14. Letter From the Administrator of the Agency for International Development (Hannah) to President Nixon1
Dear Mr. President:
Many weeks ago in discussing prospects for the AID appropriation for Fiscal 1970, you indicated that you had one “chit” that you might be able to cash with Otto Passman when the time was ripe and the stakes sufficiently high. It was agreed that when that critical time came I would call upon you.
The time is now—today or tomorrow.2
We are deeply appreciative of your timely letters yesterday to the Speaker and Jerry Ford.3 They helped immeasurably.
The House approved the authorization bill last evening. Had it not been for an amendment offered from the floor adding some $50 million of military aid to Taiwan that was violently opposed by many friends of non-military aid, the vote would have been much more favorable. After this addition many of our supporters voted against the amended bill. The non-military authorization level in the House passed bill is at $1,739 million.
I visited with Mr. Passman for the better part of an hour yesterday morning. He repeated again what he has told me at least a half-dozen times in recent months of his great respect and admiration for you, and of the fact that he supported you in the election and intends to continue to do so. He showed me a copy of a speech he recently made in Louisiana completely endorsing your Vietnam speech.4 He went on to [Page 38]say that he was inclined to want to talk to President Nixon before we begin to talk about marking up the appropriation bill. He made his usual critical speeches about spigots pouring out the taxpayer’s money all over the world, etc., and about his role in protecting the American taxpayer against communism, socialism, liberals, dreamers and others who want to destroy our country through bankruptcy, etc., etc., etc. Mr. Passman was one of the sponsors of the Taiwan military assistance amendment last evening. I suspect he was more interested in cutting support for the total bill than in jets for Taiwan.
Mr. President, it is my conviction that a call from you to Otto Passman today or tomorrow emphasizing the importance of an adequate AID appropriation will produce the desired result as nothing else will.
If Otto wants to talk about specifics, there are only two soft spots in it. The $40 million put in by the Committee to provide part of the cost of a water desalter for Israel. You know the reasons why this one is impractical and unwarranted. There are some little projects for schools and hospitals in Israel inserted by the Committee but in total they are relatively insignificant ($8.5 million) and to oppose them we buy opposition from many of our friends and in my judgment the gain isn’t worth the struggle. If Passman insists on further cuts out of the muscle of the bill there is only one place that the cuts can be made and that is in Development Loans. The Committee has already reduced Development Loans by $300 million, $200 million worldwide, $100 million Latin America. The House yesterday reduced this item an additional $50 million. If we have to take further cuts the need is softer in Latin America than in the rest of the world largely due to the current high prices of copper, tin, and coffee that make it more difficult than in the past to justify large loans to Chile and Colombia.
If we are to keep the commitments already made, including the increasing AID costs in Vietnam as the U.S. military presence is reduced and the raised expectations in Latin America, the rock-bottom, no-recede-from figure for non-military aid has to be an increase of at least $200 million over the 1969 figure or a minimum total of $1,585 million and it should be $100 million more than that ($1,685 million).
It is agreed that Passman and I will get together alone Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. in his office. I hope to get this pretty well settled before I leave Tuesday morning for the annual High-Level DAC meeting in Paris, followed by six days in Niger, Nigeria, and Ghana.
I am sorry it is necessary to call upon you with such urgency.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 193, AID, Volume I 1969. No classification marking.↩
- In a November 21 memorandum to Kissinger, Bergsten noted that Dwight Chapin confirmed that the President was willing to make the call and recommended that Kissinger send talking points to the President. A handwritten note from Haig to Bergsten, dated November 22, reads: “Fred—(thru Bill Watts) I sent up phone chit Sat. a.m. in HAK’s absence—please inform Hannah that Pres. has dope—” (Both ibid.) No call to Passman is logged in the President’s Daily Diary during this time, but the President did meet with Passman at the White House from 4:21 to 4:45 p.m. on November 24. (Ibid., White House Central Files)↩
- On November 19 Bergsten sent a memorandum to Kissinger informing him of Bryce Harlow’s belief that the President should write Speaker McCormack and Gerald Ford. Harlow pointed out the widespread perception in the House that the President did not care about the foreign assistance bill because there had been no Presidential intervention this year, emboldening House members to make cuts if the President did not act. Bergsten’s memorandum noted that cuts jeopardized Vietnamization and the new Latin American policy. (Ibid., NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 193, AID, Volume I 1969—Limited Official Use) No copies of the President’s letters have been found.↩
- Possibly a reference to the President’s address to the Nation on November 3; see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pp. 901-909.↩