John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks Upon Signing the foreign Assistance Act

August 01, 1962

I am today signing S. 2996, the foreign Assistance Act of 1962.

In enacting this legislation, Members of the Congress of both parties have again demonstrated their understanding that it is our national obligation and in our national interest and security to work for a world in which there is a chance for national sovereignty and national independence. This matter of foreign assistance has been outside of the party dialogue since 1947 when the program began, and while it is a matter which has caused a good many Members of the Congress and the executive branch a good deal of difficulty in the political sense, Members of both sides have risen to their greater responsibility which is the security of the country.

I cannot emphasize, sitting in this position where I sit, how important this bill is. It provides military assistance to countries which are on the rim of the Communist world and under direct attack. It provides economic assistance to those governments which are under attack from widespread misery and social discontent which are exploited by our adversaries, and this permits us to speak with a much stronger and more effective voice.

The amount of money that is involved in the nonmilitary areas are a fraction of what we spend on our national defense every year, and yet this is very much related to our national security and is as important dollar for dollar as any expenditure for national defense itself.

So that the very clear identification with our national security has been recognized by President Truman, President Eisenhower, and I can emphasize how strongly I recognize it.

In Latin America, where they have staggering problems, in Africa and Asia, where many events are encouraging to us, it would be a great mistake and a great loss if we failed to carry on this program this year. I recognize that many of our fellow-citizens disapprove of it, but I really believe that's because they do not recognize how closely tied in it is to our national interest. They support these large expenditures for defense in many cases and oppose this, and yet I put the two side by side; and in many areas this is most important because it assists those countries which are directly under the gun.

So I want to express our appreciation to Members of both parties who are here. As I say, this is a matter which has been kept out of political dialogue and will continue to be as far as all of us are concerned, I'm sure, because it is in the interest of our country. I express my thanks to all those who participated in the passage of this bill, both Republicans and Democrats, Members of the House and the Senate.

Note: The President spoke at 10:30 a.m. in his office at the White House.

As enacted, S. 2996 is Public Law 87-565 (76 Stat. 255).

John F. Kennedy, Remarks Upon Signing the foreign Assistance Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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