Legislative Action Sought on Soviet Exit Visa Fees

Strong bipartisan support for legislative action to cause a change in the Soviet Union’s fees on would-be emigrants was building up on both sides of the Congress today. Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D. Wash.) author of a tough nine-point proposal governing American trade relations with the Soviet Union, and 10 co-sponsoring Senators were circulating a letter to their Senatorial colleagues urging them to support it. Jackson made known the text of his proposal in a Senate speech yesterday but has not yet formally introduced it for action pending the gathering of additional support. The introduction will probably take place early next week.

In the House, meanwhile, Rep. Benjamin Rosenthal (D.NY), chairman of the subcommittee on Europe of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a resolution backed by 57 Democrats and Republicans declaring that it is the “sense of Congress” that President Nixon “suspend all steps taken or contemplated to expand trade and other economic activities with the Soviet Union, and with any other country that uses arbitrary and discriminatory methods to limit the right of emigration, until the President determines that the Soviet Union or such other country as the case may be is no longer using such methods to limit emigration.” The resolution would have Nixon take such action within 30 days of the resolution’s enactment. If adopted by Congress, the resolution would have the force of law.

Meanwhile, the White House reserved comment on the letter delivered yesterday by the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations which called on the President to refrain from entering into “new and close trade relationships” with the Soviet Union unless its “extortionate and inhumane emigration tax” practices are stopped. The letter was given to Leonard Garment, special advisor to the President, by a group headed by Richard Maass, the NCSJ chairman. Nixon is returning to Washington tonight and a response is expected tomorrow.

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