WASHINGTON (Aug. 5)
Congress adjourned Friday for a month-long recess with the Mills-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Reform Act yet to be acted on by House Ways and Means Committee “but still on course” according to a House source. The House committee, moving deliberately in its analysis of the complex trade legislation submitted to Congress by President Nixon, has not yet reached the Mills-Vanik measure that would tie trade concessions to the Soviet Union to a lifting of emigration restrictions.
But the delay has not affected support for the measure, said an aide to one of its original sponsors, Rep. Charles A. Vanik (D.-Ohio). “All the indications are that everyone is still firm on it,” the aide said, referring to the already expressed support of 18 of the committee’s 25 members.
“The amendment is also in good shape in the House,” he added, “and the prospects are excellent” for passage. There are presently 285 House members listed as co-sponsors of the bill.
The aide also said that national security advisor Dr. Henry Kissinger’s disclosure to Jewish leaders recently of Soviet claims of leniency to Jews who have repeatedly been denied visas had little impact in the House.
During his summit talks here, Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev produced figures purportedly showing that the Soviet Union had allowed most applicants to emigrate, holding back only those who held state secrets.
But reports of persecution of Soviet Jews applying for exit visas “cancels any list that Mr. Brezhnev can pull out of his vest pocket,” the aide said.
Reports such as the sudden drafting of would be emigrant Evgeney Levich into the army continually solidify support among House members for the Mills-Vanik measure, he added.
In the Senate, an aide to Sen. Henry M.Jackson (D. Wash.) said that there had been no erosion of support for his companion bill during the wait for final action.
“The amendment has been floating for more than a year,” she said. It was first introduced last fall and then as an amendment to the major trade bill in 1973.
“Anyone who wasn’t serious in the beginning about co-sponsoring has already departed,” she said. There are now 77 co-sponsors listed on the Senate legislation, she said, adding that even major changes in Soviet policy would not diminish the need for the amendment. Congress will reconvene Sept. 5 with the Ways and Means Committee scheduled to resume hearings soon afterward.