WASHINGTON (Nov. 12)
Secretary of Commerce Rogers Morton is unlikely to be formally held in contempt of Congress for refusing to disclose information to a House subcommittee that he has received from American companies related to the Arab boycott.
Morton has resigned from his Cabinet post and will leave office by the end of the year. It is believed, Capitol sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today, that House and committee actions remaining to execute the legislative procedures for the citation cannot be completed within the six weeks remaining before Morton’s departure.
Morton was cited as being in contempt yesterday by a 10-5 vote of the House subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations headed by Rep. John Moss (D. Calif.). The group has been trying since last July to obtain documents on American companies believed to have complied with the boycott. Moss said that Morton’s refusal to provide the information left him no choice but citation for contempt. Withholding the papers. Moss said, should not be tolerated by the Congress.
Rep. James Scheuer (D.NY) formally introduced the motion in the subcommittee against Morton. If he is cited by the full. House, it is believed, Morton would be the first Cabinet officer to be held in contempt. The subcommittee action must be approved by its parent body, the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce and then adopted by a majority vote in the House, Capitol Hill sources also told the JTA that should Morton not submit the information before leaving office his successor will be given an opportunity by the subcommittee to provide it.
“I would like to reiterate my personal opposition to the Arab boycott and my full accord with the policies and laws of the United States,” Morton said in a statement to the subcommittee. He observed that Attorney General Edward Levi had told him he need not respond to the subcommittee’s subpoena for the information.