WASHINGTON, D.C. — When the House of Representatives voted last month to gut anti-terrorism legislation, Jewish activists went head-to-head with the measure's loudest critic in Congress to protest the move.
A meeting with Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) proved to be a turning point in the 18-month quest to win congressional support for counter terrorism legislation.
"The terrorism bill can now be called a terrorism bill once again," said an official from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the major pro-Israel lobby.
After meeting with AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League, Barr dropped his opposition to key provisions of the legislation, aimed at curbing international terrorism. The provisions had been championed by Jewish groups and the Clinton administration.
"We told Barr about our concerns and showed how they can be accomplished without damaging civil liberties protections," said Jess Hordes, Washington, D.C., director of the ADL.
Barr, who led the fight last month against the measure on the House floor, did not object to a proposal by House and Senate negotiators to reinstate a ban on fund-raising by foreign terrorist groups, expedite deportations of terrorists and bar suspected terrorists from entering the United States.
In addition, activists say, pressure by Republican presidential hopeful and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) played a key role in resurrecting the legislation.
"They realized that what happened went too far," Hordes said, referring to the House's decision to strip the measure of its counterterrorism provisions.
Congress is expected to pass the compromise measure this week to commemorate the one-year ann-iversary of the April 19 Oklahoma City bombing.
President Clinton has said he would sign the measure.
But not all Jewish groups are supporting the legislation.
The Union of American Hebrew Congregations has asked members of Congress to vote against the measure because the bill would impose new limits on appeals by death row inmates.
While many Jewish groups oppose the provisions known as habeas corpus reform, only the UAHC, the Reform movement's umbrella organization, is opposing the bill.