WASHINGTON (May. 16)
The Soviet legislature appears to have taken a step backward Thursday in its long effort to adopt an emigration reform law.
One of the two houses of the Supreme Soviet, the Council of the Union, which approved the law Monday, failed by two votes to adopt it Thursday. The other chamber, the Council of Nations, was 12 votes short when it voted Monday.
News of the votes was reported by the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, a coalition of Soviet Jewry advocacy groups.
The Supreme Soviet is expected to try again to adopt the legislation that would codify emigration reforms, many of them now in practice.
The National Conference on Soviet Jewry said it was told another vote could come as early as Monday or could be delayed to next month.
The vote Thursday was on approving the law in principle and allowing the government to work out details. Even if adopted, it would not go into effect until July 1992.
Until the law is passed, President Bush will not ask Congress to ratify a trade pact he signed last year with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
Bush also has made adoption of the law a condition for waiving sanctions contained in the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the U.S. Trade Act of 1974, which denies U.S. trade benefits to the Soviets until emigration reforms are in place.
However, the president granted a partial waiver of Jackson-Vanik sanctions last year to allow the Soviet Union to get $1 billion in credits for agricultural products to prevent starvation.
The Senate voted Wednesday to urge Bush to grant the Soviets another $1.5 billion in credit guarantees to buy agricultural products.