33. Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (Sonnenfeldt) to Secretary of State Kissinger1
- Jackson’s Letter to the President on the Trade Bill
This, as you know, is the letter that Jackson wanted to send after his recent telephone conversation with the President in order to explain the advantages to the President of Jackson’s proposed waiver procedure. I had thought that after I told Perle that the President’s objections were on substantive policy grounds rather than merely mechanical, the letter would not be sent.2 But evidently Jackson decided to proceed.
As regards the proposed legislative language, there are two significant changes from the earlier version. The first is the most substantive, stemming from my earlier negotiations with Perle: it makes clear that the first Presidential waiver will not require a detailed report on Soviet compliance. (I had repeatedly rejected Jackson’s position that even the first waiver had to be preceded by Soviet “good faith performance.”)
The second change involves making the proposed Congressional action a Joint Resolution rather than a Concurrent Resolution. This is for constitutional reasons. It does not affect the basic problem.
Jackson’s letter itself makes all the expected arguments in favor of his procedure—shared responsibility between President and Congress, additional leverage for Communist compliance because they have to satisfy not only the President but Congress as well. In the process of making his case, Jackson underplays the Congressional role which we have provided for in our version, i.e., a Congressional veto.[Page 86]
Jackson’s letter reflects his twin suspicions that (1) the President would not hold the Soviets to strict performance standards and (2) that the President would try to use unrelated issues (e.g., a crisis somewhere, or a promising negotiation concurrently in progress) to pressure Congress not to veto even if compliance is inadequate.
As regards the various safeguards written into his legislation to ensure that Congress will in fact act and that the waiver authority will not lapse by default, these are what we had previously seen. They seem to meet those problems as far as mechanics are concerned; just what the legal situation is if Congress nevertheless fails to act is hard to say.
In short, this letter leaves the situation as deadlocked as before, if not more so since Jackson is now on the written record with the arguments for his position.
Apart from the issue of what tactics to follow to break the deadlock or indeed whether to try at this time to break it, there is the question of whether to answer Jackson in writing. I can see nothing to be gained by doing so. If it were nevertheless desired to reply, the question is whether this should be largely in terms of justifying the President’s proposed waiver procedure, or largely in terms of rebutting Jackson’s arguments, or both. I would opt essentially for the former. Or there could be a rather brief acknowledgment noting the Senator’s language and arguments but stressing, with very brief reasons, why the President prefers his own.3
No reply for now
Draft possible reply rebutting Jackson
Draft possible reply arguing for our version
Draft possible reply doing both
Draft possible reply with brief acknowledgment
In terms of Dobrynin, you may want to bring him up to date and tell him we are standing firm on the veto procedure.[Page 87]
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 8, Trade Bill, Sept–Dec 1974. Eyes Only. Sonnenfeldt forwarded this memorandum and the enclosed letter from Jackson to Ford, as well as the most recent draft correspondence, in a September 16 memorandum, to prepare Kissinger for his meeting two days later with Jackson, Javits, and Ribicoff. “Jackson has apparently told Max Fisher, who has told Garment,” Sonnenfeldt reported, “that the President’s main concern is with technical aspects of the Jackson draft and that the three Senators are willing at once to sit down with Administration representatives to improve the Jackson text so as to preclude (1) any lapse in the authority because of Congressional delays or failure to act, and (2) action by Congress that is not exclusively based on the criteria and considerations in your exchange of correspondence (i.e., extraneous issues of one kind or another).” (Ibid.) Sonnenfeldt also included the same attachments in a September 18 memorandum to prepare Kissinger for his meeting the next day with Gromyko. (Ibid.)↩
- See Document 31.↩
- Kissinger did not indicate any decision on the options.↩
- No classification marking.↩
- Enclosed but not printed.↩
- During a meeting in the Oval Office on September 13, Ford and Kissinger discussed how to proceed on Soviet emigration and the Trade Bill: “Kissinger: The Jackson letter. It is in bad faith. The Soviet Union won’t buy it. I don’t even know if these could stick. President: In the House, one Congress is not bound by the previous Congress. Kissinger: This procedure means that every year we would go through this. Javits thinks it should be a regular veto by one House. President: He told me that. I wouldn’t buy that until we have fought for the other. Kissinger: We could get up a breakfast or just say it is unacceptable and see. President: I would want to know that Ribicoff and Javits are okay. Kissinger: Why don’t I call him and meet again before you meet with them. President: We’ve got to make sure about Javits and Ribicoff. Kissinger: They are afraid to stand up to him. The Jewish community looks okay. President: Can I get the precise language I want before the meeting.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 5)↩