388. Editorial Note

In a December 15, 1971, memorandum, John Lehman of the National Security Council staff briefed Henry Kissinger for his breakfast meeting the next day with Senator Jacob Javits, co-sponsor of the war powers bill introduced in the Senate on December 6 and unanimously voted out of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Committee on December 7. After noting that Javits had gained Senator John Stennis’ co-sponsorship “for the small price of including a phrase permitting action to forestall imminent attack,” Lehman commented that the bill was “wholly unacceptable” and was “almost identical to one which passed the Senate in 1956, but died in the House. We intend to fight and lose in the Senate, and kill it in the House or in extremis veto it.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 315, Congressional, Vol. 3.) For text of the Javits–Stennis bill (S. 2956) as reported with amendments by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, see Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, War Powers Legislation, pages iii–v.

The Javits–Stennis bill was a topic of discussion at a meeting on January 24, 1972, of the Legislative Interdepartmental Group, held at the White House and chaired by Alexander Haig. Assistant Secretary of State Abshire stated that “Zablocki thinks he can block this bill in the House and that we should work on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr. Lehman added that the strategy is to block it in the Zablocki Subcommittee.” (Summary of conclusions, January 24; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 302, Legislative Interdepartmental Group)

The Legislative Interdepartmental Group again took up the Javits–Stennis bill at its meeting held at the White House on March 10, 1972. Charles Brower, Deputy Legal Adviser to the Department of State, “reported the outlook is grim. Senators Roth, Bennett, Childs and Ribicoff are prepared to co-sponsor and the bill is becoming a motherhood [Page 845] issue. It may come to the floor within ten days. The leadership of the American Bar is opposed to it and Clark MacGregor has suggested trying to get it referred to the Judiciary Committee. The main problem is that no one wants to lead the fight against it. Scott won’t do it and Allott won’t lead the fight either. Goldwater and Tower are against it, but would not be helpful as leaders of the opposition.” (Summary of conclusions, March 10; ibid.)