THE PASSING OF CONGRESSMAN CHARLES VANIK; Congressional Record Vol. 153, No. 130
(Extensions of Remarks - September 05, 2007)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1804-E1805]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                         HON. ALCEE L. HASTINGS

                               of florida

                    in the house of representatives

                      Wednesday, September 5, 2007

  Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Madam Speaker, just before Congress returned 
to session this week, our Nation lost a gentleman who served with 
distinction in this body for 26 years and whose name became forever 
associated with the human rights struggle in the former Soviet Union.
  Congressman Charles Vanik served his constituents of the Cleveland, 
OH, area from 1955 to 1981. In 1968, he voluntarily gave up his seat in 
a district that had become primarily African-American to allow my good 
friend and our former colleague, Mr. Louis Stokes, an opportunity to 
serve in the Congress. It says something for Mr. Vanik's reputation as 
a conscientious and hard-working Member that he could switch to a 
nearby district, defeat a long-time incumbent of the other major party, 
and return to Congress.
  I did not know Mr. Vanik personally, but as Chairman of the Helsinki 
Commission, I am particularly familiar with his contribution to the 
struggle to allow Soviet Jews to leave the Soviet Union and emigrate to 
  In the early 1970s, Soviet Jews who wished to emigrate to Israel 
faced government harassment and even prison terms in one of the many 
labor camps stretched along the eleven time zones of the Soviet Union. 
This issue became especially acute in 1972 when the Soviet government 
announced it would level an onerous ``education tax'' on Soviet Jews 
who wished to emigrate. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade of the 
House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Vanik stepped up to sponsor an 
amendment to the Trade Reform Bill of 1974 introduced by Senator Henry 
Jackson of Washington State. This amendment linked awarding Most 
Favored Nation trade status to a nation's record on unhindered 
emigration for its citizens. President Nixon and Mr. Kissinger didn't 
like it, but it was a law whose time had come.
  In the years that followed its passage, through detente and the tense 
days of United States-Soviet relations in the early 1980s, the Jackson-
Vanik Amendment became a powerful symbol of the Congress' determination 
to see that the Soviet Union lived up to the Helsinki Accords.
  Today, Madam Speaker, the Cold War is over, the Soviet Union is 
happily no more, Jewish citizens of Russia, the successor state to the 
Soviet Union, are free to emigrate to Israel or any other nation that 
will grant an entry visa.

[[Page E1805]]

  Ironically, Congress has not yet fully ``graduated'' Russia from the 
provisions of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. I do hope that, regardless 
of the many difficulties in relations with Russia that we are now 
experiencing, we will be able to do so in the near future. I am sure 
Chairman Vanik would agree with me.
  Madam Speaker, although I was not acquainted with Chairman Vanik, I 
know that he left a legacy of deep respect when he retired from this 
august body. May we all serve our constituents, our Nation, and all 
those with whom we share this planet as conscientiously as he did.