The Under Secretary of State (Phillips) to President Roosevelt

My Dear Mr. President: The Secretary and Judge Moore31 attended last week a meeting of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations at which they pointed out the necessity of caution in proceeding with the enactment of legislation which would affect our neutrality policy, and made specific criticisms of certain provisions of the two neutrality bills32 which the Committee had reported out and of the third bill33 which was still pending in the Committee. The Committee thereupon voted to recall the two former bills, to give further consideration to this legislation and to appoint a sub-committee to confer with the Department in regard to the whole subject of neutrality legislation.

I have been informed that a delegation of Senators interested in the enactment of neutrality legislation may call upon you in the near future to request you to express your views upon the subject of neutrality legislation and upon the advisability of the enactment of such legislation at the present session of Congress. A group in the Department has been at work for some time studying possible neutrality legislation and we are prepared, if you so desire, to submit to you a draft of proposed legislation which you might wish to consider before receiving the group of Senators should they call upon you.

The sub-committee appointed by the Committee on Foreign Relations may possibly request me to confer with it on this subject and I would not care to comply with such an invitation until I had received a definite expression of your wishes in the premises.

It is possible that no necessity will arise for immediate discussion of this matter with members of the Senate, but it would appear to be advisable to be prepared in case the necessity should arise. I do not wish to burden you with this problem at this time and I am writing merely as a precaution and to let you know that if you are called upon or if the State Department is called upon to take a definite stand on this matter, I should appreciate it if I could have an opportunity in advance of any meeting with the Senators to discuss the matter fully with you and to receive an expression of your views.

Faithfully yours,

William Phillips
  1. R. Walton Moore, Assistant Secretary of State.
  2. S. J. Res. 99 and S. J. Res. 100 were recommitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 11; see Congressional Record, vol. 79, pt. 10, p. 10998.
  3. S. J. Res. 120, ibid., pt. 7, p. 7042.