Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Foreign Assistance Act of 1968.

October 09, 1968

ENACTMENT of the foreign aid program each year, as much as any other single event, expresses America's concern for our fellow human beings. It reflects our hopes for the kind of world our children will live in. It states our conviction, based on experience, that we can take effective steps with other nations to repeal the crushing lifetime sentence of poverty, disease, and ignorance under which most people are born. In a word, foreign aid is America's best investment in world peace.

I have signed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1968. I must emphasize, however, my deep concern over the serious reductions in the amounts authorized under this act and the further reductions in foreign aid appropriations which the House has now voted.

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1968 is inadequate. Reflecting our tight budget situation, my proposal for this year's program was below any previous request. Congress, in this act, has cut this request by nearly onethird--by almost $1 billion--to the lowest level in the history of foreign aid. And the House has voted even deeper appropriation cuts--by some $355 million.

These reductions have serious implications for America's security. To understand what the House appropriation cut means, in the critical area of development loans

--only $200 million would be appropriated for 21 countries in Latin America, compared to a minimum request of $515 million to achieve Alliance for Progress goals approved at Punta del Este.

--only $265 million would be appropriated for all other aided countries in Asia and Africa, whose populations total over one billion people.

The Senate has restored the most critical House reductions within the limits of this authorization act. I urge the Congress as a whole to support this responsible action.

We are the richest nation in history. We have much to do that is urgent and pressing at home and abroad, but we must maintain our involvement in the worldwide war on want.

Foreign aid--representing only a fraction of 1 percent of our gross national product-is the spearhead of that involvement. It is an involvement of which most Americans are proud. It has produced notable economic successes in West Europe, in Iran, in Israel, in Korea, and in Taiwan. It has built nearly 250,000 classrooms since 1962. Last year

alone, it graduated more than 58,000 teachers in poor countries, put nearly 24 million children in school, and distributed 25 million textbooks for their use.

Our foreign aid program reflects the clear policy of both the President and the Congress-that aid be given only to countries who help themselves. We share this responsibility in partnership with other wealthy nations. We do not do as much as some and we do no more than the average. We cannot afford to do less.

Many developing countries have now taken hard self-help steps which promise dramatic changes, particularly in the crucial race between food supply and population growth. I urge the Congress not to reverse this momentum toward peaceful change and to weigh carefully the cost of rejecting our part of the self-help bargain.

Another provision of this legislation deserves mention. It imposes a quota on the amount of unprocessed timber that may be sold for export from the United States. This provision affects our trade with Japan. The United States Government assures the Government of Japan that we will give full consideration--bearing in mind United States domestic requirements--to Japan's desire to have the law administered in a manner least harmful to our trade relations.

I have taken note of section 651 concerning the sale of planes to Israel.

In the light of this expression of the sense of the Congress, I am asking the Secretary of State to initiate negotiations with the Government of Israel and to report back to me.

Note: As enacted, the bill (H.R. 15263), approved on October 8, 1968, is Public Law 90-554 (82 Stat. 960).

In his statement the President referred to section 651 as added by section 303 of the act. The text of these sections follows:

Sec. 303. Chapter 3 of part III of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, which relates to miscellaneous provisions, is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new section:
"SEC. 651. SALE OF SUPERSONIC PLANES TO ISRAEL.---It is the sense of the Congress that the President should take such steps as may be necessary, as soon as practicable after the date of enactment of this section, to negotiate an agreement with the Government of Israel providing for the sale by the United States of such number of supersonic planes as may be necessary to provide Israel with an adequate deterrent force capable of preventing future Arab aggression by offsetting sophisticated weapons received by the Arab States and to replace losses suffered by Israel in the 1967 conflict."

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

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