WASHINGTON (Nov. 8)
House Speaker Carl Albert (D.Okla.) acting at President Nixon’s personal request, has for the second time postponed House consideration of the Trade Reform Act of 1973 because of the Mills-Vanik proposals affecting Soviet emigration policy tied to it. In accepting the President’s request, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was informed, Albert indicated he would postpone calling up the bill for debate for one week, from the legislative period beginning Nov. 12 to the period starting Nov. 19. Later, the White House for the first time publicly linked the Nixon request for delay on the bill to the Soviet-American negotiations on the Middle East crisis.
The trade bill originally, had been scheduled for final action October 18 but was postponed when Nixon asked Albert and House Majority Leader Thomas P. O’Neill (D.Mass.) not to bring it up. Both Presidential requests for delay came at Nixon’s meetings with Congressional leaders at the White House. The delays are caused by the overwhelming support in the House to enact the Mills-Vanik proposal embodied in the act’s Title Four prohibiting most favored nation status to the Soviet Union until it relaxes emigration restrictions. Sentiment in the House, grown even larger by Soviet actions in the Mideast, also favors approval of the amendment readied by Rep. Charles A. Vanik (D.Ohio) banning credits to the Soviet Union. The Vanik motion, if adopted, would restore the Mills-Vanik proposal to its original form and again be identical with the Jackson Amendment in the Senate.
Nixon’s request to Albert follows the refusal of several American Jewish organization leaders to budge from their insistence that Congress adopt the Jackson Amendment and the Mills-Vanik measure on the emigration issue. Their refusal was reported to have followed feelers put out by Administration supporters to the Jewish organization leaders not to press Congress to adopt the measures but to go along with dropping Title Four. The JTA reported Tuesday that at a meeting with Senators Henry M. Jackson (D.Wash.) and Abraham Ribicoff (D.Conn.) the heads of four Jewish groups declared their continued full support for the J/MV proposals.
The White House request was reported to have been tied to mollifying the Soviet Union on credits and MFN and thereby get a better view from the Kremlin towards the Israeli position in the Middle East. The White House implicitly indicated that yesterday. White House assistant press secretary Andrew Falkiewicz told the JTA that the President was “compelled” to ask Albert to “set it aside temporarily” because of “the intensive and delicate diplomatic negotiations underway looking toward a durable peace in the Middle East. Possible approval of Title Four,” Falkiewicz said, “could involve a serious threat to the success of these crucial negotiations.”