WASHINGTON (Jun. 8)
The House of Representatives adopted today a compromise amendment to the Export Control Act to oppose the Arab boycott after hours of bitter debate. Republicans and some Democrats maintained during the debate that the compromise was a concession to the State Department that would allow the Executive Department to evade implementation of the measure.
The adopted measure, known as the Multer-Halpern Amendment, was worked out by the White House with the chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency, the chairman of the Subcommittee which held hearings on the bill and by Rep. Abraham Multer, New York Democrat, and Rep. Seymour Halpern, New York Republican.
On the floor of Congress, however, an unexpected event occurred when the Committee’s ranking Republican, Rep. William Widnall, of New Jersey, said that the Republicans were not bound by any compromise and indicated Rep. Halpern and acted in his own behalf, Rep. Widnall took the position that the compromise took the teeth out of the original anti-boycott measure and made implementation dubious. He proposed a stronger substitute, reverting to the original measure advocated by many Subcommittee members, but the substitute was voted down by a vote of 96 to 64.
It was pointed out that the approach to drafting of “rules and regulations” in the compromise measure was vague and subject to evasion by the State Department while the more definitive and specific language contained in the Widnall substitute mea sure would place a direct requirement of anti-boycott action.
NEW YORK REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMEN DEMAND STRONGER MEASURE
The need for a measure stronger than the substitute was stressed in addresses by such members as Republicans John Lindsay and Ogden Reid of New York, the latter being the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Reid said that Congress should not be “fainthearted” because the Arab boycott is repugnant and should use strong and definitive language in opposing it.
Rep. Lindsay said that many previous condemnations of Arab policies had been made by Congress in various legislation, but that the State Department had paid no attention. He deplored the State Department attempts to equate the Arab boycott of Israel with the American boycotts of Cuba, Communist China and North Vietnam.
Among the Democrats, Rep. William F. Ryan of New York took a stand favoring the stronger Republican substitute. Chairman Wright Patman of Texas of the Committee that reported out the bill, and Rep. Thomas Ashley of Chio, chairman of the Subcommittee, made known that they did not favor even the compromise measure because they said it interfered with the President’s conduct of foreign affairs, but agreed to support it in preference to stronger legislation.
The Republican substitute measure offered by Rep. Widnall called for the mandatory prohibition of the furnishing by American firms of boycott information to the Arabe. The compromise calls for “rules and regulations” to implement the provisions of this Act to be set forth in keeping with the expressed policy contained in the Act.
The policy voiced in the Act would “oppose restrictive trade practices or boycotts fostered or imposed by foreign countries against other countries friendly to the United States, and to encourage and request domestic sources engaged in the exports of articles, materials or supplies or technical data, to refuse to take any action, including the furnishing of information or the signing of agreements which have the effect of furthering or supporting the restrictive trade practices or boycotts fostered or imposed by any foreign country against another country friendly to the United States.”
Incorporated into the compromise amendment was wording offered by Rep, Halpern to strengthen it. This provided that the President should be called upon to promulgate implementing rules and regulations as soon as possible.