131. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations (Moore) and the Chairman of the Policy Planning Council (Bosworth) to Secretary of State Shultz1


  • Strategy for Foreign Affairs Agenda in the 98th Congress

Issue for Decision

What should be our top foreign policy objectives in the 98th Congress?

Essential Factors

During the first session of the 98th Congress, we will pursue numerous legislative objectives crucial to the President’s foreign policy. This memorandum sets out the first-order congressional foreign policy objectives which will require your continuing involvement. These priority issues are drawn from an inventory of legislative objectives (attached),2 which was compiled after extensive consultations between H and the regional/functional bureaus. Ken Dam’s Legislative Strategy [Page 508] Group has gone over the list. The attachment also includes an organizational structure for managing the achievement of these objectives.

Prirotiy Foreign Policy Objecties in 98th Congress

We will pursue our legislative agenda in an environment of severe budgetary austerity and growing political partisanship. You will be in and out of several of the issues enumerated at Tab 1, but your continuing involvement will be required for the following five broad topics:

Funding Foreign Policy. This involves security assistance, development aid, defense budgets, base agreements, peace forces (Mideast, possibly southern Africa), not to mention State Department operations. Certain special presidential commitments also are included here, such as the CBI, in which Chairman Rostenkowski has undertaken to move early in the session. (We have taken note of your desire to improve the content and style of our presentations on these subjects and are working on this.)
Defense and Arms Control. The success of Administration foreign policy, and of U.S. credibility abroad, will depend on sustaining congressional (and public) support for the President’s defense programs and arms control proposals. We face increased pressures for defense cuts (including MX and Pershing II funding), troop reductions in Europe, adoption of the freeze and, perhaps, “quick and dirty” agreements on START, INF or MBFR. Managing all this on the Hill, without sacrificing major U.S. interests, will require your full participation.
Mideast. Congressional support will be vital in pursuing the Arab-Israeli peace process and Lebanon negotiation track. In addition, arms sales (Egypt, Israel, possibly Jordan) could become highly contentious. The Lebanon supplemental will be important.
International Economics. This is a critical area for which we do not have a comprehensive, coherent policy. On the damage limitation side, we will need to fight hard to head off protectionist legislation (domestic content). We also have some important positive goals (funding INF and multilateral development banks and renewal of Export Administration Act).3 But we need to do all of this within the framework of an integrated response to the issues of international debt, synchronization of recovery in the OECD and major LDCs, OPEC and the softening oil markets, East-West economics and the Williamsburg summit.4
Far East. The two key issues clearly are China policy (including arms sales) and Japan (mainly trade, but also defense policy). You will want to consult with key members before and after your upcoming trip, but there is likely to be continuing interest throughout the year.5


As we move into what may be a rather fractious third year, we need to build a more solid and broader political center, in the country and in the Congress, on major Administration policy objectives. Your role will be indispensable in this effort with Congress. (Steve is sending you a related memo on your speech strategy for the next six months, which dovetails substantively with our proposed congressional strategy.)6 Once we have your reaction to the basic congressional strategy. Powell will be back with specific proposals.


That you approve the Congressional strategy set out above, with top priority accorded to funding foreign policy, defense and arms control, the Mideast, international economies and the Far East.

Approve ______________7

Disapprove ______________

Let’s discuss ______________

  1. Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, Official Memoranda; NLR–775–27A–8–2–1. Limited Official Use. Sent through Dam. Drischler initialed for Moore. Drafted by Kaplan and Montgomery on January 10; cleared by Gompert. Kaplan initialed for Gompert. Shultz’s stamped initials appear in the top right-hand corner of the memorandum. Bremer initialed the top of the memorandum and wrote “1/11.”
  2. Not printed is Tab 1, a seven-page inventory drafted by Drischler and divided into three sections: “General,” “Regional,” and “Functional.”
  3. See footnote 6, Document 81.
  4. See footnote 9, Document 129.
  5. Shultz was scheduled to visit Tokyo, January 30–February 2, to meet with Nakasone and Abe; Beijing, February 2–6, to meet with Deng, Zhao, and other Chinese officials; Seoul, February 6–8, to meet with Chun and Kim and visit U.S. and Korean military personnel; and Hong Kong, February 8–9, to attend a meeting of the chiefs of U.S. diplomatic missions in Asia and the Pacific. For the text of his remarks, news conferences, and toasts made during the trip, see Department of State Bulletin, March 1983, pp. 40–64. Documentation on Shultz’s trip is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XXVIII, China, 1981–1983, and Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XXX, Japan; Korea, 1981–1984.
  6. Not found.
  7. Shultz initialed the “Approve” option. A stamped date next to his initial reads: “JAN 17 1983.”