WASHINGTON (Dec. 11)
The House of Representatives, by a vote of 272-140, today adopted the 1973 Trade Reform Act embodying bans on U.S. trade credits, investment guarantees and most favored nation status for the Soviet Union until it modifies its emigration practices. The measure will go to the Senate which is to hold hearings on the trade bill beginning early next year and where more than 3/4 of the members have already endorsed identical restrictions on trade with the USSR embodied in the Jackson Amendment.
The vote on the Trade Reform Act followed an overwhelming manifestation of support for an amendment sponsored by Rep. Charles A. Vanik (D.Ohio) to deny trade credits and investment guarantees, directly or indirectly, to the Soviet Union until it eases its policies on the emigration of Jews and others. The Vanik motion was adopted 319-80 and the House then went on to kill by a vote of 298-106, a motion by Administration supporters to delete the entire Title Four (Mills Vanik) from the Trade Act.
Today’s vote on the Vanik measure restored in its entirety the original legislation sponsored by Vanik and Rep. Wilbur Mills (D.Ark) linking U.S. trade concessions with Soviet emigration policies. The ban on credit and guarantees had been dropped earlier during consideration of the Mills-Vanik bill by the House Ways and Means Committee. The ban on granting most favored nation status (tariff parity) to the USSR was left intact. The Soviet Union is known to be more interested in U.S. credits than MFN.
LAST DITCH STAND BY ADMINISTRATION
The vote in favor of the Vanik amendment exceeded the number of co-sponsors of the original Mills-Vanik bill which totalled 284 and was substantially greater than the 2/3 vote required to override a Presidential veto. The vote in favor of the full Trade Reform Act, however, was not veto-proof. Nixon has threatened to veto the bill if it contains the Mills-Vanik amendment.
Administration forces only halfheartedly opposed the Vanik amendment today, obviously aware of the overwhelming sentiment in favor of restrictions stemming from Soviet actions in the Middle East and other actions militating against free emigration. The motion to have the entire Title Four deleted from the bill, entered by Rep. Barber B. Conable (R.NY), a Nixon stalwart, represented a last stand by Administration forces to defeat Mills-Vanik in the House.
The Nixon Administration has argued strenuously during the past few months against any restraints in its trade dealings with the USSR on grounds that they would hinder detente and jeopardize delicate negotiations on the Middle East. The Administration is expected to make a final effort to remove the bans when the Senate considers the Trade Act next year.
Vanik, in a personal telephone call to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency here, said, “The tremendous vote” today is a “clear mandate on the part of the Congress of the United States in support both for human rights and decency and an expression of compassion for the State of Israel.” Many Congressmen had not committed themselves prior to the Soviet-supported Arab attack on Israel on Yom Kippur and they endorsed the legislation in view of the Kremlin’s Middle East policies despite the President’s opposition to the Mills-Vanik proposals.