189. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for International Economic Affairs (Flanigan) to Secretary of State Kissinger1
- Thursday2 Morning Discussion with Congressmen Albert, O’Neill and Ford
- The timetable for House action on the Trade Bill calls for passage at the end of next week. (Rules Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, October 16; Floor vote on Rules on Thursday, October 18, Floor vote on Bill on Friday, October 19.) The current vote count indicates a Rule which will open the MFN issue, and a Floor vote to prohibit the extension of credit by the US to the USSR.
An effort has been made with Ullman, acting Chairman of Ways and Means, to delay the schedule for two weeks in order to: (a) allow pressure from Jewish leaders to work on House members. Garment has contacted the President of the major Jewish organizations, and others, who have agreed to urge members that now is not the time to exacerbate US–USSR relations by a Jackson–Vanik vote. (b) Hopefully remove this emotional vote from the current context of the Mideast war.3
Ullman has so far declined to seek a delay. Ullman believes that hard-line anti-Communists and labor union supporters have joined the pro-Jewish supporters of Jackson–Vanik, and that this coalition cannot be beaten during a two week delay.
- You should impress on the House leaders the enormous damage that could flow from a House action at this time that is seen by the Soviets as antagonistic. You should point out that it would diminish our tenuous ability to influence the Soviets’ involvement in the Mideast and might push them into more active support of the Arabs.
This would not only be detrimental to the Israeli cause, but would have serious implications for the West’s oil supplies.
To avoid this, you should investigate with the leaders the possibility of not opening the Rule to allow the amendment prohibiting US credits to the USSR. The House Parliamentarian ruled this out of order for Ways and Means, so a case can be made that it should not be brought up without proper Committee consideration. This would allow the Bill to be brought to a vote without risking the inclusion of an amendment prohibiting US credits to the USSR. (Joe Waggoner4 believes this is possible.)
If the leaders think this is impossible given the current schedule, you should then urge them to delay taking the Trade Bill to the Rules Committee for two weeks, to provide more time for outside voices to be heard by the members.5
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 318, Subject Files, Congressional, Vol #10, September 1973 (2 of 2). No classification marking. Sent under cover of an October 10 note from Scowcroft to Kissinger that reads: “Peter asked that the attached be provided for your breakfast meeting. His facts are correct, but I think we need to push for a delay in any event, regardless of a decision on the Rule.”↩
- October 11.↩
- On October 6, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a surprise attack against Israel. The ensuing conflict lasted until the conclusion of a cease-fire agreement on November 11.↩
- Representative Joe D. Waggoner (D–Louisiana).↩
- On October 11, Kissinger secured Congressional agreement to delay House consideration of the trade bill until October 24 or 25. (The New York Times, October 12, 1973, p. 15) House leaders subsequently agreed to a further delay, again at the behest of the White House. (Ibid., October 30, 1973, p. 1) On October 29, in a telephone conversation with Albert at 5:29 p.m., Kissinger summarized the administration’s dilemma: “If we can get the Jewish community to favor dropping title IV, then we would like to have the discussion now. If we cannot do that, we would prefer to defer it because the President would be forced to veto any bill with the amendment as it now stands.” Kissinger then asked for, and Albert agreed to, 2 days in which to convince Jewish community leaders to drop Title IV. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 23)↩