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Remarks on Signing Bill Establishing the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future

March 16, 1970

Ladies and gentlemen:

We have asked you in this room because the Cabinet Room is presently being redecorated. The purpose is to sign the population message. I shall sign the message and then make a brief statement with regard to it.

First, this message is bipartisan in character as is indicated by the Senators and Congressmen who are standing here today. This is the first message on population ever submitted to the Congress and passed by the Congress. It is time for such a message to be submitted and also the time to set up a Population Commission such as this does.

Let me indicate very briefly some of the principles behind this population message.

First, it will study both the situation with regard to population growth in the United States and worldwide.

Second, it does not approach the problem from the standpoint of making an arbitrary decision that population will be at a certain number and will stop there. It approaches the problem in terms of trying to find out what we can expect in the way of population growth, where that population will move, and then how we can properly deal with it.

It also, of course, deals with the problem of excessive population in areas, both in nations and in parts of nations, where there simply are not the resources to sustain an adequate life.

I would also add that the Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, I think, contributed very much to this message by adding amendments indicating that the Population Commission should study the problems of the environment as they are affected by population, and also that the Population Commission should take into account the ethical considerations that we all know are involved in a question as sensitive as this.

I believe this is an historic occasion. It has been made historic not simply by the act of the President in signing this measure, but by the fact that it has had bipartisan support and also such broad support in the Nation.

An indication of that broad support is that John D. Rockefeller has agreed to serve as Chairman of the Commission. The other members of the Commission will be announced at a later time. Of all the people in this Nation, I think I could say of all the people in the world, there is perhaps no man who has been more closely identified and longer identified with this problem than John Rockefeller. We are very fortunate to have his chairmanship of the Commission; and we know that the report that he will give, the recommendations that he will make, will be tremendously significant as we deal with this highly explosive problem, explosive in every way, as we enter the last third of the 20th century.

And I again congratulate the Members of the House and the Senate for their bipartisan support. I wish the members of the Commission well.

And as usual we have pens for all the Members of Congress who participated in making this bill possible and for the members of the staff who are present here.

Note: The President spoke at 10:16 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.

A White House release of March 16, 1970, announcing the signing of the bill and the appointment of John D. Rockefeller 3d is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 6, p. 374).

As enacted, the bill (S. 2701 ) is Public Law 91-213 (84 Stat. 67).

Richard Nixon, Remarks on Signing Bill Establishing the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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