208. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations (Bennet) to the Deputy Secretary of State (Christopher)1


  • Appearance Before Panama Canal Subcommittee of Merchant Marine and Fisheries Thursday, February 15 at 10:00 a.m.


Whether to accept invitation to lead off Administration testimony on Panama implementing legislation.


You have been asked to be the first Administration witness before the Panama Canal Subcommittee of Murphy’s Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries. Hearings begin on February 14, with a full day of Congressional witnesses. Carroll Hubbard, a staunch opponent of the treaties and a co-sponsor on Murphy’s bill, is the prospective chairman of the Panama Canal Subcommittee and will conduct most of the hearings. Murphyis expected to issue an opening statement on February 15 and will probably remain throughout the State testimony.

Tentative plans are for you to lead off, followed by David Popper and Herbert Hansell in the morning session, with DOD witnesses in the afternoon. Duncan has already accepted the invitation to appear after the State witnesses on February 15.

Murphyhas requested high-level representation from all departments, particularly from State and Defense as the lead agencies. It is important to accommodate Murphysince his support is absolutely essential to passage of the legislation.

On the subject of Nicaragua, Murphyhas indicated on several occasions, both in Panama2 and with the President last week,3 that it would not be a factor in his consideration of the legislation. We can only hope that he will not raise questions about our Nicaragua policy in the course of the hearings. He has promised his full cooperation in pushing the legislation through the House although he will probably try to amend it to resemble his own bill.

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That you accept the Committee’s invitation to appear on February 15.4

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P790021–0614. No classification marking. Drafted by Betsy Frawley (H) and cleared by Atwood.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 206.
  3. See Document 206.
  4. Christopher checked the approve option on February 2. A memorandum for the record of the hearing prepared by the Department of the Army, February 15, is in the Washington National Records Center, OSD Files, FRC: 330–87–0068, 1977–1979 Congressional Hearing Resume.