73. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon 1

Evening Report

[Omitted here is item 1 on the prospective visit of the First Lady to Liberia for President Tolbert’s inauguration.]

2. Senate Foreign Relations Committee—Foreign Aid—Dr. Hannah and I appeared this morning for two hours before the full membership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at their invitation to discuss the future of foreign assistance. I think the discussion was useful.

We were able to avoid any discussions of a piecemeal program of foreign assistance. In large part this was due to the Chairman’s and other members’ efforts to focus attention on Southeast Asian policy.

In addition the discussion also gave me a chance to reassert the Administration’s strong belief that a reduced program was not in the national interest. A number of Senators, including Cooper, Aiken, Spong and McGee, stated their view that reductions in program levels below the 20% cut levied by the Foreign Relations Committee on the last bill were possible ways of achieving a compromise. I was able to make clear that the figure reported out by the House ($3.2 billion) for the whole program was a figure which the Administration felt it was necessary to have.

Similarly, on the question of restrictive amendments, through the extensive discussions of Southeast Asia we made clear that amendments which constricted or restrained Presidentially-proposed programs would not be acceptable. Senator Symington in particular asked about his compromise with Senator Stennis on providing a $341 million ceiling for the Cambodian program, revised upward from the $250 million proposed by the Committee. I indicated, following the Laos ceiling pattern in the Defense Procurement Program, that a ceiling which provided for your full program would be acceptable. As you know, Symington on the floor re-endorsed on Thursday, October 28, your [Page 173] receiving the full authorization and appropriation for Cambodia. The essence of the compromise was that we are willing, in return for getting the full money required, to accept the idea of later going back to the Congress should additional funds be required. In any event this is quite close to the situation as it existed in last year’s Foreign Assistance Act where any additions to the Cambodia program would be subject to 30 day Congressional notice. On the question of ceilings, I took the opportunity to clear up for the Committee the mistaken impression they had that the Administration would not respect a ceiling and believed that Congress did not have the right to impose one. I indicated that in our view ceilings were not advisable, but that Congress had the right, should it wish to do so, to impose them.

Senator Case indicated strong concern over our involvement in Cambodia and stated that in his view acceptance of the Cooper-Church Amendment would be the price for the passage of the bill. Senator Cooper did not appear to endorse this view. Senator Javits asked for a commitment that no U.S. ground or air forces would be engaged for the next year in Cambodia or Laos and an “assurance” that we would not be going down the same road as in Vietnam in those two countries. I told Javits that we had already made clear that our ground combat forces would not be involved in Cambodia or Laos, but that our air power had an important interdiction role to play in both countries.

I was asked about the Administration’s views on foreign aid reform. I replied that after long study involving the Peterson Task Force, the Administration had submitted its own reform legislation.2 The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had held no hearings on that legislation. I said that the Administration was ready to cooperate in having hearings in order to have the President’s new program receive full consideration in the Senate. We had in the interim accepted the House judgment that a move to a new approach this year would not be possible, and that is the reason why the Administration, and we assume the Committee, had previously accepted the House proposed bill.

Senator Symington during the course of discussion left the room and then returned to say that the Conference on the Defense Procurement bill was now agreed on money amounts. What remained to be settled was strong House opposition to the Mansfield Amendment (on Indo-China). He asked if the Administration was going to continue to oppose the Mansfield Amendment and what would be the fate of an aid bill with the Mansfield Amendment attached. I replied that we are strongly opposed to this Amendment and had made that position clear to the Congress.

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In sum, among the members of the Committee who spoke, Church and Spong appeared to endorse the Fulbright-Mansfield-Symington strong opposition to the present aid bill. Among the others who spoke there was support in one degree or another for most of our development and humanitarian programs and acceptance of the necessity for some security and military programs. I believe this group may support a Continuing Resolution Authority for foreign assistance to get us past the present November 15 deadline.

David Passage 3
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 323, Foreign Aid, Volume I 7/70-1971. Secret. A handwritten note by Haig reads “HAK—our friend explaineth all!” This Evening Report was included in the President’s morning briefing material on November 4. (Ibid., President’s Daily Briefings, Boxes 1-61) During late 1971, in the run-up to final Congressional action on the foreign assistance authorizing legislation and a continuing resolution on December 17 (see Document 78), the Evening Reports were included more frequently in the morning briefing material because they included reporting on legislative progress.
  2. The legislation was submitted on April 21, 1971; see Document 60.
  3. Passage signed for Secretary Rogers above Rogers’ typed signature.