212. Memorandum From Robert Hormats of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1


  • Eberle’s Request for Guidance on the Jackson Amendment

Eberle’s memo (Tab A)2 requests guidance from you, HAK, Haig, and Timmons on dealing with the Jackson Amendment. Mansfield, Long, Mills and Albert have agreed to try to move the Trade Reform Act through the Senate and hopefully enact it into law before October 12. To meet this schedule, they want to have a penultimate draft for circulation to Finance Committee members by early next week, which means the Jackson Amendment issues need to be resolved by the end of this week.

There are two issues:

  • —Will HAK/Sonnenfeldt continue to negotiate with Jackson,3 or should Eberle be delegated to do so?4
  • —Should the Administration acquiesce to Jackson’s proposal5—that every year a positive vote of both Houses is required to permit MFN to continue—or should it hold out for a provision which would allow MFN to continue unless either House votes that it should not?

Eberle feels strongly that a deal needs to be made as soon as possible. He would like to have HAK, or Sonnenfeldt, take the lead if they can devote sufficient time this week to bring this issue to a conclusion. Eberle is concerned that a delay might mean loss of recent momentum and cause the many Senators now committed to a compromise on the Amendment and to support of the Bill to lose interest. If HAK or Sonnenfeldt [Page 756] cannot devote the time and energy to push this through, Eberle would like to be authorized to do so.

Substantively, HAK and Jackson have apparently agreed on the substance and form of the exchange of letters, on the twelve month waiver of the Jackson Amendment, and on inclusion of some of the language contained in the letters (but no reference to the letters) in the Committee Report. They disagree on whether withdrawal of MFN should take place only upon a negative vote of either House or (as Jackson proposes) automatically after a year unless a concurrent resolution is passed in favor of continuation of MFN. According to Eberle, Jackson believes that the President indicated he could accept his proposal provided that the vote was expedited. Your notes,6 however, reveal no evidence to substantiate Jackson’s belief; although at one point (page 4) the President repeated his understanding of (not agreement with) Jackson’s proposal.7 The President was obviously concerned with the issue of a delayed vote (which would mean that MFN would lapse as the result of Congressional inaction) and with the enormous uncertainties for U.S. business and the Soviets in a procedure whereby Congress could, in effect, veto continuation of MFN by simply refusing to act. These concerns can be the basis for a strong argument to get Jackson to compromise on this issue. Nor will such a compromise weaken the hand of Congress; if the case against the Soviets is strong, it should not be difficult to produce a majority vote against continuation of MFN.


That you indicate to HAK the importance of reaching accommodation with Jackson as soon as possible, or suggest that he delegate Sonnenfeldt or Eberle authority to promptly pursue this to a conclusion this week or early next week.
That you reinforce to HAK and other recipients of this memo the dangers of Jackson’s proposals requiring a yearly vote to continue MFN.8
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Files of NSC Logged Documents, Box 51, NSC “NS” Originals File, 7404004—Eberle’s Request for Guidance on Jackson Amendment. Secret. Sent for action.
  2. Tab A, attached but not printed, is a September 9 memorandum from Eberle to Kissinger, Haig, Scowcroft, and Timmons that reads: “The time is getting short to pull together all parts of the trade bill, including Title IV, as the Senate Finance Committee is winding up its work on the bill and could conceivably finish this week. Therefore, it seems to me the time has come for me to pick up all parts of the bill and try to resolve them this week.” Eberle also attached an outline of the issues that had and had not been resolved.
  3. Scowcroft wrote “Yes” next to the sentence up to this point.
  4. Scowcroft underlined the remainder of this sentence (“Eberle be delegated to do so?”) and wrote “No” next to it.
  5. Scowcroft wrote “No” next to the sentence up to this point.
  6. Apparently a reference to Document 211.
  7. Apparently a reference to the President’s statement on page 4 of the memorandum of conversation (Document 211): “Let’s see, I make a 12-month report and ask for an extension. Congress approves by a majority vote. How do we avoid a bottle-up?”
  8. Scowcroft wrote “Done” and his initials at the end of this memorandum.