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Statement by the President Upon Withholding His Approval of a Bill Prohibiting Certain Imports of Extra-Long Staple Cotton

August 12, 1968

I am withholding my approval from H.R. 10915 so that this bill will not become law.

This bill would have prohibited imports of extra-long staple cotton from countries that have failed to maintain diplomatic relations with the United States. It would reduce the global import quota by the amount that these countries have been exporting to the United States and it would allow domestic growers to increase their production by a corresponding amount.

The bill is clearly contrary to the national interest. It ties the hands of the President in the conduct of foreign affairs. It deprives him of needed flexibility by forcing an automatic suspension of trade when diplomatic relations are severed. It could seriously inhibit the future resumption of both diplomatic relations and trade.

The need to maintain Presidential discretion in this vital area has been the reason for the traditional U.S. policy of refusing to make trade dependent on continued diplomatic relations.

The bill is a protectionist measure. It is detrimental to the textile industry, the consumer, and even, in the long run, to those cotton farmers--relatively few in number--whom it is intended to help.

The bill would deprive domestic textile mills of certain kinds of extra-long staple cotton not produced domestically. These uncertainties of supply resulting could accelerate the inroads of manmade fibers in the textile fiber market.

The bill would materially increase the cost to the Government and, therefore, to the taxpayer of supporting the price of domestic extra-long staple cotton. It would encourage farmers to increase their plantings of extralong staple cotton, only to deprive them of this new sales opportunity once diplomatic relations had been restored.

The bill establishes an undesirable precedent for U.S.. trade policy. It bypasses criteria, procedures, and safeguards--first established by the Congress 33 years ago--for setting import quotas on extra-long staple cotton and other agricultural commodities. It violates our international obligations under the GATT, and it invites retaliation.

The bill is as unnecessary as it is unwise. There are far better means to help domestic producers of extra-long staple cotton. I am taking action this day to furnish that assistance.

Today, I have signed H.R. 10864. One portion of that bill revises the price support and acreage allotment program for extralong staple cotton. It gives them the same program presently available to other cotton producers.

The bill terminates the present price support system which has resulted in pricing extra-long staple cotton out of the market. It is replaced with a support price which will enable that cotton to sell at competitive prices. The difference will be made up in direct payments to the producers.

I am happy to sign into law H.R. 10864 so that these cotton producers may have this vital assistance. But I am equally determined that our foreign policy and trade interests shall not be sacrificed for legislation of dubious value. It is for that reason that I cannot approve H.R. 10915.

Note: H.R. 10915 was not enacted over the President's veto. As enacted, H.R. 10864 is Public Law 90-475 (82 Stat. 701).

The statement was released at Austin, Texas.

APP Note: This was considered a "pocket veto".

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Withholding His Approval of a Bill Prohibiting Certain Imports of Extra-Long Staple Cotton Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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