WASHINGTON (Oct. 28)
President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and the Democratic Party’s leadership in the House of Representatives have again delayed final consideration of the Mills-Vanik legislation regarding Soviet emigration policy.
House Speaker Carl Albert (D.Okla.) and Majority Leader Thomas P. O’Neill (D. Mass.) received the requests Thursday, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was informed, during the meeting on the Middle East crisis in the White House of the President, top Administration officials and the leaders of the two major parties of the House and Senate.
The House Rules Committee on Oct. 8–two days after Egypt and Syria attacked Israel–postponed final scheduling of a debate in the House on the Trade Reform Act of 1973 which included a modified form of the Mills-Vanik proposal. On Oct. 24, the Committee decided to schedule a seven-hour debate on the Act for Oct. 30. But the possibility of a Soviet-American confrontation over the Middle East persuaded the Democratic leaders to avoid further breakdown at this point of Soviet-American relations although they are determined to press the Mills-Vanik measure to ultimate passage.
DELAYING ACTION SOUGHT
While the delay in the House vote is occasioned by the crisis between the superpowers over the Arab-Israeli war, the Administration continues to be strongly opposed to the legislation banning MFN and credits to which it is committed under an agreement with the USSR signed last Oct. Even in warning the Soviet government Thursday about possible confrontation, Kissinger seemed to go out of his way to note that the U.S. opposes interfering in Soviet domestic policy, a clear reference to the Jackson/Mills-Vanik legislation.
Thus, JTA was informed, the Administration is delaying a House vote because of the strong feelings among Congressmen against the Soviet Union for its encouragement of Arab attacks on Israel. The Administration strategy, using the current crisis as a delaying tactic, is for a vote, when the Middle East situation cools, to kill the entire section in the trade bill dealing with MFN treatment and vote down the Mills-Vanik motion, too.
This would put the trade bill into a possible compromise with the Senate version which is expected to carry the full Jackson Amendment. In the Senate-House conference to iron out differences between the two versions, the Administration hopes to kill the Jackson Amendment as well.
Actually, killing the Jackson and Mills-Vanik sections will not give the USSR MFN since the present legislation, in effect, forbids it to the Soviet Union. New legislation is required to grant such tariff concessions. No such bills are at present in sight. The Administration, however, could continue to grant credits to the Soviet government through the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which it has already done. The Administration’s purpose, according to knowledgeable sources, is to prove to the USSR in a continuous effort at detente that it is doing its best to avert Congressional legislative expression against Soviet repression of its citizens.