I AM transmitting today a bill to authorize Foreign Assistance programs for fiscal years 1976 and 1977 and for the transition period July 1, 1976 through September 30, 1976.
This proposal reflects both current realities and continuing uncertainties.
One reality is that we live in an interdependent world--a world in which the actions or inactions of any one great nation can affect the interests of all. By its actions, this nation will play its proper role in influencing the course of world events to make a better world for all. Foreign assistance is an essential element in the U.S. commitment to this objective.
A second reality, however, is that the recent events in Indochina have had a profound impact on the assumptions underlying the assistance requirements in my 1976 Budget, transmitted in February. There has not been sufficient time to fully assess the implications of these changes on foreign assistance requirements. What is abundantly clear, however, is the urgent need to assist those people who have been forced to flee from Indochina. I have already requested legislation to permit us to meet this need and I urge speedy congressional action.
A third reality is the continuing tension in the Middle East--an area which has been wracked by war and even now knows only an uneasy peace. The United States has made every effort to assist in finding a solution to the problems in this part of the world and is now undertaking a thorough reassessment of every aspect of our relations with the countries of the Middle East.
These current realities are also the source of continuing uncertainties about the 1976 foreign assistance program.
In order to permit the fullest possible consideration of foreign aid requirements by the Congress, the legislation I am transmitting today contains specific funding proposals for development assistance and related programs. However, because of the uncertainties caused by changing events, this request does not include specific amounts for grant military assistance, foreign military credit sales and some economic supporting assistance programs at this time. For these accounts, I am requesting an authorization for such sums as may be necessary and will return to the Congress with specific funding proposals as soon as possible.
The review of our policies in the Middle East, which I initiated last month, will not be completed until later this summer. I have, therefore, also omitted specific requests for assistance to the four major Middle Eastern aid recipients until this review is completed.
With this bill, the Congress is now in a position to begin consideration of those elements of our foreign aid programs on which I have made firm recommendations. The other specifics will be transmitted as soon as our reviews permit. I urge that the Congress consider and enact this legislation.
GERALD R. FORD