15. Action Memorandum From C. Fred Bergsten of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • AID Proposes Further Presidential Calls on AID Bill
[Page 39]

AID Administrator Hannah has requested that the President follow up his letters to Speaker McCormack and Gerald Ford, and his talk with Otto Passman,2 by calling Chairman Mahon of the House Appropriations Committee and Congressman Garner Shriver, the ranking Republican on the Passman Subcommittee, to ask their support in minimizing further cuts in the AID bill (Tab B).3 Passman’s Subcommittee is scheduled to take up the bill on December 3.

Bill Timmons, who sat in on the meeting between the President and Passman, reports that Passman said he planned to cut a further $400 million from the level authorized by the House last week. Passman also said that he would give the President “anything he really wanted”, but the President reportedly did not ask him to minimize the cuts. For obvious morale reasons, I did not convey the latter to AID—which may therefore be operating on some faulty assumptions about the President’s willingness to enter the fray personally.

Nevertheless, an additional cut of $400 million would seriously jeopardize three important parts of the AID bill: supporting assistance to finance Vietnamization of the war, our aid level to Latin America and hence our overall Latin policy, and technical assistance. AID hopes to hold Passman’s cuts to about $100 million, including $40 million for an Israeli desalter already opposed by the Administration.

AID’s proposed tactic is to end-run Passman by working on the Chairman of the whole Appropriations Committee (Mahon) of which Passman’s Subcommittee is a part, and on the ranking Republican of the Subcommittee (Shriver). Both, however, have already indicated to Hannah their strong sympathy for the Administration’s position; Shriver has specifically said that he would try to hold Passman’s cuts to $140 million. In addition, Acting Secretary Richardson plans to call them to reaffirm our desire to minimize any further cuts. And any [Page 40]doubts about White House support for the bill were dissipated by the President’s letters. I therefore see no need for the President to put his own position on the line any further by calls at this point, particularly since Fulbright is now posing major problems for the bill and Presidential intervention on the Senate side may become more critical.

Recommendation:

That the President not make any further calls on the AID bill at this time. (If you prefer that he make calls, the memorandum at Tab A recommends that he do so.)4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 193, AID, Volume I 1969. Confidential.
  2. See footnotes 2 and 3, Document 14.
  3. Tab B, a November 26 memorandum from Acting AID Administrator Poats to Bergsten regarding Hannah’s phone conversation with Bergsten on November 24, is not printed.
  4. Not printed. Kissinger initialed his approval of the recommendation. At the top of Bergsten’s memorandum, he wrote a note to Haig: “I spoke to Mahon on the phone re the $100 million for VN & he urged me to call Passman. Please get me quick memo from Bergsten (Monday AM) with precise issues.” An attached December 8 memorandum from Bergsten to Kissinger forwarded talking points for his call to Passman. Kissinger made the call on December 8 and sent a memorandum to Bryce Harlow reporting on that conversation on December 9; see Document 16.