840.50/3–545: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom

1685. In response to Hawkins’ request while in Washington,54 the following current developments are reported regarding trade-barriers legislation:

The initial reaction of House leaders (including Rayburn,55 McCormack,56 Doughton57 and Cooper58) to section 359 is very discouraging. While they seemed to like the objective of the section they were fearful that its inclusion would complicate and prolong Congressional consideration of section 2, and make it very difficult, if not impossible, to get section 2 unqualified by some form of Congressional approval. They did not close the door to section 3 but [Page 28] Departmental officers who met with them came away with the feeling that the leaders felt very strongly that it should be dropped.
The Department and the Executive Committee are therefore considering alternative courses. Among the possibilities is to start with a two-section bill, consisting of the present section 1 plus either section 2 or section 3. Your comment on these proposals from the point of view of aid to the negotiations will be welcomed.

  1. A memorandum of conversation by Walter M. Rudolph of the Commodities Division, February 15, 1945, recorded Mr. Hawkins’ view on commercial policy “that it was indispensable at this time that we make contacts with Congressional leaders to advise them of our position and to sound out their views on the subject.” He had also asked to be kept informed on developments relating to his discussions with the British in London. (840.50/2–1545)
  2. Rep. Sam Rayburn, of Texas, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  3. Rep. John W. McCormack, of Massachusetts, Majority Leader in the House of Representatives.
  4. Rep. Robert L. Doughton, of North Carolina, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives.
  5. Rep. Jere Cooper, of Tennessee, Member of the Ways and Means Committee and of the Special Committee on Post-War Economic Policy and Planning of the House of Representatives.
  6. Reference is to a Draft Joint Resolution, not printed, prepared for the Secretary of State’s Staff Committee concerning a legislative program for extension of the Trade Agreements authority of the President (SC–39a, February 15, 1945). Section 1 of this draft resolution proposed renewal of the Trade Agreements authority for 3 years. Section 2 related the 50 percent limit on reductions of United States tariff rates to the rates in effect January 1, 1945, that is, those already reduced by Trade Agreements in force, rather than to the rates of 1934 as provided in the Trade Agreements Act, June 12, 1934 (48 Stat. 943). Section 3, drawn up as a concurrent resolution, proposed Congressional approval for a broad approach by the President in the field of international trade, designed to remove barriers and facilitate the flow of commerce.