219. Letter From Members of Congress to President Kennedy0

Mr. President: On Monday1 Members of Congress met with Mr. Ball and received their first information on the details of the Under Secretary of State’s proposed international negotiations on certain textile products. Our feeling is unanimous that the Under Secretary is proceeding on the basis of an erroneous understanding as to the nature of the industry, and of the gravity of the textile and apparel import problem. It is the considered opinion of all of us in the Senate and House alike that Mr. Ball’s program will insure the continued deterioration of the U.S. industry.

The State Department’s plan has several basic defects which doom it to failure. These are (a) it pertains solely to cotton textiles, and excludes wool, silk, and man-made fiber textiles and apparel; and (b) it is built on the 1960 level of imports, except for a possible 30% rollback for Hong Kong; would increase Japan’s exports to the United States, and assure every country an automatic annual increase in export potential of all textiles and apparel to the United States.

Your seven-point program for the textile industry, as we understood it here in the Congress, was forthright and included all of the industry’s [Page 470]products. Mr. Ball has indicated that he considers it impossible to negotiate an international understanding on that basis. In effect, Mr. Ball has come to the conclusion that he cannot discharge the directive contained in Point 6 of your May 2 announcement. We in the Congress prefer your program to the Under Secretary’s.

Members of Congress in both Houses have followed carefully your public statements concerning your intentions in behalf of the textile industry. We understood you to mean that you were determined to achieve an over-all solution of the industry’s problems. In all candor, Mr. President, we must respectfully advise you of our considered opinion that Mr. Ball has devised a piecemeal and entirely inadequate program which is not in accord with your own pronouncements, and which can succeed only in embarrassing the Administration in its programs relating to trade.

If you are convinced, Mr. President, that Mr. Ball’s program is the only one that can be attempted, it is our advice that it would be better to abandon the effort now. His program leads to no real solution and will only compound the injury which we in the Congress feel must be remedied. We know that this is also your objective.

Sincerely and respectfully,2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 411.006/6-2461. Limited Official Use. The source text is a copy of identical letters, one signed by 33 Senators on Senate Committee on Appropriations stationery and the other signed by 122 Representatives on House Armed Services Committee stationery.
  2. June 19.
  3. Lists of the signatories from each House are attached to the source text; not printed. For an attached memorandum of conversation between Feldman and Jacques, June 23-24, which provides additional context for the origins of these letters, see the Supplement.