A bill to curb participation by U.S. firms in the Arab trade boycott against Israel passed the Senate 90 to 1 yesterday, after a White House backed compromise on the boycott language was adopted without dissent.
The compromise was sponsored by John Heinz (R-Pa.)a nd Adlai E. Stevenson (D-Ill.), the bill's floor manager. It was worked out by the Business Roundtable, representing business groups, and the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress and Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.
The House on April 20 passed a similar bill but without the compromise language and with broader exemptions from the anti-boycott provisions.
The overall bill is a new version of the Export Administration Act, which expired last Sept. 30, but with substantial changes to ease the Cold War character of the earlier legislation.
The basic language extends the President's authority to bar any exports to any country until Sept. 30, 1979, if such exports would be harmful to national security or other national interests.
But it specifies that whether a country is Communist or not shouldn't be the sole determinant of whether it can receive exports.
Jesse A. Helms (R-N.C.), said he voted against passage because he fears heavy exports of high-technology items to Communist countries.
The Senate defeated, 66 tp 27, an amendment by John Durkin (D-N.H.) barring any sale of Alaska oil to Japan, lest it reduce U.S. supplies. The amendment is already in the House bill.
The anti-boycott provisions bar U.S. businesses from complying with Arab demands that as a condition of doing business with Arab nations, they cease selling to Israel, cease doing business with U.S. Jewish-owned firms, cease hiring Jews and furnish information to the Arabs on the religion of their officers and employees and whether they contribute to Jewish charities.
The bill contains several exemptions to these rules. They were worked out in the final compromise and include:
A firm selling to an Arab country would be allowed to comply with that country's demand that Israeli-made goods not be sent them.
It would also be allowed to comply with a request that specific products identified by the buyer by name by sent then filling an order. if the buyer said "send us a tire which isn't made by a black-listed or Jewish firm," the seller couldn't comply. But if the buyer specifies the brand of the tire the seller could comply. This exemption applies only to readily identifiable objects such as tires. The buyer couldn't specify the brand on hard-to-identify machine components such as paint, sheet metal and small screws.
Another exemption would permit U.S. firms in an Arab country - in order to comply with rules there - to import for their own use (and not for resale) specifically named brands of goods. Thus a U.S. oil company needing drilling equipment could specify the brand it wants and thus avoid buying from a black-listed firm.