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July 07, 1989 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-07-07

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

INSIDE WASHINGTON

SEMI-ANNUAL

Jewish Groups Very Active
As House Tackles Aid Bill

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I

n crafting a foreign aid
bill, the headlines often
obscure the intensive
grunt-work that goes into the
complex process.
Last week, Jewish groups
like the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee
(AIPAC) and the Anti-
Defamation League of B'nai
B'rith were extraordinarily
active as the House wrestled
with it's massive $11.5 billion
foreign aid authorization bill.
"There's been a tremendous
amount of detail work," said
one Jewish activist. "There
was a constant threat of
amendments affecting Israel;
our job was to work quietly to
see that these were not in-
troduced, and to line up sup-
port so that if they were,
they'd be defeated with a
minimum of fuss."
As the bill moved closer to
action on the House floor,
Jewish activists kept a wary
eye on a number of obscure
parts of the bill, including
Rep. Larry Smith's provision
requiring the State Depart-
ment to report on the
cumulative effect of arms
sales to Arab countries and
their impact on Israel.

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26

JAMES D. BESSER

Rep. Broomfield:
Exclusion for Israel.

But the main focus was on
the possibility of across-the-
board cuts to bring the pro-
gram in line with deficit
reduction requirements. For
weeks, there had been talk
about an amendment plann-
ed by Rep. James A. Trafi-
cant, (D-Ohio), which would
not exempt the huge chunks
of money earmarked for Israel
and Egypt from cuts.
But Traficant's amendment
never had a chance. Last
week, Rep. Dante Fascell, (D-
Fla). and Rep. William

S.Broomfield, (R-Mich.), suc-
cessfully pushed a $370
million across-the-board cut
that specifically excluded the
two countries.
In fact, the foreign aid
authorization measure pass-
ed by a record margin 314 to
101.
But the foreign aid battle is
far from over. The Senate has
yet to craft a foreign aid bill;
in the past, the upper house
has tended to duck the whole
issue.

Bill Would
Limit Family
Immigrations

As the Senate continues to
tiptoe through the political
minefield of immigration
reform, Jewish groups have
taken on an increasingly pro-
minent role.
The American Jewish Com-
mittee has been pushing hard
for changes in a major im-
migration bill sponsored by
Sen. Edward Kennedy, (D-
Mass.), and Sen. Alan Simp-
son, (R-Wyo.).
According to Judy Golub,
the group's assistant
Washington representative,
the current version of the
Kennedy-Simpson bill has
several disturbing elements,
including language which
could severely curtail family
reunification as a factor in
determining who can enter
the United States as
immigrant.
The AJCommittee has also
worked vigorously to oppose
an amendment that would
have given added weight to a
prospective immigrant's abili-
ty to speak English in the ap-
plication process. At recent
hearings, Sen. Arlen Specter,
(R-Pa.), spoke eloquently of
his own parents' inability to
speak English when they ar-
rived as immigrants.
The biggest problem in the
bill, according to Golub, in-
volves the questions of caps
and offsets. As reported out by
the Judiciary Committee, the
measure introduces an
overall ceiling on legal
immigration.
In the past, members of the
immediate families of im-
migrants had been admitted
without limitation; more dis-
tant relatives have been ad-
mitted under a series of
preferences."
Under the new scheme, im-
migration by immediate fami-
ly members would be limited
for the first time. To compen-
sate, the bill proposes an "off-
set" — a corresponding reduc-

tion in family members ad-
mitted under the preference
system.
"This would be very
destructive to the families of
immigrants," Golub said.
"The Government Accoun-
ting Office has done a study
showing that, under this
plan, family preference im-
migration would virtually
cease by the end of the decade.
We view this as a very anti-
family piece of legislation."
The AJCommittee is work-
ing closely with a broad coali-
tion of groups, including the
American Immigration
Lawyers Association and a
group of Chinese Americans.
The bill is slated for action
in the Senate after the July
4 recess. Although the
AJCommittee continues to
work with Senate offices on
the Kennedy-Kasten bill,
they are more enthusiastic
about a House measure,
authored by Rep. Howard Ber-
man, (D-Calif.). It is expected
that a final immigration
reform package will probably
be worked out in conference.

Lantos Pushes
For Sanctions
On China

China has been front and
center on the Congressional
agenda in recent days, and
Jewish legislators have been
major players in the debate
over how to respond to the
massacre in Tiananmen
Square.
Rep. Stephen Solarz, (D-
N.Y.), chairman of the House
subcommittee on Asian and
Pacific Affairs, has been one
of the Hill's most vocal critics
of the actions of the Chinese
government and a chief sup-
porter of an amendment to
the foreign aid bill imposing
sanctions on the Beijing
government that would go
well beyond the go-slow ap-
proach advocated by Presi-
dent George Bush.
The amendment, passed by
the House last week, would
impose a variety of sanctions,
including a ban on the export
of certain high-tech items and
a suspension of government
guarantees for private
investments.
Rep. Ben Gilman, (R-N.Y.),
who serves on the House
human rights subcommittee,
participated in a recent
march by several legislators
to the Chinese Embassy to
protest the massacre in
Tiananmen Square and the
crackdown on pro-democracy
forces.

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