192. Memorandum From Charles Cooper of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1


  • Comments on Trade Bill and Jackson/Vanik

The legislative outlook for the Trade Bill may be souring. The AFL–CIO opposition to it is beginning to mount. They are attempting to insure that the bill is subject to an open rule in order to allow protectionist amendments on the floor—many of which would probably pass. The delay in bringing the bill to a vote which was agreed to in order to provide more time to try to compromise the Jackson/Vanik amendment issue has given labor supporters more time and opportunity to generate support for an open rule.

The importance of the non-MFN aspects of the Trade Bill is not economic but political. It provides authority necessary for the United States to participate in trade negotiations to resolve a growing list of trade problems between ourselves and Europe, Japan, and other countries. Without the authorities contained in the bill many politically contentious trade issues will go unresolved. Our ability to achieve monetary reform—which is also politically important—will be jeopardized. And the entire thrust underlying “Year of Europe” could be severely compromised. The Europeans and Japanese could claim that we sacrificed the parts of the Trade Bill designed to resolve problems with them for the sake of securing MFN and authority to extend credits to the Soviets. This could be interpreted as a clear case of putting the relationship with Moscow ahead of the relationship with our allies and friends.

There is probably no good solution to the Jackson/Vanik problem. The best solution appears to be to remove Section IV (MFN) by arguing that to give MFN now would be inappropriate in light of recent Soviet actions in the Middle East, but that it would be equally inappropriate to foreclose the prospects of giving MFN and credits and thereby tie the President’s hands in his delicate negotiations with the Soviets on [Page 707] the Middle East. However, even if we cannot get this sort of solution, I believe it important to move the bill through the House as soon as possible. The longer the consideration of the bill is postponed the greater the chance that the protectionists can mount pressure on the Ways and Means Committee for an “open rule” or secure enough support from the House membership to vote an “open rule” on the floor. In that case a number of protectionist amendments would be put on the bill. These would compromise this country’s ability to participate in trade negotiations. Thus, we would lose not only the Jackson/Vanik battle but also authorities the need for which inspired the Administration to submit the Trade Bill in the first place. If the House is unwilling at this time to separate the MFN section of the Trade Bill from the other sections it does us little good to delay consideration of the bill and thereby risk amendments which would completely gut other aspects of the bill.

If I am correct in thinking that delay could seriously endanger the prospects for a reasonable Trade Bill, then early consideration of it by the House is essential. If an improvement comes in our relations with the Soviets, there will be an opportunity to turn Jackson/Vanik around in the Senate. In the meantime we should try to preserve our ability to secure a bill the other parts of which serve our original and politically important intent of getting authority to deal with the numerous trade problems between ourselves and our allies.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 403, Subject Files, Trade, Vol. VI, April 8–December 1973. Confidential. Sent for information. Sent under cover of an undated note from Cooper to Scowcroft. The note is marked “Sent for action” and reads: “This matter will undoubtedly be up for discussion in the next couple of days. I did this memo for you rather than for Secretary Kissinger since I didn’t know whether he’ll have time to involve himself in any meetings in which this subject might come up.” Scowcroft wrote at the top of this note: “Thanks.”