ACCESSION NUMBER:243811 FILE ID:POL106 DATE:09/21/92 TITLE:CONGRESSIONAL REPORT, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 (09/21/92) TEXT:*92092106.POL CONGRESSIONAL REPORT, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 (Defense, POW/MIAs) (630) SENATE OKAYS TEST BAN, B-2 FUNDS The Senate September 18 reaffirmed an earlier vote to suspend and eventually ban all U.S. nuclear testing by 1996. Senators voted 68-26 August 3 to stop the tests for nine months and end them permanently in four years unless Russia resumes testing. That measure was part of the Energy Department annual appropriations bill. But after Congress returned to Washington this month following its summer recess, the test ban question became the object of another tally during the Senate's debate of the Defense Department spending authorization bill. Senators voted again -- this time 55-40 -- to proceed with the suspension and eventual ban of the weapons tests. The change in the two votes is critical, because a 55-vote majority would fail to muster the two-thirds majority needed to override President Bush's promised veto of any test-ban bill. Senators accommodated the Bush administration, however, by approving outlays for the final increment in deploying squadrons of B-2 Stealth bombers. Senators voted 53-45 to fund five more B-2s, which would bring to 20 the total number scheduled to join the Air Force. Congress and the administration have agreed that no additional B-2s will be sought. The defense bill was passed less than two weeks before Congress' target adjournment date. Now, a Senate-House conference committee must begin work almost immediately in order to send a final compromise package to the president for signature before lawmakers depart October 3 to campaign for the November 3 national elections. MEN LEFT BEHIND IN INDOCHINA, SCHLESINGER, LAIRD SAY Two men who held the title secretary of defense during the Vietnam War say they have reason to believe that U.S. servicemen were left behind in Indochina. James R. Schlesinger, who served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1973 and as secretary of defense in 1973-1974, told the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs during a September 21 hearing that "I can come to no other conclusion than that men were left behind in 1973." But he added that he had no information that any are left alive today. Melvin R. Laird, who served as secretary of defense from 1969-1973, told the panel that he had had "hard intelligence" that indicated perhaps 20 U.S. servicemen were held in Laos in 1973. He said he had always had the "gut feeling" that the lists of captive U.S. servicemen provided by the Vietnamese had been incomplete. Both Laird and Schlesinger pointed to the weakness of the U.S. negotiating position with the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong at the time. Laird said there could not have been any guarantee of a satisfactory solution if the United States had made a public issue of the discrepancies in their own versus the Vietnamese lists of men believed to be captive. Winston Lord, who worked for Henry Kissinger at both the National Security Council and the State Department during the 1970s, told the committee that 1he final peace agreement between the United States and North Vietnam "was the best possible one at the time, given the mood in America and the pressures on the U.S. side.... "The president in the end decided not to scuttle the agreement and resume the war over the MIA (missing-in-action) question. It was a very difficult decision. I believed then it was a correct one. I believe that still. We did not have conclusive proof...although we had strongly suggestive intelligence that the lists were incomplete. The American society would have blown apart if the president overturned the agreement and resumed the fighting." NNNN .