WASHINGTON (Sep. 20)
The House Ways and Means Committee, caught in an intense crossfire between the White House and public sentiment on Soviet-American, trade agreements, may drop all reference to most favored nation status from the Trade Reform Act it is considering. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency was informed today by sources close to the Committee that the group, at a showdown meeting Sept. 26, will “likely delete” Title Five of the act. This section refers in general terms to MFN treatment granted by the United States to friendly countries with which it trades.
The significance of the deletion, JTA was in formed, is that the Nixon Administration will be unable to grant MFN status with resultant trade benefits and credits to the Soviet Union despite the Soviet-American agreement of last Oct.
Although deletion may take place, the sources said, Rep. Charles A. Vanik (D.Ohio) will seek a recorded vote on the proposal he and committee chairman Wilbur Mills (D.Ark.) have introduced. This, identical with the Jackson Amendment in the Senate, would link U.S. concessions with Soviet amelioration of emigration and humanitarian practices.
Once the recorded vote is taken, the sources indicated, the Vanik-Mills group will press to have the language incorporated in some other area of the act. This intricate legislative maneuvering apparently evolved following the collapse of the Corman-Pettis alternative proposal brought about after President Nixon personally insisted on MFN legislation to Committee members.
NOT ONE SPONSOR FOR COMPROMISE BILL
The alternative introduced by Reps. James C. Corman, Democrat and Jerry L. Pettis, Republican, both of California, was doomed quickly by the surge of sentiment for Mills-Vanik legislation. Aides of Corman and Pettis told JTA that their alternative failed to gain a single sponsor although the White House was behind it.
In fact, the aides said, neither Corman nor Pettis went as far as to withdraw their names from sponsorship of the Mills-Vanik legislation which both had publicly supported prior to last week. Mail received by the two Congressmen, JTA was informed, was substantial but virtually all of it favored the Mills-Vanik legislation. “It’s 98 percent, maybe more, for Mills-Vanik,” one aide remarked. Both Corman and Pettis will be in Los Angeles over the weekend to try to convince representatives of Jewish organizations to accept their alternative.
Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, whose confirmation as Secretary of State is expected tomorrow, is now unlikely to appear before the Committee to urge MFN status for the Soviets. He was to have testified Sept. 18 but his appearance was cancelled, JTA was told, because no purpose would have been served at the time. His views already had been amply reported to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in public hearings two weeks ago.
Since Dr. Kissinger is due at the United Nations Sept. 24 for a prolonged round of consultations with foreign ministers attending the General Assembly sessions, it is felt that he will be unable to spare the time to return to Washington to participate in a fruitless committee discussion.