811.113 Senate Investigation/246

Memorandum by Mr. Joseph C. Green of the Division of Western European Affairs

In compliance with the Secretary’s request, I called on Senator Nye in his office this morning. I found the Munitions Committee in executive session. All members of the Committee were present except Senator Vandenberg.

I told the Committee that when I had received from Mr. Raushenbush an intimation that the Committee was contemplating inviting the Secretary to appear before it in executive session to discuss neutrality legislation, I had informed the Secretary that such an invitation [Page 340] might be forthcoming. I said that the Secretary was anxious to cooperate with the Committee in every possible way, as he had ever since its organization, but that he had been informed that the Chairman and some members of the Foreign Relations Committee did not agree with the Munitions Committee’s interpretation of its jurisdiction in respect to neutrality legislation, as expressed in Article IV of its report to the Senate. I said that, in these circumstances, the Secretary might be seriously embarrassed if the Committee were to invite him to appear before it to discuss neutrality legislation. I, therefore, suggested that the Committee might wish, through discussion with the Committee on Foreign Relations, to clear up this question of jurisdiction before sending any invitation to the Secretary.

Several members of the Committee replied. The substance of their remarks was identical. They all said that they thoroughly appreciated the embarrassment in which the Secretary would be placed if the contemplated invitation were sent to him, and that the Committee should refrain from sending such an invitation, at least until the question of jurisdiction was entirely settled to the satisfaction of the Committee on Foreign Relations. Senator Nye said that he wished that the Committee could wash its hands of the whole question of neutrality legislation; that the Committee had never contemplated dealing with such legislation until “the President laid it on our doorstep”. He said that the Committee had plenty to do without attempting to deal with such a complicated matter and that he, for his part, would be glad to turn the whole thing over to the Committee on Foreign Relations. All of the members of the Committee present concurred in this view.

In regard to the question of jurisdiction, the Committee was unanimous in the opinion that the Resolution by which the Committee was created was sufficiently broad to justify it in presenting legislation on the question of neutrality if it so desired. Nevertheless, they felt that, as a matter of practical politics, it would be highly undesirable for the Committee to antagonize Senators Pittman and Borah. A motion was made and carried unanimously that Senator Nye should be directed to confer with Senators Pittman and Borah, with a view to settling the question of jurisdiction. The hope was expressed that he might be able to persuade them to undertake a discussion of neutrality questions in the Committee on Foreign Relations, and so relieve the Munitions Committee of all responsibility in this field.

I learned incidentally that the President had asked the Committee to confer with him, but that one of his secretaries had called up this morning and had postponed the conference, for which no date has as yet been fixed.

Joseph C. Green