The Senate, voting 88 to 4 joined the House yesterday in urging that the United States boycott this summer's Olympic Games unless they are moved out of Moscow or postponed.
The Senate action, coming on the heels of a 386-to-12 House vote last week in favor of a similar resolution, puts Congress solidly behind President Carter, who has called on U.S. Opympic officials to spurn Moscow as the Games' host city to protest the Sovient invasion of Afghanistan.
The four dissenters were Sens. Rudy Boschwitz (R-Minn.), Mark O. Hatfield (R-Ore.), Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Paul E. Tosongas (D-Mass.).
The Senate resolution went beyound the House version in urging the State Department to "intensify efforts" to rally other nations behind the U.S. position and in calling for consideration of permanent sites for the games, including Greece as the location for the Summer Games.
By dropping any reference to the Feb. 20 deadline that Carter had given for the removal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, the Senate acknowedged that any such hope has been virtually abandoned.
In recommending unconditional language, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee felt that "the decision to boycott the Moscow games should be a clear policy stand, a firm response to the invasion itself and to the fact that the Soviet breach of international law made it unfit to host games whose high aim is the promotion of international goodwill and peaceful competition," said Committee Chairman Frank Church (D-Idaho). It would be "improper to tie our position of principle to a goal we did not realistically hope to obtain," he added.
Senators also held out little if any hope that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would go along with a proposal approved last weekend by the U.S.Olympic Committee (USOC) that the games be transferred, delayed or canceled. The IOC has shown no interest in the idea.
However, a House subcommittee on transporation and commerce scheduled hearings today on the possibility of moving the games to an alternative site, saying it was doing so at the request of the administration.
Subcommittee Chairman James J. Florio (D-N.J.) said options include "offering the USOC other appropriate sits [for] alternative games in a Free World nation." A subcommittee aide said the possibility of permanent sites will be explored.
Supporters of the Senate resolution spanned the idealogical spectrum from Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.) to Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.).
The opponents, except for Stevens, who argued at some length on Monday that any boycott decision should be left to the athletes, said little.In a brief speech, Boschwitz questioned the effectiveness of such a resolution on Soviet intentions and said people should travel to Moscow to "see what a closed society is really like."
Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.), the only former Olympic athlete currently in Congress, acknowledged the resolution was unlikely to result in removal of the Games from Moscow and said U.S. abstention from the competition would be a "painful" but necessary step. Said Bradley: "The imperatives of a Free World order are more important than the imperatives of the playing field."
The House and Senate resolutions are nonbinding and contemplate no coercive action, such as passport restrictions, to bar travel to Moscow by athletes or spectators. Several senators voiced opposition to any such restrictions, and Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher said Monday the administration has "no present intention" of imposing travel restrictions.
However, the House and Senate votes, along with the president's position, are expected to carry considerable weight in influencing USCO action on whether to participate in the Games if the IOC refuses to move the Games out of Moscow. The USOC did not grapple with the boycott issue at meeting last weekend.
A House Foreign Affaris Committee staff member said the two resolutions will be left to stand on their own, with the Senate version serving as an updating of the House provisions. The difference were deemed insufficient to merit an attempt to reconcile them, the aide said.