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The 60 Harvard students who spent last Monday and Tuesday lobbying members of Congress on antiwar legislation found their legislators easy to get to, but hard to get through to.
An assistant to Sen. Edward Brooke (R-Mass.) pointed out: "Congress has abdicated a large part of its power, partly because it can't seem to agree on anything." With such internal confusion, does lobbying help?
"The Democratic Caucus restricting Nixon's war powers happened only because of lobbying." Mark Talisman, administrative assistant to Rep. Charles Vanik (D-Ohio) told the students at a briefing Monday morning. "If that isn't proof. I don't know what is."
The lobbyists concentrated both on persuading Congressmen to co-sponsor the Drinan-Gravel Resolution--which is still frozen in committee-- and on urging undecided, or "swing," senators to vote down the Byrd Amendment to the pending Case-Church Amendment. The Byrd Amendment makes cutoff of Congressional funds contingent upon a ceasefire agreement, and lobbyists felt it greatly weakened the original move. But Washington did some lobbying of its own. Tuesday morning Administration officials, including Presidential Adviser Henry A. Kissinger '50 and Secretary of State William P. Rogers, met with selected "swing" Senators. Tuesday afternoon the Byrd Amendment passed, 47-43.
Congressional reaction to the lobbyists varied from Vanik's offer of his office as a coordinating center, to Rep. Fletcher Thompson's (R-Ga.) comment to a student. "If you love Hanoi so much why don't you go there. As a matter of fact I'll get you a one-way ticket."
In some cases, what aides to the Senators said differed greatly from what the Senators themselves said. A legislative aide to Sen. James B. Pearson (R-Kan.) assured students of the validity of their arguments against the Byrd Amendment. Pearson voted for it a few hours later.
One congressman, asked his opinion on the Drinan-Gravel resolution, told his constituent, "I'm on a different committee--I don't deal with National Interests."
The prevailing attitude of Congress, however, seems to be wait and see as the meeting with Moscow approaches.
"Several of us, myself included, believe the Soviets and Kissinger made a deal," an aide to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told a group of students Monday afternoon. "That's why this town is laying back."
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