WASHINGTON (Aug. 2)
The Senate Democratic Caucus today elected Sen. John L. McClellan (Ark.) as chairman of the Appropriations Committee–a development that is expected to aid the drive for Senate approval of the appropriations for the $85 million bill to aid Soviet refugees, especially Soviet Jews in Israel, Emon A, Mahony. Jr., Si-year-old legislative assistant to McClellan, said today that the 76-year-old Senator was a “strong supporter of aid to Israel.”
McClellan, up for election this November for his sixth successive term, voted for the three legislative measures introduced by Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D. Wash.) calling for “unlimited” authorization of military credits for Israel (1970 and on Monday of this week) and for $500 million in credits (1971). On Monday the credits amendment was approved by the Senate, 76-9. While he favored the Jackson amendment in 1970, McClellan voted on Dec. 15 of that year against a motion by Sen. Frank Church (D. Id.) to kill a measure which would have barred American financing of ground combat troops or military advisors in Israel as well as in Cambodia. The Church measure carried, 60-20.
McClellan succeeds the late Sen. Allen J. Ellender (D. La.) as Appropriations Committee chairman. Ellender, a Senator for 36 years, opposed the three Jackson measures, as did McClellan’s fellow Arkansas Democrat, Foreign Relations Committee chairman J. William Fulbright.
Authorization for the $85 million measure has been approved by Congress and signed into law by President Nixon. However, the actual funding was sidetracked when, in a floor fight on Vietnam, the Senate rejected the foreign aid bill, which included that money. The Soviet-refugee bill was sponsored by Sen. Edmund S. Muskie (D.Me.). McClellan was not recorded as voting on the Muskie measure when it was approved, nor was’ he one of its 45 co-sponsors. The Arkansan also did not sign Congressional petitions to the Nixon administration on Soviet Jewry and Phantom jets, reportedly because he is cool to such procedures.
Some Senate sources said today that the $85 million may be included in an overall supplemental bill for agencies running into deficits or made part of a continuing resolution to prolong the aid program. Other sources said the Senate may await passage of another version of military aid by the House and act on that. McClellan visited Israel with Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D. Com.), the Senate’s only Jewish Democrat, in May, 1968, as chairman of the Committee on Government Operations. He reported on Israel’s program of international cooperation.