Memorandum by Mr. M. M. Wise of the Division of Central America and Panama Affairs

It will be recalled that on July 16 the Department in response to a request from the Senate Appropriations Committee sent to Senator Gurney a letter2 setting forth our position which was one of objection to an amendment to H.R. 4002 reading as follows:

“that no alien employed on the Canal Zone, who may secure United States Civil Service status, shall be paid a salary or wages, wholly or in part, from monies appropriated by this Act.”

On Thursday afternoon, July 24, from a source outside this Department, CPA was informed that the Senate Appropriations Committee had reported on H.R. 4002, leaving in the bill the amendment to which we had expressed objection. Our informant advised that the bill was at that moment on the floor of the Senate being considered.

Within the next few minutes a contact was established with Senator Green, who on the floor of the Senate objected to this amendment on a point of order. The Chair overruled Senator Green and a decision vote sustained the Chair. The bill was enacted with the amendment and sent to conference.

On Friday morning the seriousness of the above development was brought to Mr. Armour’s3 attention with the recommendation that the Secretary of State lose no time in getting in touch with Senator Gurney and Representative Engel,4 pointing out our objection to the amendment and urging that the conference eliminate it. In the meantime CPA had a telephone call from the Embassy of Panama requesting that the Department do everything possible to have eliminated the amendment under reference inasmuch as its inclusion in our legislation would be highly embarrassing to the diplomatic relations between the two countries.

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At 3:45 p.m. Friday Mr. Armour and Mr. Wise delivered a letter signed by Mr. Marshall to Senator Gurney who was at that moment in conference on H.R. 4002. The letter was left with him.

On Saturday morning CPA received another telephone call from the Embassy of Panama officially protesting in the name of the Foreign Minister of Panama the enactment of legislation including the above-mentioned amendment. At about the same time a representative of the Associated Press telephoned to say that the matter had broken wide open in the Panamanian press, which was being very critical of the Senate action. Upon checking with the Senate Appropriations Committee it was learned that the conferees’ report was being written but that there was no chance of finding out what action the conferees had taken with respect to the elimination of the amendment. However, a short while later the Department was advised by Senator Gurney’s office that the amendment had been eliminated and that during the course of the day the House and the Senate would pass H.R. 4002 without it.

CPA then advised the Embassy of Panama which expressed extraordinary appreciation for the Department’s efforts in the cooperation of the Senate. CPA then telephoned Ambassador Hines at Panama to report the action of the conferees and authorized Ambassador Hines to pass the information along to the Panamanian Foreign Minister. The Ambassador said this news would be most pleasing to Panama and added that it was most fortunate that the amendment had been eliminated. In my conversations with the Embassy of Panama and Ambassador Hines I endeavored to stress the fact that appreciation should be felt for the cooperation of the Senate rather than for anything which this Department had done.

M. M. Wise
  1. Not printed.
  2. Norman Armour, Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
  3. Albert J. Engel, member of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives.