WASHINGTON (Oct. 4)
Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D.Wash.) served notice today to the Soviet government, the Nixon administration and all parties involved in negotiating new trade relations between the US and USSR that they will have Congress to deal with on the issue of the Soviet education head tax imposed on Jews seeking to emigrate from Russia.
Jackson stressed that point at a press conference here this afternoon just before he presented on the Senate floor his amendment to the 1971 East-West Trade Act that would in effect force the Soviets to rescind their visa fees.
The Jackson amendment has 66 bi-partisan co-sponsors, nearly 2/3 of the Senate, and is expected to pick up more before the end of the day. Missing from the list of co-sponsors, however, were Sen. Mike Mansfield (D.Mont.) the Senate Majority Leader, and Sen. Hugh Scott (R.Pa.) the Minority Leader. The Jackson measure will not be voted on before Congress adjourns its current session Oct. 15, but is certain to come up after Congress reconvenes next Jan.
VANIK AMENDMENT SNOWBALLING IN HOUSE
An equivalent of the Jackson amendment was introduced in the House today by Rep. Charles Vanik (D.Ohio) who said he had 73 co-sponsors and expected at least 25 more. Rep. Benjamin S. Rosenthal (D.NY) at the same time introduced a joint resolution that would suspend the expansion of trade with the Soviet Union until there are assurances that measures restricting emigration from that country will be withdrawn.
Jackson indicated in reply to questions at his press conference that the administration was not actively opposing his amendment despite statements from the State Department last week that it did not favor such measures. While there have been no affirmative statements of support for his bill from the administration, “I understand the administration is not opposing this,” Jackson said. He asserted no one in the administration had asked him to “hold off” on his amendment.
The Jackson amendment provides that after Oct. 15, 1972, no country shall be eligible to receive most favored nation treatment, or to participate in any US government programs for credit or investment guarantees directly or indirectly if it denies its citizens the right or opportunity to emigrate or imposes more than a nominal tax on emigration or on other documents required to emigrate “for any purpose or cause whatsoever.”
29 SENATORS DENOUNCE HEAD TAX
Just before Jackson’s press conference, a statement signed by 29 of the co-sponsoring Senators denouncing the Soviet visa fees was distributed by Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R.NY) and Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D. Minn.). The statement noted, “The Jewish community of the Soviet Union has already suffered more than other elements of the Soviet population from discrimination.”
Continuing, the statement observed: “It should be completely unacceptable to the US and the world that the survivors of the Nazi holocaust and their children again should be singled out for discriminatory treatment and be subjected to notorious ransom requirements impeding their natural desire to join with relatives and co-religionists in other lands.”
At his press conference, Jackson brushed aside suggestions that the visa fees were an internal matter of the Soviet Union or that the UN, rather than the US, should raise the issue. “I hope that our foreign policy is based on the central theme not only for the preservation of human freedom but for an extension of it,” Jackson said, adding that “if we depend on the UN we’ll all be in trouble.”
According to Jackson, his amendment is a “clear signal” to the Soviet Union of the attitude of Congress toward legislation the Russians are interested in, and also to the administration and the people involved in trade relations with the Soviet Union. “We’re not cramming it down anybody’s throat,” he stated. The administration will have ample time to tell the Russians what Congress wants, Jackson asserted. He said that at this time, when the USSR wants trade relations with the US and is asking for special credit and most favored nation treatment, the Soviet Union should be made to “adhere to certain specific conditions.”
In a joint statement issued by Richard Maass, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, and Jacob Stein, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the two Jewish leaders, who last week issued a letter to Nixon urging the US to use its economic power to bring about changes in the Soviet Union’s treatment of Jewish emigrants, stated today:
“The amendment to the East-West Trade Bill is a welcome bi-partisan initiative. It will serve to alert the Soviet Union that the American people will not sit idly by while the Soviet Union exploits its citizens who wish to emigrate. Clearly the United States cannot offer economic concessions to the Soviet Union while Russia holds educated Jews for ransom.”