214. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter 1

[Omitted here is information unrelated to Panama.]

3. Panama Legislation. Warren met with Jack Murphy and other members of his Committee this morning before the markup began. Your call Saturday2 had been helpful. We recognize that Murphy is operating in a constrained situation, and we will try to minimize, not aggravate, his problems, in producing a bill which is consistent with the Treaties. Following the Committee’s partial markup this morning (at which some improvements were made), Warren feels that four main problem areas remain:

1. The provision that no payments will be made to Panama if an expropriation claim against Panama is outstanding. Murphy appears to agree that this provision is at odds with the terms of the Treaty, and we think he will be helpful tomorrow.

2. The provision requiring that all costs of Treaty implementation (including an estimated $870 million in DOD expenditures) be paid out of tolls before Panama could receive the $10 million annual “contingency” payment under Article XIII of the Treaty. Warren called Murphy tonight to say that this is potentially the most troublesome problem; Murphy was noncommittal.

3. The provision authorizing the President to name a U.S. military officer to replace the Panama Canal Commission in the event of wartime or national emergency. While Murphy’s Committee approved that provision today, we hope that the House Foreign Affairs Committee may help us modify it.

4. The provision requiring Congressional approval for each transfer of property required by the Treaty. The House will probably insist on this provision, but the Senate would be likely to help us modify it.

[Page 513]

We will be sending you a strategy memo3 tomorrow outlining the way we will be approaching this legislation in the subsequent stages in both House and Senate.4

[Omitted here is information unrelated to Panama.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 21, Evening Reports (State), 4/79. Secret. Carter initialed the top-right corner of the memorandum and wrote: “Cy.”
  2. March 31. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Carter spoke with Murphy from 11:33 to 11:36 a.m. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary) In an April 1 memorandum to Christopher, Chester reported that Carter expressed his concern to Murphy during the call about provisions in the implementing legislation bill that were inconsistent with the treaty. Murphy apparently disclaimed any intention of violating the treaty and agreed to meet with State officials to resolve any problems, requesting to meet with Christopher. (National Archives, RG 59, Files of Assistant Secretary J. Brian Atwood, Subject Files and Chrons. 1977/78/79/80, Lot 81D115, Box 2, Panama Implementing Legislation)
  3. See Document 215.
  4. Carter wrote in the left margin: “I’ll help if needed”.