• U.S.

THE CONGRESS: End in Sight

3 minute read

For three days and far into one nightlast week, the U.S. Senate debated foreign aid. Time after time, a majority voted down attempts to cut the $53 billion Mutual Security Agency bill approved by the Foreign Relations Committee. Finally, the bill was passed without a record vote and without a cent cut away, but this unwhittled survival did not indicate that the Senate was happy about the foreign-aid situation. In fact, it was apparent that the Senate was fed up with foreign aid.

Ohio’s Robert A. Taft, who led the fight against any cuts, based his stand chiefly on the grounds that this authorization bill just built a ceiling. The place to cut, said Taft, is in the later appropriations bill.

Said he carefully: “I do not commit myself to any specific amount when the appropriations come before this body.” The best guess of wise heads on Capitol Hill: actual appropriations probably will fall $1 billion below the ceiling.

There were other indications of restiveness about aid, on both sides of the aisle. Prodded by Montana’s Democratic Senator Mike Mansfield, a onetime champion of foreign aid, the Senate handed MSA two new deadlines: all economic-aid speeding must end by June 30, 1956, and all spending for military assistance must be wound up a year later. The deadlines demonstrated that the U.S. Senate (and U.S. citizens) has notforgotten that the MSA program was, indeed, meantto be temporary. Said Senator Mansfield: “I believe . . . that the MSA as such has reached a point where the returns are diminishing more and more each year . . . I feel that continuation of aid on the basis on which we have been giving it is bound to create resentment… I feel very sincerely that this Government, which has expended approximately $39 billion since the end of the Second World War, has done just about all it can do.”

Other doubts were wrapped up in an amendment giving Dwight Eisenhower the power to withhold $1 billion of aid from Europe until the European Defense Community, with a unified army, is created. Sponsored jointly by Minority Leader Lyndon Johnson and Majority Leader Taft, the amendment was adopted without a dissenting voice after only three minutes of discussion.

From the Senate, the bill—$2.3 billion less than the Truman Administration proposed and $156 million less than the Eisenhower Administration requested—went to Senate-House conference. The House version would authorize only $4.9 billion, would flatly withhold $1 billion from Europe until the European Defense Community is a reality. No matter which way the final version leans, there seemed to be little doubt that the end of donation diplomacy is in sight.

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