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


  • Amendments to the Foreign Aid Bill

The memorandum which you approved yesterday on the Aid Bill dealt only with areas in which your advisors or the relevant agencies [Page 32] were in disagreement. It did not make clear, in the discussion of possible removal of Section 620 restrictions in the Foreign Assistance Act, that there are two restrictions which, unlike the others, are of substantial importance, and that all parties, including Arthur Burns, agree that we should seek their removal. These are the Symington Amendment (and the closely related Conte-Long Amendment) and the Church Amendment.

The Symington Amendment requires termination of assistance (including PL 480) to any country with excessive military expenditures, and prohibits Presidential waiver of this requirement. The Conte-Long Amendment requires a reduction in assistance in an amount equal to any amount spent by a recipient country on sophisticated weapons systems. The new draft bill, by agreement with the sponsors, would soften these provisions substantially, by providing only that the President “take into account” certain military expenditures by recipient countries in determining the level of our assistance. It would also totally exclude technical assistance and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation from this provision. (Also by agreement, we would expect the Congress to strengthen these restrictions somewhat.)

Symington and Conte-Long presently are largely ineffective, unduly limit Presidential action, and insert the United States into internal defense decisions in other countries.

The Church Amendment prohibits grant assistance—be it economic or military—to any economically developed nation, subject to Presidential waiver. Even if such a waiver is authorized, there is an absolute limit of $50 million for military assistance. The draft bill would increase the amounts available for military assistance under Presidential waiver. This change is essential to permit the U.S. to provide Spain with military assistance in exchange for bases, estimated at $55 million for FY 1970.


That you approve the two proposed changes to the present Foreign Assistance Act indicated above.2

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 193, AID, Volume I 1969. Confidential. On May 23 Haig sent Kissinger a memorandum in which this was the first item for Kissinger to discuss with the President that day. (Ibid., Subject Files, Items to Discuss with the President 2/5-7/14/69) Kissinger met with the President at 9:30 a.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  2. The President initialed the Approve option. Later in the day Kissinger sent a memorandum to the Secretaries of Defense and State, the AID Administrator, and the Budget Director informing them of the President’s decisions on May 22 (see Document 10) and May 23. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 206, Bureau of the Budget Volume I)