WASHINGTON (May. 22)
The suspense over whether President Reagan can go ahead with his proposed sale of missiles to Saudi Arabia will last until at least June 3, when Congress returns from its Memorial Day hiatus.
Reagan vetoed Wednesday afternoon the Congressional resolution rejecting the arms sale and sent the veto message immediately over to the Senate.
The President, who had earlier been busy calling Senators in an effort to get the 34 votes needed to sustain the veto in the Senate, apparently believed he had been successful.
But when Majority Leader Robert Dole (R. Kans.) sought to schedule a vote before the Senate adjourned, the Democrats threatened a filibuster and Dole had no choice but to postpone the vote until next month.
Senate Minority Leader Robert Byrd (D.W.Va.) said the Democrats were only repaying the Republicans in kind. “We all know that the Administration delayed until they felt confident they had the votes,” he said. Both sides
A SERIES OF MANEUVERS
The Senate had rejected the Saudi sale by a 73-22 vote and the House by a 356-62 vote,
Both votes were well above the two-thirds needed to override a veto. But since both Houses must override the veto to block the sale again, the Administration concentrated on the Republic-an-controlled
The Administration’s position was helped on Tuesday when Saudi Arabia withdrew its request for 800 Stinger shoulder-fired ground-to-air missiles. This had been the most controversial part of the $354 million arms
Reagan’s veto message was accompanied by a letter to Dole confirming that the Stinger would be eliminated from the sale. The Saudis would still receive 1,666 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and 100 Harpoon air-to-sea missiles at a cost
INJECTION OF JEWISH ISSUE CRITICIZED
Meanwhile, Sen. Alan Cranston (D. Cal.), who led the opposition to the sale, criticized
The government of Israel and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), while voicing opposition to the sale, did not campaign against it. Some Jewish groups, however, such as the Zionist
Sen. Richard Lugar (D. Ind.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, suggested to Reagan last week that he seek the active support of the sale from Jewish leaders.
The Administration did appear to be taking this advice, but then after the death last Saturday of Yehuda Hellman — executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major
Speakes said the Administration was only trying to explain its Mideast policy to the Jewish leaders as it does periodically. The arms sale was explained and Jewish support was not specifically asked for when the President met
PRELUDETO A MORE IMPORTANT BATTLE
The fight over the arms sale is only a prelude to what may be a more important battle
Reagan at the time promised that he would certify that the Saudis were helpful in the peace process. But one of the major arguments by Congressional opponents of the arms sale was that the Saudis have hindered the
Opponents also expressed anger that the Saudis bankroll the Palestine Liberation Organization and Syria and criticized the U.S. raid on Libya.
Reagan, in his veto message, said rejecting the missile sale “would send the worst possible message as to America’s dependability and courage.” He argued that the Saudis had worked behind the scenes “to combat terrorism, which is as much, if not more, of a