WASHINGTON (Jun. 19)
Congressional critics of President Nixon’s pledges to provide nuclear reactors and materials to Egypt and Israel lost their first skirmish that would bar the agreements without the approval of both Houses of Congress. By an overwhelming majority, the House in a voice vote yesterday shouted down a move by Rep. Mario Biaggi (D.NY) that would prohibit U.S. funds from being used to provide foreign countries with nuclear technology or materials or to enter into agreements to provide them without “the expressed consent of both Houses of Congress.”
Biaggi’s action was in the form of an amendment to the Appropriation Bill for the State, Justice and Commerce Departments. Later, he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that his move was “in a small way” to block the State Department” in this field but “even more important” he wanted to “trigger action” in the House and among Congressional committees that would have jurisdiction over such agreements.
Reps. Melvin Price (D.III.), chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy and Chet Holifield (D.Calif.), who has often advised U.S. delegations to international atomic energy conferences, opposed the Biaggi measure. Both indicated the joint committee would decide whether the agreements would be put to a vote in either House. Price said the Congress “will have ample time to be heard on these specific agreements and pledged he will inform the House when the committee receives the agreement “so that every member then can state his desire to be heard,” but he made no promise of putting the agreements to a floor test.