WASHINGTON (Jun. 22)
The Senate Banking Committee voted today by eight to six to reject stronger wording, sought by opponents of the Arab boycott, and retained the weaker House version of the Export Control Bill.
Senator Harrison A. Williams, Jr., New Jersey Democrat, had attempted to strengthen the anti-boycott measure in Committee by offering wording that would “require” non-compliance with the boycott and make Arab practices illegal instead of merely asking the Executive Department to “encourage and request” opposition to boycott tactics. The Williams substitute would also have provided wording to actually “prohibit” practices inconsistent with the anti-boycott declaration.
It was learned that adequate votes had been pledged to anti-boycott forces but at the last minute, two Republican Senators switched their votes to defeat the stronger mea sure. They were Sen. John G. Tower of Texas and Sen. Strom Thurmond of South California. These two Conservative Senators reportedly were persuaded at the last minute that American firms should not be hampered in dealings with the Arabs, a position advanced by our oil interests with investments in the Near East.
Officials of the Commerce and State Departments made known that they were pleased with the Committee’s rejection of the stronger anti-boycott provision. They said they could accept the measure voted by the House because it was sufficiently weak and non-mandatory in terms of actually prohibiting the Arab tactics.
A decision is being made by Senators opposed to the boycott on whether to fight on the Senate floor to strengthen the anti-boycott bill. Final Senate action on the bill will take place come time next week.