700.5 MSP/5–1452

Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State (Battle)

  • Participants: Senator Saltonstall
  • Mr. Acheson

Mr. Acheson telephoned Senator Saltonstall this morning re the MSA bill. He said that we were very much concerned about the final action which the Armed Services Committee is going to take today on the bill. The Secretary said that he was hoping that the Committee would not recommend any further cut. The Secretary said that he hoped the Senator had read our note to the USSR which came out this morning.1 The Senator said he had read only the headlines.

[Page 504]

The Secretary said that from that note the Senator would see that we are in a desperate game with the Russians at the present time to try to push through this consolidation. Everybody knows what we had last year in the bill and knows what we are likely to get this year in the bill. We have two new problems this year. One is the Germans coming in and the new divisions being raised; the other is the attempt to raise and extend capacity of the native army in Indochina. With another cut we cannot take on either of those responsibilities.

Mr. Saltonstall said that he let his proxy yesterday to vote the bill out as is, reserving the right to vote for any further cut on the floor. He said he thought the Committee vote would be extremely close; he didn’t know just how it would go, it might go either way by one or two votes. The Senator said he wouldn’t want to give the impression that if he voted the bill out as it now is, that he wouldn’t vote to cut it further on the floor after he hears all the evidence. Senator Saltonstall said that he thought the Secretary wanted him to tell him frankly what his feelings were, and that is that he would vote as is without any cut but reserve his right to make up his mind after hearing the evidence on the floor.

The Secretary said that he would like to give him all the evidence that we have. He said that he talked at some length about the Middle East when he testified last Friday. He said that the Senator was not there but he would be delighted to go over all those parts of the bill with him. The Senator repeated that he would vote as is without any further cut but reserve his right to make up his mind after hearing the evidence. That was his feeling at the moment, he said, and he thought he would stick with it. The Senator said that it was a very difficult vote for him for several reasons, but that was his position.

The Secretary thanked the Senator.2

  1. Reference is to the tripartite note of May 13 to the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs in reply to the Soviet note of Apr. 9 concerning Germany. For documentation on these and related notes, see volume vii .
  2. Battle also recorded conversations between Secretary Acheson and Senator Stennis and Senator Morse, both on May 14. The memoranda of these conversations are in Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation, lot 65 D 238, “Foreign Aid”.