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Statement by the President Upon Signing the Department of Defense Appropriation Act, 1968.

September 30, 1967

I HAVE signed the Department of Defense Appropriation Act of 1968.

This bill appropriates nearly $70 billion to keep our Nation strong and free.

This is a complex measure--and the Congress has given very thorough consideration to our requests.

I must note, however, that this bill contains several provisions which are of concern to me,

First, this hill is some $1.6 billion below my January budget. This reduction was based on the assumption that major savings within the Defense Establishment are possible.

The Department of Defense has been the pace setter in cost reduction and efficiency of operation throughout the Federal Government.

Secretary McNamara will continue to pursue these efforts, and I have asked him to take every action to hold defense expenditures as near as possible to the January estimates.

But I must emphasize that the budget I presented last January was austere.

I must emphasize, too, that the costs of conflict can never be precisely estimated nor fully foreseen. This fact, coupled with the congressional cut of $1.6 billion, might well create an unavoidable requirement for additional defense funds.

Second, this bill contains an amendment to prevent British firms from bidding--along with U.S. firms--on the construction of seven wooden-hulled minesweepers for the U.S. Navy. It has the effect of endangering a British-U.S. agreement that is of economic benefit to both nations.

Under that agreement we provided the opportunity to British firms to compete for the manufacture of $325 million worth of U.S. military items. The United Kingdom agreed to buy some of its own military hardware from us. In fact, Great Britain has already spent $1.7 billion in the United States under this agreement--and that figure is expected to reach $2.5 billion.

This has meant jobs for American workers and contracts for American business.

The British entered into this agreement in good faith--and America must keep its word. To that end I have asked Secretary McNamara to seek alternative ways to guarantee our commitment to the British.

Finally, the bill places a floor under the manpower levels of our reserve forces.

I have made my views clear on the subject of these inflexible strength requirements. I felt they were unwise in past years--and I feel that they are just as unwise today.

These objections aside, I sign this measure with a great deal of pride in our Armed Forces.

I sign it with an assurance to our brave men and women in uniform that America stands behind them and that they will never lack the arms and equipment they need to do their job.

Note: As enacted, the Department of Defense Appropriation Act, 1968 (H.R. 10738) is Public Law 90-96 (81 Stat. 231). The act was approved on September 29, 1967.

The statement was released at San Antonio, Texas.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Department of Defense Appropriation Act, 1968. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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