WASHINGTON (Jul. 9)
Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, one of the leading co-sponsors of the Jackson Amendment, indicated yesterday that he and other co-sponsors were prepared to consider changes in the measure if that would lead to an improvement in U.S.-Soviet trade relations and an increase in emigration for Soviet Jews. The Connecticut Democrat, one of a 17-man Senate delegation that returned from a visit to the Soviet Union Monday, also implied that the Jackson Amendment has not worked the way its supporters had hoped.
"If a policy fails I don’t think you should stick forever with it," Ribicoff told a press conference here. He added, however, that it appeared, from the Senate group’s contacts with Soviet officials that the Russians now understand the strong Congressional interest and support for free emigration and that "Congress will not move until people can get out." Ribicoff said that another major co-sponsor of the Jackson Amendment, Sen. Jacob K, Javits (R, NY), also favored some changes.
The Jackson-Vanik Amendment was incorporated into the 1974 Trade Reform Act with overwhelming support in both houses of Congress. The measure was named for Sen, Henry M. Jackson (D. Wash.) its principal author and advocate in the Senate and Rep. Charles A, Vanik (D.Ohio) author of an identical measure in the House. The amendment was strongly opposed by the White House and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger who argued that "quiet diplomacy" was a more effective means of achieving the free emigration aims of the amendment’s supporters.
Adoption of the Jackson Amendment last year and a related measure authored by Sen. Adli Stevenson (D. Ill) which put a $300 million ceiling on Export-Import Bank credits to the Soviet Union was believed responsible for Moscow’s repudiation of its 1973, trade pact with the U.S. Since then emigration from the USSR which reached a peak of 35,000 in 1973, dropped to an annual rate of 13,000 this year, according to the State Department.
The Administration, meanwhile, has reportedly renewed it effort to modify the Jackson Amendment, Kissinger discussed the issue yesterday with the Senators who had just returned from Moscow. Several Senators said afterwards that they had discussed the possibility of changes in the Jackson and Stevenson amendments.