186. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
- Title V (MFN) of the Trade Bill
The attached (Tab A) paper by Bill Pearce which you received separately over the weekend lays out the issues and options. Since my brief memo (Tab B) of September 14,2 there have been these additional developments of which I am aware.
- Competing pressures by the US business community (Kendall and others) and Jewish groups as well as Soviet dissidents—Sakharov statement and attack on Lazarus by Soviet Jews3—have tended to pose the issues in terms of profits vs. humanity. Senator Jackson is scheduled to speak on the Senate floor today, with Sakharov’s well-timed plea for adoption of Jackson–Vanik as the backdrop.
- On the other hand, Richard Perle4 has contacted a Ways and Means consultant to suggest (1) the possibility of some compromise, or (2) adoption of Jackson–Vanik by Ways and Means and the House and the use of the time before Senate action to work on a compromise. Perle and Tony Solomon of the Ways and Means staff may be exploring these currently. But just what is involved is quite unclear and the upshot may well be a House Bill with Jackson–Vanik in it and no Administration leverage when Senate consideration begins for a practicable [Page 688] compromise, unless there is a major break meanwhile in Soviet conduct and/or Jewish leadership attitudes in this country.
- The ubiquitous Alkhimov is in town again. His principal mission was to get an EX–IM loan for the Moscow trade center. (I understand Kearns5 has turned this down. Alkhimov had given him a 24 hour deadline. Kearns and others apparently feel that with mortgage money in the US at 10%, EX–IM and the Administration would be extremely vulnerable were the Soviets given 6% money for what amounts to mortgages on the hotels and other buildings of the Trade Center. Alkhimov is seeing Shultz this afternoon.) The press already is reporting on Alkhimov’s presence and his meeting with Don Kendall. Overt lobbying for Title V by Alkhimov could produce a bad backlash.
The idea of delaying any action on Title V until the very end of the third reading has merit only if there is a major effort to build support for Pettis–Corman (the only remotely viable alternative to Jackson–Vanik). Failing that, delay will mean that Corman will be further deterred from sticking with the compromise, support for Jackson–Vanik will be restored and about the only option left will be to drop Title V. (This last course has much support within the Administration among those who fear that the fight over Title V could ruin the whole trade bill by opening it to crippling amendments on the House floor.)
The argument that a House Bill without Title V will permit House conferees to operate flexibly to obtain a compromise on a Senate bill that includes Jackson–Vanik has been used by Mills and others. But it is a very thin argument: the Senate might also drop Title V and then there is no MFN at all (though credits would be saved); or, more likely, the Senate might pass Jackson–Vanik so overwhelmingly that few in the House will be prepared to take the political heat to which they would be subjected were they to try for a weaker version in conference.
An Administration veto threat would produce major acrimony inside the Administration and, if carried out, might well be overridden.
In sum, delay makes sense only if there is a well-coordinated effort to get a solid Committee vote for Pettis–Corman at the end of the delay. Otherwise, the other unpalatable options are to get whatever vote is obtainable on Wednesday6 for Pettis–Corman or for dropping Title V with an explicit commitment from Mills to take responsibility for a strong position by House conferees later on.[Page 689]
In the event of a decision to delay, there is little value in your going up to Ways and Means on Tuesday.7 Whatever impact you have will be dissipated by voting time unless you make a further appearance later, or undertake a major direct effort with individual Ways and Means members. But you may want to consider a later appearance, closer to voting time.
If it is decided to go for a vote Wednesday, your appearance Tuesday is essential, though its results would be unpredictable.
A package of material for a Tuesday appearance will be sent to you shortly, so it is available.
Note: Since completing this memo I heard from Pearce on the Hill (10:00 a.m.) that over the weekend enormous pressures were mounted against Pettis–Corman and that it is now assumed that Jackson–Vanik has 300 votes on the floor. Corman had a meeting with Jewish leaders on Friday,8 where he urged “responsibility” but ran into a stone wall. Committee members feel that Pettis–Corman would fail in the Committee, and that once Jackson–Vanik had passed, a vote to drop Title V would fail also. Pearce thinks delay is probably the only possible chance, unless your appearance Tuesday can turn the situation. But he doubts that even that can be accomplished. Pearce says that any effort to delay must be decided on promptly today or it, too, will fail.
Pearce tends to be pessimistic and, I think, generally would prefer for Title V to go away so the Bill will pass. We need Timmons for an independent judgment of the situation in Ways and Means.[Page 690]
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 403, Subject Files, Trade, Vol. VI, April 8–December 1973. Confidential; Sensitive; Outside the System. Sent for very urgent attention. Kissinger initialed the memorandum.↩
- In the memorandum at Tab B, attached but not printed, Sonnenfeldt reported on the status of the Title V issue, concluding, “Ullman and Corman seem again to be reaching the conclusion that the only viable alternatives in Committee are Jackson–Vanik or dropping Title V. The key, if there is any, is the Jewish Community. All soundings by Ways and Means people show the Washington Jewish lobbyists solidly behind Jackson–Vanik and opposed to the compromise.”↩
- On September 15, Sakharov appealed to U.S. Congressmen to support the Jackson–Vanik amendment. That same day, a group of Soviet Jews alleged that Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for East-West Trade Steven Lazarus had pressured them during a February trip to Moscow “to desist from public protest lest they endanger the Administration’s trade bill” and “to appeal to Jewish organizations in the United States to drop their support for the Jackson amendment.” (The New York Times, September 16, 1973, p. 1)↩
- Richard Perle was a staff aide to Senator Jackson.↩
- Henry Kearns was the President and Chairman of the Export-Import Bank.↩
- September 19.↩
- September 18. According to a September 13 memorandum from Timmons to Scowcroft, “The President and HAK agreed to Al Ullman–Herm Schneebeli request to brief an executive session of Ways and Means Committee next Tuesday afternoon on urgent need for MFN Soviet Union.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 317, Subject Files, Congressional, Vol #9, June–September 1973)↩
- September 14.↩
- Limited Official Use. Copies were sent to Flanigan, Eberle, Timmons, and Sonnenfeldt.↩
- Limited Official Use.↩
- Tabs A and B are attached but not printed.↩
- Printed in The New York Times, September 10, 1973, p. 1.↩
- September 14.↩