Rep. Clement J. Zablocki (D-Wis.) yesterday denounced as "scurrilous and false" a memorandum circulated by Rep. Benjamin S. Rosenthal (D-N.Y.) that argues that he should be denied the vacant chair of the House International Relations Committee.
The memo states that Zablocki has voted against a majority of committee Democrats on most issues - including an embargo on Rhodesian chrome, U.S. military involvement in Indochina, and cutting off aid to nations that violate human rights - and that this raises questions about his leadership and judgment.
Zablocki was asked [WORD ILLEGIBLE] the memo at a meeting of the second-term House [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] interviewed [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] for open comments.
Rep. Thomas L. Ashley (D-Ohio) and [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Robert N. Giaimo (D-Conn.), veterans of 22 ad 18 years, earnestly solicited votes for the chair of the House Budget Committee, which, will be decided at a caucus of all House Democrats today. Rep. Fortney H. Stark (D-Calif.), a three-term member, wants to run for the vacant chair but must first be elected a member of the committee at the caucus. He is hoping the younger members can make him a winner.
Zablocki, in the House 28 years, has been waiting 18 years as second-ranking International Relations Committee. He was polite to new members even when they were somewhat less than gentle with him.
Zablocki said he believed at the base of Rosenthal's opposition was a "feeling that I'm not friendly enough toward the state of Israel," Zablocki said he had been a consistent supporter of Israel but has been opposed to recent arms deliveries to Israel, Arab states and other nations on grounds that selling arms is not the way to peace.
Freshman Cecil Heftel (D-Hawaii), asked Zablocki if he knew the average amount of income Israelis pay in taxes.
"Thirty per cent" said Zablocki.
"It is 60 per cent, sir", retorted Heftel, and Zablocki stood silent.
Rosenthal's memo said Zablocki had received an honorary degree from a Korean university, an act that has been lumped into the area of alleged improper gifts to U.S. congressmen. Zablocki said he had received a degree from a Jesuit college in Seoul - not a Korean university - that is the sister college to his alma mater, Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Rep. Andrew Maguire (D-N.J.), a second-termer, pressed Zablocki to say that as chairman of the committee he would accept no honorary degrees from any university outside the United States. Zablocki conceded that a degree from a government university would raise a question as to whether it was trying to buy favor, but refused to rule out all degrees.
Zablocki is most proud of his role in writing the War Powers Act of 1973, which provided machinery to limit a President's power to wage undeclared war. Rosenthal's memo said the act was so weak it could have been writen in the White House.
Zablocki said the memo erroneously stated that he voted in one case to continue imports of Rhodesian chrome when in fact he opposed it.
He complained that Rosenthal had picked selective issues that distort his overall voting record. Congressional Quarterly said Zablocki's record on all House votes in the last Congress was 81 per cent in support of the Democratic position; the party average was 76 per cent.