Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's News Conference

September 12, 1966

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I thought you would like to have this veto message in the light of our message about which they are taking testimony in the Ways and Means Committee now, and our attempts to hold NOA [new obligational authority] and appropriations down in the Congress on most of the measures that are yet to be enacted.

I thought you would like to have available the veto message which I am sending to Congress now. I will read it briefly and Bill Moyers will get it to you when it is available.

[At this point the President read the text of the veto message printed as Item 453.1 He then resumed speaking.]

1 The text of the veto message was also released by the White House in the form of a statement by the President. Excerpts from the message were read by the President for radio and television broadcast.

I will be glad to take any questions on this or anything else you may want to ask.

QUESTIONS

EARLIER VETO

Q. Sir, my memory is faulty. What was that earlier measure you sent back?

THE PRESIDENT. The escalation clause-the star route bill that had provided for an escalation clause when the cost of living went up over 1 percent.2

2 See Item 336.

Q. Those are contract groups, aren't they, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

VIETNAM ELECTION

[2.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the Vietnam election?

THE PRESIDENT. I talked to Mr. Rostow yesterday at the White House before he made his statement.

First, we are very glad to see the election occur.

Second, from the reports we have, there are between 15 and 16 million people in South Vietnam and in the neighborhood of 7.5 million would be eligible to vote, something over 7 million. Over 5 million registered to vote and more than 4 million actually voted.

When we consider the votes that we have on constitutional amendments, or charter conventions, or even off-year elections, which run under 40 percent, and when you consider even the personality contests with the fights between the individuals, we are glad to see the reported number that did vote with the percentages up in the seventies or maybe eighties. I do not have the exact figure. But in our own presidential elections, the percentage of turnout is about 55 percent.

I think that is about all I have to say. I think there are about 400 to 500 reporters out there getting comments from local people who are much closer to the scene.

I would summarize it by saying we are glad the elections were held and we are glad the people participated. We think it is a good sign. We hope that they will go on and take additional steps.

REACTION TO THE MESSAGE ON FISCAL POLICY

[3.] Q. Mr. President, have you had any reaction since your message to the Congress on what you propose be done about the economy, from the public and business?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. Have the comments been good, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. Do you think the package will pass?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I think it will.

POSSIBLE SAVINGS THROUGH REDUCTION OF LOW

PRIORITY SPENDING

Q. Mr. President, on this impounding that you spoke of in your message, funds for these various appropriation bills, is there a relatively wide range of accounts that you can impound in?

THE PRESIDENT. About $30 billion in NOA and about $23 billion appropriations, out of the $113 billion. Assuming they add $10 billion, or $12 billion, I would assume it to be $120 billion.

They have added $2,175 million net NOA thus far in bills they have already sent. About $500 million was the pay increase that they started in July instead of January, and about $318 million for the servicemen, unanimously passed. About $610 million was mortgage credit; $226 million was Federal aid to highways, a part of the trust fund.

On highway safety we did not get the auto tax, but that will be about $115 million net. This insurance bill is $90 million net.

We have had a good many that have passed.

On the Defense bill, Mr. Mahon 3 says it will add about $378 million NOA. It has passed both Houses, but our figures differ some from theirs. Some things we count here in the Budget Bureau they don't count. For example, they do not count loans--as in Agriculture where they are permitted to make loans. They do not count the money. But we have to get the money.

3 Representative George H. Mahon of Texas, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

If the Congress can expedite legislation for both authorizations and appropriations, it will be very helpful.

The number that Mr. Mahon points out to me in antipoverty, elementary and secondary education, grants for developing institutions, higher education construction, public libraries, is about $4 billion.

He says, "We would like authorizations for them and we omitted the following budget items." So I have $4 billion budgeted not in the bill that they did pass because they don't have authorizations.

It is pretty difficult for us to tell here, as I said the other day, how much it is going to cost the Government until they tell you how much they allow you to spend. Then we will try to reduce that any way we can. Then, if there is a deficit, we will make other recommendations.

PROSPECTS FOR PASSAGE OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS

BILL

[4.] Q. Mr. President, do you hope for passage of the civil rights bill this session?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. Are you optimistic, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I think we have some problems in the Senate that appear to be very serious, but we will do everything we can to get the measure passed.

Q. Have you discussed with Senator Dirksen that point, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. He seems to be the key man.

THE PRESIDENT. I think he feels very strongly on some provisions of the bill. I don't know what his final course of action may be, but I would hope that he could be helpful. I think a good deal depends on his willingness to support it. I gather from what I have seen of late in the newspapers that he has some very serious reservations.

I would hope that we could find some way to get his support because I think whether it passes or fails will depend largely upon what the minority leader does about it.

FURTHER QUESTION ON VIETNAM ELECTION

[5.] Q. Mr. President, do you believe the turnout of voters in South Vietnam--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I will go any further than I have already gone on that, Mr. Scali.4

That is about all I am going to say.

4 John Scali of ABC News.

Those correspondents out there can give you all the information. I don't want to be misunderstood or misquoted.

I will say I am glad they voted.

Helen Thomas, United Press International: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Johnson's seventy-third news conference was held in the President's office at the White House at 7:05 p.m. on Monday, September 12, 1966.

Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/238635

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