201. Editorial Note

On June 4, 1975, Representative Robert W. Edgar (D–Pennsylvania) introduced H.R. 7600, a bill amending the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 403) to designate the minority and majority leaders of [Page 676]both Houses of Congress as National Security Council members. Representative C. Melvin Price (D–Illinois), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, sent copies of the legislation to the NSC for comment on June 13. (Ford Library, White House Central Files, Box 22, Subject File, FG 6–6 7/1/75–9/30/75 Executive) Following review by NSC Staff Secretary Jeanne W. Davis, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Max L. Friedersdorf, Counsel to the President Philip W. Buchen, the Office of Management and Budget, and the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs Brent Scowcroft, a response letter was drafted and sent under Davis’ signature to Price on July 1.

The letter details NSC opposition to the proposed bill: “Because the proposed legislation would blur the constitutional delineation and separation of powers between the Executive and Legislative Branches, and could inhibit the President’s ability to carry out his responsibilities for the conduct of foreign policy and as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, we strongly oppose its enactment by the Congress.”

The letter continues: “In enacting the National Security Act of 1947, it was the expressed intention of Congress ’. . . to provide for the establishment of integrated policies and procedures for the departments, agencies, and functions of the Government relating to national security; . . .’” [ellipses in the original] It argued that it was clear from the 1947 Act “that Congress created the NSC as an organ of the Executive Branch and designated its membership accordingly. Since 1947, the NSC has been utilized, as the Congress envisioned, as the principal forum through which the President receives the advice and recommendations of his senior advisors on national security matters. By adding four representatives of the Legislative Branch (a number equal to the present statutory members from the Executive Branch) who would be expected to report to their colleagues in the Congress, this legislation would inevitably change the character of this process and would inhibit the candor and completeness of the information and advice essential to the President in carrying out his Constitutional responsibilities.

“As you know, President Ford has repeatedly emphasized his objective of full cooperation and consultation with the Congress. During recent periods of international tension, the President has directed that the Congress be kept informed of developments and has frequently met with Congressional leaders before and after major international meetings and at key points in the decision-making process to discuss with them his policies and plans. We believe that this process of consultation, diligently undertaken in the spirit of cooperation between the two branches, represents the best means of exercising effectively the sharing of power and responsibilities stipulated by the framers of the Constitution for the formulation of our national foreign policy.” (Ibid.)

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Ultimately, the House Armed Services Committee did not take any action on H.R. 7600. Representative Edgar proposed two further bills calling for Congressional representation in the NSC on June 25, 1975 (H.R. 8200), and July 31, 1975 (H.R. 9087). Again, the Committee declined to take further action and the bills died in Committee.