59. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Gerald Ford
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President
  • Senator Henry M. Jackson (D.–Wash)
  • Senator Jacob Javits (R.–N. Y.)
  • Congressman Charles Vanik (D.–Ohio)
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

President: Is the Congress going to quit today?

Jackson: We are already out. We passed the continuing resolution on a voice vote. We didn’t have a quorum.

[The press comes in and takes photographs and is then dismissed.]

President: I understand we initially are over the brink.

Jackson: I understand there is one question on whether Congress should act in 30 or 90 days. Let’s compromise on 60.

Vanik: We can’t turn around in 30 days.

President: In a compromising manner let’s make it 45.

Jackson: There is a growing feeling we will get a reaction on this. Byrd2 is increasingly opposed.

Vanik: We can’t make it in 30 days.

President: But 45 days is a month and a half.

Javits: The first period is long. Let’s make it 45 days, since it is in full career. After that, when it is an annual matter, make it 60 days.

Jackson: You would change the 90 to 45 days in the first time around, and have the periodic vote at 60 days?

Javits: Yes. Is that okay, Mr. President?

[Page 164]

President: Let’s run through the paper.3

Jackson: Paragraph 1. If Congress hasn’t acted within the 18 months, you can extend to 60 days. Then if Congress doesn’t act it will continue unless there is a veto within 45 days. Thereafter it is annually.

Javits: Then it would be 60 days. In paragraph 5.

President: And 45 days in paragraph 4.

Kissinger: Really 60 days and 45 days in paragraph 4.

President: What is the procedure in the Senate? Will this be done in committee or on the floor?

Jackson: I will offer this on the floor.

President: You will chair with Mike and you [Javits] with Hugh.4

Jackson: Yes.

Javits: Yes.

President: What about Long?5

Jackson: There is no problem with him. The problem is the trade bill itself.

President: You can help there.

Jackson: I have kept Long informed and Javits has Bennett.6 If we did it in Committee, it would get botched up.

President: You will let us see the language?

Jackson: We will work it out together.

President: It is complicated and we have to make it foolproof.

Javits: We will call a meeting of all our co-sponsors to explain this. Then we will do it in the House and Vanik can explain that.

Jackson: It strengthens the bill in the Senate.

President: I have to send a request 30 days before expiration. Then you must act within 60 days.

Javits: Yes, and if Congress doesn’t act within 45 days, after 45 days after the 60 days . . .

President: Then if we get by that, the 12 months starts after the 45 days?

Javits: Yes.

President: Then it goes back to 60 days as a regular matter.

[Page 165]

Jackson: The whole thing is for five years.

Javits: This is historic. It’s like Moses leading his people out of bondage. It’s not only that Scoop made this, but it’s a whole change in Soviet policy to open this to us.

President: I would like to thank Secretary Kissinger for working this out with Scoop. I agree it is a breakthrough. But this deal with Brezhnev . . .

Jackson: I won’t bring the Soviet Union in. I will talk about you and Dr. Kissinger. Brezhnev didn’t help with that foul statement.7

It is the first major effort in bipartisan policy in your Administration. You deserve a lot of credit.

I will make an opening statement, then Jake and then Charlie.

Vanik: I have been having my own problems.8

[The conversation ended.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 6. No classification marking. All brackets are in the original. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Ford met with Jackson, Javits, and Vanik until 10:25 a.m. (Ibid., White House Office Files)
  2. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr. (Independent, Virginia).
  3. Attached to Document 58.
  4. References are to Senate Majority Leader Michael J. Mansfield (Democrat, Montana) and Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott (Republican, Pennsylvania).
  5. Senator Russell B. Long (Democrat, Louisiana), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
  6. Senator Wallace F. Bennett (Republican, Utah), ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.
  7. At an October 15 dinner in Moscow for Secretary Simon and American businessmen attending the annual meeting of the Directors of the U.S.–USSR Trade and Economic Council, Brezhnev warned that the imposition of “utterly irrelevant and unacceptable” stipulations on U.S.-Soviet trade relations were “attempts at intervention in internal affairs” that did “nothing but harm.” (“Soviet Warns U.S. on Trade Strings,” The New York Times, October 16, 1974, p. 59)
  8. By prearrangement, Jackson held a press conference in the White House after his meeting with the President both to announce the agreement on the Trade Bill and Soviet emigration and to release the text of his exchange of letters with Kissinger. In his statement to the press, Jackson declared: “The agreement is based on, and the Secretary’s letter conveys, the assumption that the rate of emigration from the USSR will begin to rise promptly from the 1973 level—and that it will continue to rise with the number of applicants. We have agreed with President Ford that a ‘minimum standard of initial compliance’ will be the issuance of 60,000 visas per annum. I wish to emphasize that this figure is not a quota. It is my judgment that, if the agreement is implemented in good faith, the actual number will exceed 60,000 per annum since there is abundant evidence of a current backlog in excess of 130,000, and the agreement calls for the number to rise to correspond to the number of applicants.” (Ford Library, Nessen Papers, Box 125, Foreign Guidance for Press Briefing, Trade)