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63. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • President Ford
  • Senate Steering Committee

Thurmond: I am getting very concerned about the Budget Committee’s and their attitude on the Defense Budget. They are hitting defense in favor of social programs. It would help if we could get more White House and DOD help with the Republicans on the Budget Committee.

The President: I know Bellmon 2 is strong on defense, but he has a strong conflict of interest. Who else is there?

McClure: Bell [Bellmon?] and I are the only ones who consistently support DOD. We usually get three Democrats, but we need the other Republicans.

Thurmond: If you could have the new Secretary of Defense to have them to dinner.

The President: The $7.5 billion cut was too deep.3 And if we don’t get a SALT treaty, we will have to ask for more.

Thurmond: It is too bad that DOD entertainment can’t be taken out of the Defense Budget.

Brock: There are a number of items like that. If we could have some of them out, it sure would help.

Thurmond: I think these setbacks on Defense will continue unless we make a concerted effort.

The President: Our people are doing all they can on the bill. When does it come to the floor?

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Brock: Next week. I think we will lose, and that is why I think we should try to move some of these items out of the DOD budget.

McClure: I think if OMB would work with our people, we might get it moved out.

Scott: I think we must revise the military retirement system. It is just too big a burden. It is a long-term problem and we can’t move quickly, but we have to do something. To me it is a part of the military costs and should not be separated out.

The President: There is a bill to stop the GI Bill. That was originally predicated on combat and that situation no longer exists. The House passed it and I think it should be pushed.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 16, November 11, 1975—Ford, Senate Republican Steering Committee. Confidential. The meeting, held in the White House Cabinet Room, ended at noon. Scowcroft, Lynn, Friedersdorf, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs (Senate) Patrick E. O’Donnell and the following members of the Republican Senate Steering Committee—Edwin Jacob (Jake) Garn (Utah), Clifford P. Hansen (Wyoming), Jesse A. Helms (North Carolina), and Paul Laxalt (Nevada)—also attended. (Ibid., Staff Secretary’s Office, President’s Daily Diary)
  2. Senator Henry Louis Bellmon (R–Oklahoma).
  3. Probably a reference to the House Appropriations Committee’s recommendation, October 2, to appropriate $90.2 billion to fund the DOD in FY 1976, a figure that was approximately $7.6 billion below the administration’s request. In January 1976, Congress ultimately appropriated $90.5 billion. (Congress and the Nation, Vol. IV, 1973–1976, pp. 154, 168.)