US policy on aid to the Middle East could receive a radical overhaul if a proposed bill being put forward by the new Republican leaders of Congress is passed. Funds to the Middle East would rise slightly under the proposals, but they would be allocated on the basis of strategic priorities.

The bill, being drawn up by Senator Mitch McConnell, includes cuts in spending to most regions. Additional spending cuts suggested by the new leader of the Senate foreign relations committee, Jesse Helms, includes ending all funding to the World Bank, the UN Development Programme and the UNESCO.