221. 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. Byrd is increasingly opposed.

Vanik: We can’t make it in 30 days.

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

[Page 773]

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?

President: Let’s run through the paper.2 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.

Jackson: Yes.

Javits: Yes.

President: What about Long?

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. 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 start after the 45 days?

Javits: Yes.

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

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.3

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.

[The conversation ended.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 6. Top Secret. The meeting, held in the Oval Office, began at 10:02 and concluded at 10:25 a.m. (Ibid., President’s Daily Diary). All brackets are in the original.
  2. Document 222.
  3. At an October 15 dinner given in Moscow for Secretary of the Treasury Simon and visiting American businessmen, General Secretary Brezhnev warned that the imposition of “utterly irrelevant and unacceptable” stipulations on U.S.–USSR trade relations did “nothing but harm, including the trade and economic relations between our two countries.” (The New York Times, October 16, 1974, p. 59)