The sanctions were brought about by the Senate 78 to 21, the House by 313 to 83, which overrode President Ronald Reagan’s veto. This override marked the 1st time in the 20th century that a President had a foreign policy veto overridden. Apartheid opponents in America and South Africa applauded the vote, while critics argued that it would be either ineffectual or lead to more violence.
The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 was a law enacted by the United States Congress. With support from the Congressional Black Caucus and Rep. Howard Wolpe, chair of the House Africa Subcommittee, the law was the first United States anti-apartheid legislation.
The act was initiated in reaction to the plight of blacks in South Africa and demanded the end of apartheid. The legislation was passed in 1986 and imposed sanctions against South Africa and stated five preconditions for lifting the sanctions, including establishing a timetable for the elimination of apartheid laws and the release of political prisoner Nelson Mandela.
Reagan stated that he believed that the law’s punitive sanctions would lead to more violence and more repression in South Africa. In the week leading up to the vote, President Reagan appealed to members of the Republican Party for support, but as Senator Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. would state, “For this moment, at least, the President has become an irrelevancy to the ideals, heartfelt and spoken, of America”.