The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (Pittman)

My Dear Senator Pittman: I am in receipt of your letter of December 9, 1937,11 transmitting for my consideration and comment [Page 873] a Joint Resolution (S. J. Res. 228)12 introduced by Senator Lodge on November 16, 1937, “To amend the Neutrality Act of 1935”, as amended.

It would seem unnecessary, in view of your familiarity and that of your Committee with the underlying purposes of the existing law and of the effect of these proposed changes, for me to comment upon them in detail. I may, however, observe that the Resolution, in addition to other changes which it would make in the Resolution approved May 1, 1937,13 would require the President, before taking action with respect to a state of war between or among two or more foreign states or with respect to a state of civil strife in a foreign country, to obtain special authorization of Congress in each instance. This proposed procedure would be most cumbersome, even under favorable circumstances. It does not seem to envisage the possibility that Congress may not be in session when action should be taken or that emergency situations may arise requiring prompt action by this Government.

On the whole I think that the proposed changes in existing legislation should not be made.

Sincerely yours,

Cordell Hull
  1. Not printed.
  2. Introduced by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge on November 29 (legislative day of November 16), 1937, and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations; Congressional Record, vol. 82, pt. 1, p. 421.
  3. 50 Stat. 121.