Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Foreign Assistance Act.

September 06, 1965

TODAY I am signing into law the Foreign Assistance Act of 1965, which provides authority to carry forward our programs of economic and military assistance in fiscal year 1966.

These programs have been a vital part of U.S. foreign policy in four administrations of both parties since the end of World War II.

We have had great successes. We have made some mistakes. Foreign assistance is always and everywhere a limited instrument and no cure-all. But, I am convinced that without the American foreign aid program, without this expression of our humanity and our highest goals, hundreds of millions of people would have had no escape from the chaos, frustration, and despair on which tyranny grows and wars ignite.

Instead, these people look to the future with hope. Much remains to be done to make the hope a reality. The work of building modern economies and new societies is difficult. It requires patience, strength, and knowledge. We cannot eradicate the injustice and deprivation of centuries in a matter of a few years.

It also requires a sense of adventure, of challenge, and of dedication on the part of all Americans, not just those who serve us so valiantly--normally without recognition-in the quiet battle against poverty, ignorance, and disease that goes on everyday around the world.

The hope can become reality only if the people and governments of the developing nations do their part--make the hard choices, carry forward with new legislation, push for internal reform. We will continue to base our assistance on the sound principle that self-help and reform on the part of recipients is the key to success.

We will also continue to base our program on the principle that other developed nations should provide more aid, on softer terms. The resolutions adopted at the recent meeting of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD in Paris marked an important step in this direction. I urge all free world nations to continue in these efforts, particularly in bringing the terms on which aid is given within the targets established by the Development Assistance Committee.

I should like to express my appreciation to Chairman Fulbright and Chairman Morgan and the Members of the House-Senate conference on the foreign aid authorization for the hard work devoted to reaching agreement on the legislation. The matters at issue in the conference involved the future content and direction of the foreign aid program. This is also a matter of major concern to me.

The conference report and the two chairmen have urged "a review of the aid program as presently constituted, seeking to direct it more effectively toward the solution of the problems of the developing countries." The executive branch will, this fall, undertake appropriate studies of the program. It is my expectation that these studies will provide the basis for recommendations as to the future course of U.S. assistance policy.

I also expect to request that the multiyear principle approved by the Congress in 1961 and 1962 for development loans be extended to the other categories of assistance.

I am confident that next year's legislation will mark a renewal of our long-term commitment to assist those people who want to live in peace and independence; a renewal of the program which has been vital to U.S. interests around the world; and a renewal of the cooperative relationship between the executive and the Congress which has shaped the great foreign policy decisions of the postwar world.

Note: In his statement the President referred to Senator I. W. Fulbright of Arkansas, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representative Thomas E. Morgan of Pennsylvania, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

As enacted, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1965 is Public Law 89-171 (79 Stat. 653).
The statement was released at Austin, Tex.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Foreign Assistance Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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