WASHINGTON (Jan. 16)
Senate ratification of the United Nations Genocide Convention “looks better” in the 96th Congressional session that began yesterday than at any time since President Truman approved it 22 years ago, according to Sen. William Proxmire (D. Wisc.), the Senate’s most determined advocate of the measure.
In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency shortly before the current Congress held its first session, Proxmire said that chances for success are better because of the atrocities in Cambodia and Uganda and the effect of the NBC-TV series “Holocaust” last spring which he said had “a deep emotional response all over the country.”
Proxmire said he had been talking to a number of Senators since they began arriving here Jan. 3 and he believes that 50-60 of the 100 Senators favor the Convention. Two-thirds of the Senate is needed to ratify an international treaty. The legislation will be adopted by the Senate, Proxmire believes, if former California Governor Ronald Reagan, who looms as the leading potential Republican Party nominee for President in 1980, is neutral or friendly to the Convention.
Conservative members of the Senate have historically felt that the Convention would abridge the U. S. Constitution, and Reagan’s position may persuade his Senate supporters not to oppose it.
On every Senate business day for the past Il years, Proxmire has urged that body to pass the Convention. His speeches and statements testify to the doggedness with which he has fought to have the U. S. abide by the measure which was adopted in the wake of the Nazi atrocities. Every President, Secretary of State and Attorney General since-1949 has backed the Convention.
The American Bar Association, which had been a persistent opponent, finally approved it in 1976, thus improving the chances for passage. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has voted out the measure for Senate debate four times is expected to do so again in the current session. Senate conservatives last, session blocked its passage by parliamentary maneuvers.