Tracking Number:  421976

Title:  "Congress Members Boycott Chirac Speech over Nuclear Tests." In protest against French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, several lawmakers boycotted French President Jacques Chirac's address to a joint session of Congress. (960201)

Date:  19960201


02/01/96 CONGRESS MEMBERS BOYCOTT CHIRAC SPEECH OVER NUCLEAR TESTS (FR) (Article on 2/1/96 boycott of Chirac's address) (320) By Peggy Hu USIA Staff Writer WASHINGTON -- Several members of Congress boycotted French President Jacques Chirac's February 1 speech to joint session of Congress to protest French nuclear testing in the South Pacific despite Chirac's January 29 announcement that France would stop all future testing in the region.

According to wire reports, only about 25 of the 100 senators and 25 to 30 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives attended the speech, although not all absences were due to the boycott. Only about 30 of the 197 House Democrats attended the speech.

"I'm sure our efforts were responsible for at least 100 missing membersí," Representative Patsy Mink (Democrat of Hawaii) told the wire services after Chirac's speech.

The boycott was supported by an informal coalition of South Pacific House members, the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses, and anti-nuclear members, the February 1 issue of Roll Call reported.

Speaking at a February 1 news conference, Delegate Robert Underwood (Democrat of Guam) said President Chirac's January 29 announcement "does not exonerate him for this past decision to test these weapons in spite of the environmental contamination that even he recently acknowledged."

"President Chirac has lost all credibility and, by speaking before Congress today, he is trying to win back that credibility," Underwood said. "President Chirac does not deserve an audience as honorable as the United States Congress."

At the same news conference, Mink said she hoped the boycott would be extended to the White House state dinner for Chirac.

Mink unsuccessfully attempted to introduce a resolution January 31 that would have withdrawn Chirac's invitation to speak before the joint session. Mink's resolution said Chirac's appearance "violates the dignity and integrity of the proceedings." The resolution was jointly introduced by Representative Patricia Schroeder (Democrat of Colorado) and Delegates Underwood and Eni Faleomavaega (Democrat of American Samoa).