105. Action Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Security Assistance Legislation

Secretary Laird has recommended again that we transfer Security Assistance—now carried in the Foreign Assistance Act—to the Defense budget (Tab B).2 As you know, we have believed that this has considerable merit. If such transfer could be effected, it would change committee jurisdiction to the more favorably disposed Armed Services Committees from Foreign Relations/Foreign Affairs. The result would probably be fewer restrictive amendments and higher funding levels. Secretary Rogers believes the shift is neither feasible nor desirable: not feasible because Congress would not accept it, and not desirable because it would transfer control of important foreign policy matters to Defense (Tab C).3

Whatever the merits, it is clear that the attempt would cause a major jurisdictional dispute on the Hill. Senator Fulbright would resist, and Morgan in the House is diametrically opposed. Your congressional relations staff has contacted Senator Stennis whose support would be crucial. Stennis adamantly opposes and indicated he would not support or fight for the shift. Without his support there is no chance for success.

Unless we could be assured of success, attempting the transfer could cost us dearly. Our difficulties with the Foreign Aid bill would be compounded by all those members who saw this as an unsuccessful end run. Moreover, even some of the supporters would have expended capital in a losing proposition. Consequently, we believe that, however desirable the transfer might be, we have little or no chance of success and should not go forward with the proposal.

I recommend, therefore, that we inform Secretary Laird that we should not attempt the proposed shift of Security Assistance to the Defense budget at this time.4

Bill Timmons and Ken Dam of OMB concur.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 324, Foreign Aid, Volume II 1972. Confidential. Forwarded to the President under cover of a December 22 memorandum from Kennedy that summarized the issues.
  2. Document 101.
  3. Document 103.
  4. President Nixon initialed the “Approve” option, and Kissinger informed Laird in a January 4, 1973, memorandum. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 324, Foreign Aid, Volume II 1972)