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Department of State, International Communication Agency, and Board for International Broadcasting Appropriations Bill Statement on Signing H.R. 3363 Into Law.

August 15, 1979

Today I am signing into law H.R. 3363, which authorizes appropriations for fiscal years 1980 and 1981 for the Department of State, the International Communication Agency, and the Board for International Broadcasting. Three sections of this act require my special comment.

First, section 110 of this bill represents a victory for common sense and sound foreign policy. This is the provision that permits the United States to begin paying its 1979 dues to the United Nations and its specialized agencies. For this entire year, up until now, we have not been able to pay our dues to these organizations, despite our obligations under international treaties. This inability to pay threatened the existence of programs vital to the United States in such fields as nuclear safeguards, air safety, and international health. This situation was caused by a provision (known as the "Helms amendment") passed by the Congress at the end of the last session. Section 110 has the effect of repealing this provision.

In addition, the supplemental appropriations bill for the Department of State for 1979 restores $27.7 million intended for our assessed obligations to the United Nations system, which the Congress deleted last year. Therefore, as of today, we are able to pay our bills, and to pay them in full. I am pleased that the U.S. Government can again resume a traditional leadership role in these international institutions.

Second, last fall the Secretary of State, after lengthy study, proposed and I approved the closing of 13 U.S. Consulates. I concluded that they were no longer needed for the performance of essential functions and viewed their closing as a sound step for economizing and for reducing unnecessary American presence abroad. However, section 108 names 10 of those posts and provides that they shall not be closed or, if closed, shall be reopened as soon as possible.

Under the Constitution, the President has the power to appoint Consuls as well as Ambassadors and other public ministers. Implicit in this grant is the right to decide when and where an Ambassador or Consul should be appointed. Just as decisions associated with the appointment of Ambassadors are acknowledged to be a constitutional prerogative of the President, I believe that Congress cannot mandate the establishment of consular relations at a time and place unacceptable to the President. In order to protect this constitutional prerogative of the President, I will therefore regard section 108 as a recommendation and not a requirement.

Third, section 408 recognizes the existing power of the President to make the decision regarding the continuation by the United States of sanctions imposed by the United Nations against Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, but declares that such sanctions are to be terminated on November 15, 1979, unless the President finds that the continuation is "in the national interest." The section purports to give Congress power to overturn this determination by concurrent resolution. This provision directly violates Article I, section 7, of the Constitution, which requires that all such resolutions, if they are to have the force of law, be presented to the President for his approval or disapproval. By giving Congress an additional role in this decision without requiring the legislative process to be followed, section 408 violates the principle of separation of powers.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 3363 is Public Law 96-60, approved August 15.

Jimmy Carter, Department of State, International Communication Agency, and Board for International Broadcasting Appropriations Bill Statement on Signing H.R. 3363 Into Law. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250254

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