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June 09, 1989 - Image 29

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-06-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Les Aspin:
On docket.

range of domestic issues are
hoping that the bloodletting
in Congress has run its
course.
"It's a terrible situation,"
said one Washington
representative for a major
Jewish organization. "We
went into this year with a
long list of bills we felt were
critical — child care,
minimum wage, parental
leave and so on. But the
ethics crisis has gummed up
the works; nothing is moving,
and we're looking at the pro-
spect that the rest of the
legislative year will be
monopolized by the budget.
Getting Congress to focus on
anything this year is like
pushing a rope; we're all pret-
ty frustrated."
Other observers point out
that the recent spate of scan-
dals has choked off the bud-
ding Congressional effort to
help shape this country's
changing Middle East policy
— and especially the emerg-
ing dialogue with the
Palestine Liberation
Organization.

NCSJ Is
Moving Slowly
On Trade Bill

As the battle over a possible
waiver of the Jackson-Vanik
trade restrictions on the
Soviet Union heats up, the

man at the epicenter is Mark
Levin, Washington represen-
tative for the National Con-
ference on Soviet Jewry
(NCSJ).
Levin, a nine-year veteran
at NCSJ, is responsible for
maintaining focus on a wide
range of issues at a time
when Jackson-Vanik looks
like the only game in town.
"We're
feeling
the
pressure," Levin said. "We
realize that we are part of a
larger agenda within Soviet-
American relations. But our
job is still the same — putting
all the ingredients into a pot,
and coming out with
something that's finished."
In recent months, NCSJ
has been under intense
pressure to abandon its
cautious approach to a
Jackson-Vanik waiver. Some
member groups, led by the
American Jewish Congress,
have publicly called for a
waiver, a sentiment increas-
ingly mirrored in Congress.
The recent administration
decision to ease restrictions
imposed after the Soviet inva-
sion of Afghanistan has add-
ed to the pressure.
But Levin continues to see
advantages to caution. "I'd
rather have people complain
about us waiting too long,
than complain that they
weren't part of the decision,"
he said.
The quest for consensus,
Levin said, is also a critical
factor. "We need to speak
with one voice. Experience
tells me it won't happen. But
it's still important that we
allow for the widest,
thoroughest debate; if we do
that, we will have succeeded
and our impact on policy will
be the greatest."
While Jackson-Vanik con-
tinues to be thrashed out in
public forums, Levin is work-
ing behind the scenes with
administration officials to en-
sure that whatever the out-
come of the debate, the in-
terests of Soviet Jews will re-
main a top priority for
government policy-makers. ❑

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in town to focus on the chang-
ing U.S. relations with the
Soviet Union. Meetings were
also scheduled with Rep. Les
Aspin, (D-Wis.), Rep. Steny
Hoyer, (D-Md.), and with the
Soviet ambassador.
Meanwhile, Jewish ac-
tivists involved in a wide

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

29

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