The House of Representatives voted final passage yesterday of a bill already enacted by the Senate that will curtail drastically the legal immunity now enjoyed by thousands of foreign embassy personnel here.
The bill, which passed the Senate Aug 17 and was passed by the House yesterday by a 395 to 7 vote, would for the first time more than 10,000 of the approximately 19,000 foreign embassy personnel here subject to some degree to the America civil litigation process.
At the same time the measure would permit about 2,300 diplomats and their almost 6,000 family members to retain their full immunity from both prosecution and civil suits.
The bill now goes to the president for his signature.
A White House spokeswoman said she did not know whether the president had seen the bill and said that until he does see it she could not say whether he will sign it .
However a spokesman for Rep. Joseph Fisher (D-VA), one of the measure's chief sponsors, said that both the administration and the Department of State have supported it, and expressed the belief that it will Le signed into law.
The House had passed last year an immunity measure that differed in one significant respect fro m the bill the Senate passed last month by voive vote.
Both the initial House bill and the Senate bill required diplomats and their families to carry automobile liability insurance so that victims of automobile accidents that were caused by diplomats possible negligence could collect damages.
Under present law, which does not require insurance, victims of accidents caused by foreign embassy personnel have sometimes been unable to obtain compensation for injuries.
The difference between the early House bilI and the Senate bill was that the Senate measure required the diplomats insurance companies to pay accident victijs if the accident was the fault of the diplomat or a member of the diplomat's family.
In the past, some insurance companies have refused to pay damages to persons injured in accidents involving diplomats are immune from suit.
After the bill passed the Senate, it was brought back to the House to be brought into conformity with the Senatemeasure.
The bill given final passage yesterday would supplant a 1790 law that gave full immunity from civil suits and criminal prosecution to all persons attached to foreign diplomatic missions here.
It would translate into federal law the provisions of the Vienna convention, which was signed in the early 1960s by the United States and 123 other countries, and which made the degree of immunity granted diplomatic personnel communsurate with the individual's rank and duties.
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Under the measure, 8,000 diplomats and family members would retain full criminal and civil immunity. About 2, 900 members of diplomats technical and administrative staffs would retain full immunity from criminal prosecution, but would when immune from civil suit only when acting in official capacities.
The about 7,000 persons here who are family members of administrative and technical staff personnel would also retain full immunity from criminal prosecution, but would have no immunity from civil suit.