WASHINGTON (Sep. 7)
President Ford, familiar with steamroller legislative tactics from his many years in the House, is driving hard these days to get Congressional backing within the next two weeks on measures he considers immediately essential to keep up his momentum towards settling Arab-Israeli issues.
The more important is the required approval by both the Senate and House for stationing American civilian technicians between Egyptian and Israeli lines in the Sinai. The other, while of lesser importance, but what the Administration feels is necessary to appease Jordan, is to provide the Hashemite Kingdom with 14 “Hawk” surface-to-air missile systems which Congress refused to allow in July. The estimate here is that the President will get both from Congress but not without stiff resistance and probably not within his time frame.
Ford specifically asked Congressional leaders Sept, 4, only hours after Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger had returned to a warm Presidential welcome from his Middle East shuttle, to approve the technicians element within two-and-one-half weeks. But immediately afterwards, Congressional sources indicated that such legislative speed cannot be developed, and in any case too many key figures at the Capitol are insisting on getting details of Kissinger’s commitments to Egypt and Israel. Providing them with these details will take time, it was noted.
SEEK DETAILS INVOLVING U.S.
Senators John McClellan (D. Ark.) and John Stennis (D.Miss.), chairman of the Appropriations and Armed Services Committees, respectively, have indicated they may call upon the Administration for details of the agreements involving the United States. Chairman George Mahon (D.Tex.), of the House Appropriations Committee, also has said he has not had specifics, which is a hint he may call a hearing, too.
In addition, a measure is before the Senate for all of its members to receive the “classified” information Kissinger is prepared to provide. Thus it appears that votes in the Senate and House may be delayed until the first week in October at the earliest.
On the “Hawks” for Jordan, the Administration notified Congress Sept. 3 that unless it opposes it within the maximum of 20 days the government will provide the systems to Jordan. Immediately afterwards, Rep. Jonathan Bingham (D.NY) and 10 others on the 36-member House International Relations Committee signed a resolution opposing it.
TRYING TO SOOTHE HUSSEIN
“In its preoccupation with the Sinai civilian matter,” a Bingham aide observed, “Congress may tend to overlook the ‘Hawk’ missiles.” Jordan’s request and the Israeli-Egyptian agreement are unrelated, he observed. But the Jordanian matter is directly connected with the Administration’s aims to soothe all ruffled feathers, particularly an old friend like Hussein.
In July, when the Administration sought to get the “Hawks” for Jordan, the House balked and the International Relations Committee voted it down July 24. Rather than have the measure go to a House vote where it faced certain defeat, the Administration withdrew it and appeared to say it would seek a compromise. Instead, the Administration is trying to get it through again without change even though Chief of Staff George Brown said six “Hawks” for Jordan were enough.