority to implement historic voting
reforms in the International Monetary Fund that boost the
influence of emerging economies like China in the global
financial institution, sources said on Tuesday.
But the plan faces an uphill battle for passage in a tense
U.S. budget environment marked by the launch of $85 billion in
automatic spending cuts on Friday that hit both the U.S.
military and domestic programs hard.
The Treasury Department submitted the request as a provision
to be inserted into pending legislation to keep the U.S.
government funded through Sept. 30 this year, congressional
aides said. The Treasury sought authority to shift $65 billion
in U.S. funding from an IMF crisis fund into U.S. quotas, which
determine voting power in the Fund.
The United States is the IMF's largest member country and
has veto power over decisions. The vote reforms were approved by
the IMF in 2010, making China the third-largest voting member in
the Fund and revamping the IMF's board to reduce Western
The U.S. request would not require any new funds to be
appropriated by Congress because it simply shifts money from one
IMF account within the U.S. budget to another, a Senate
Democratic aide said.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has
already rejected the request to include it in legislation
scheduled for a vote on Tuesday that would avoid a March 27
government shutdown. A House Republican aide said House
Appropriations Committee Hal Rogers chose to limit such
so-called "anomalies" for targeted adjustments to the funding
No decision has been made yet by Democrats, who control the
Senate, on whether to include the IMF request in the Senate
version of the funding bill, expected to be introduced later
this month. Approval by the Senate would give it a good chance
to be included into the final bill after the two chambers work
CONCERNS ABOUT U.S. INFLUENCE
A Treasury spokeswoman declined to comment directly on the
request, but said: "The United States is committed to
implementing the 2010 quota and governance reform. We are
actively working with Congress to get quota legislation
completed as soon as possible."
Congressional aides said the Treasury is concerned that
further delays by Congress in approving the IMF vote reforms
could damage U.S. credibility and influence in the global
institution, according to aides said. The reforms were already
delayed by the administration's reluctance last year to ask
Congress for funding approval ahead of the U.S. presidential
election in November.
"There is support for this because it fulfills a commitment
by the United States and is in the interests of the United
States," one Senate Democratic aide said. "But because the IMF
is inherently viewed by some in Congress as controversial, the
outcome is difficult to predict."
Should the request be rejected, the $65 billion would remain
locked in the IMF crisis fund, known as the New Arrangements to
Borrow, until the end of the fiscal year. But the administration
could renew its request as part of the fiscal 2014 budget
process, which is just now getting underway.
In a letter sent to congressional leaders on Tuesday, some
19 former U.S cabinet officials, legislators and executives
declared their support for the quota funding request and urged
Congress to "maintain current overall U.S. leadership in the
The letter from the Bretton Woods Committee to House Speaker
John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid highlighted
the critical role the IMF plays in advancing U.S. interests
around the world and influencing international economic policy.