WASHINGTON -- In an expected yet unusual setback for Israel and its advocates on Capitol Hill, senators formally acceded yesterday to President Bush's request for a 120-day postponement of consideration of Israeli loan guarantees.
While 70 senators sponsored theproposal to offer the $10 billion in guarantees to help resettle Soviet Jews, Sens. Bob Kasten, R-Wis., and Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, declared that they would not force an embarrassing showdown with the White House.
The number of sponsors would have been enough to override a veto threatened by Mr. Bush.
"It is clear to us that our colleagues do not wish a confrontation over the issue of delay," Mr. Kasten, secretary of the Republican Senatorial Conference, said on the Senate floor. He added that "the president and other high officials of the administration have been, by and large, positive on the substance of absorption guarantees."
Mr. Inouye, chairman of the Democratic Steering Committee, said, "We believe that the president recognizes the urgency of resettlement."
In a statement pledging support for Israel, House and Senate Democratic leaders said they would give "careful consideration" to the matter when Congress convenes early next year.