99. Minutes of a Cabinet Meeting1

The twenty-seventh meeting of the Cabinet was called to order by the President at 9:05 a.m., Monday, September 19, 1977. All Cabinet members were present except Mr. Califano, who was represented by HEW Under Secretary Hale Champion, and Ms. Harris, represented by HUD Under Secretary Jay Janus. Other persons present were:

Joe Aragon Tim Kraft
Zbig Brzezinski Bunny Mitchell
Alan Campbell Frank Moore
Hugh Carter Dick Moe
Doug Costle Frank Press
Stu Eizenstat Charles Schultze
Jane Frank Jay Solomon
Rex Granum Charles Warren
Richard Harden Jack Watson

[Omitted here is information mainly unrelated to Panama.]

[Page 288]

—The President noted that he had read Senator Hollings’s recent newsletter,2 in which he endorses the Panama Canal treaties. The President commended the Senator’s “extraordinary demonstration of courage” in view of the fact that the senior Senator from South Carolina is one of four outspoken opponents of the treaties.3 The President said that Senator Hollings’ support followed his recent visit to Panama and his discussions of the treaties with several Latin American leaders.4 The President predicted that other Senators may also make trips to Panama in an effort to learn first-hand as much about the whole subject as possible.

—He added that he is still deeply committed to securing ratification of the treaties, and that he works on the effort every day. He asked the Cabinet members to continue their efforts to secure ratification and to commend those Senators who have endorsed the treaties.

—Mr. Bergland noted that the farm community is generally quite supportive of the treaties; the President suggested that Mr. Bergland pass on that information to Frank Moore.

—The President said that a briefing on the Panama Canal treaties with 150 Jaycees last week went very well.5

—Mr. Strauss said that he had talked to Senator Humphrey twice this past week on the Canal treaties, and that the Senator is working on the telephone to persuade his colleagues on the need for ratification.

—Mr. Blumenthal asked the President when the Cabinet Secretaries should attempt to secure support from constituent groups for the treaties. The President answered that those efforts should be undertaken immediately and noted that his own activities were proceeding on two fronts: private meetings with Senators and with groups of leading citizens from various states; and planning for a fireside chat on the subject.6 The President will meet with Messrs. Powell and Granum shortly to discuss the format of his proposed talk.

[Omitted here is information mainly unrelated to Panama.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, Vertical File, Cabinet Meeting Minutes, 6/6/77–9/20/77. No classification marking. The meeting ended at 10:42 a.m.
  2. Newsletter not found.
  3. A reference to Thurmond.
  4. In telegram 6206 from Panama City, August 30, the Embassy reported on Hollings’s trip to Panama August 26–27, the last stop on a 12-day tour of Latin America. Senator William R. Scott (R–VA) also attended and expressed his opposition to the new treaties. Hollings did not commit himself to a position on the trip, but “showed a considerable curiosity about political conditions in Panama and the probable effect of a new treaty here.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770313–0918)
  5. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Carter met with the Jaycees from 3:42 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. on September 16. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary)
  6. Carter’s fireside chat on the Panama Canal Treaties took place on February 1, 1978. For the text of the address, see Public Papers: Carter, 1978, Book I, pp. 258–263.