247. Editorial Note

The President met with the Republican Congressional Leadership in the Cabinet Room from 8:10 to 10:07 a.m. on December 1, 1970. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) According to a December 1 memorandum from Fred Bergsten to Henry Kissinger, among the topics discussed were an aid supplemental and the trade bill.

The President reportedly wanted a Social Security, family assistance, and trade bill during the current session, but there was agreement that an omnibus bill that included trade was unlikely to be passed. The President strongly indicated the administration could not be appearing to support separating the trade from the Social Security legislation, as this would kill the trade bill and undercut the Japanese negotiations and create political difficulties in view of his textile commitment. The President’s priority was textile quotas and he would “swallow a lot” to get them, but the leadership should not assume there would be no agreement with the Japanese. Removal of shoe quotas by the Senate Finance Committee the previous day made the bill much more acceptable, but Bergsten added parenthetically that it had been added back in that day, and that, added to the absence of DISC and repeal of ASP, made the bill “very bad.” The President reportedly agreed with Senator Scott that the death of the trade bill by attaching it to Social Security would not be nearly as damaging in terms of negotiations as killing the bill through separation. (Ibid., NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 401, Trade General, Volume II 4/70-12/70)

On December 8 Bergsten forwarded to Kissinger a draft letter from the President to Senator Scott, which included particulars on the features of the bill the administration found most objectionable. Bergsten noted that it was now quite clear there would be no trade legislation in the final days of the Congressional session, but believed that the President’s position should be clearly on the record. Kissinger disapproved sending the letter to Scott and wrote: “Fred—is this still needed?” (Ibid.) Despite Kissinger’s disapproval, on December 10 the President sent Majority Leader Mike Mansfield and Minority Leader Scott identical letters, the text of which is unchanged from the draft Bergsten gave to Kissinger on December 8. See Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1970, page 1112.