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On this day the first of two Senate votes was scheduled to take place over the budget President Reagan requested in order to build 21 more MX Missiles. The vote was deemed so critical and vice-President Bush was called in to supply the tie-breaker vote if it was needed.
Why all the concern? Proponents argued the additional MX Missiles were needed as a bargaining chip in the upcoming Geneva Arms talks. But many felt that argument didn’t wash, including many Republicans who weren’t clear what the MX Missiles were needed to bargain for, since the Russians offered no counter-bargaining chip. The vote was expected to be close, and if it passed this hurdle the House vote would ensure passage. The arm-twisting contained a not-so-thinly-veiled threat from the White House that those Republicans who voted against the bill wouldn’t get any help in the upcoming elections.
Meanwhile, and somewhat ironic – Nuclear Arms reduction talks were underway in Geneva this day. The outcome of the vote was being closely watched by both U.S. and Soviet negotiators. And many back home feared a rejection of the funding package would send the wrong signal to the Soviets, who would see the no-vote as hurting the American position at the bargaining table.
But the MX question was only one aspect putting the talks under a cloud. The question of Space weapons loomed high, with the Soviets accusing the U.S. negotiator of back away from a promise to put the purported Star Wars Missile defense system on the table. The U.S. in turn accused the Soviets of breaching the confidentiality of the negotiations. And the talks started this day with the announcement that Belgium would go ahead with the deployment of U.S. Cruise Missiles; an announcement which prompted Soviet officials to walk out of the negotiations in 1983.
Back home the problems were financial, as Ohio lawmakers sought to re-open privately insured Savings and Loans which had closed a week earlier in an effort to halt a run by nervous depositors. A move earlier in the day by State Senate Democrats and Republicans clashed, blocking approval of a bailout plan. The Republicans revised a House-passed measure requiring the 71 financial institutions to apply for federal insurance, while meeting a set of state standards before being allowed to reopen. The Democrats countered that it left too much discretion to the State and refused to support it. The Savings and Loans were closed until Wednesday (the next day) by Executive Order and many felt that, once the Savings and Loans re-opened, many feared there would be a run no matter what. And the State Senate was trying to avoid that. The Savings and Loan fracas was triggered by Home State Savings bank of Cincinnati the previous Friday, when depositors found their funds tied up and a run on the bank ensued.
In business acquisition news – the takeover of ABC by the smaller Capital Cities Group wasn’t expected to have much immediate impact on ABC Television programming, but many predicted this would have a profound affect on the Broadcasting business in general.
And the war between Iran and Iraq was continuing with missile attacks and air-raid reprisals going on between Baghdad and Tehran.
That’s a small slice of what went on, this otherwise contentious March 19th in 1985 – as reported by the CBS World News Roundup.