Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

July 31, 1957

THE PRESIDENT. Please sit down.

I want to speak briefly again of the tragic loss that the Western World suffered in the death of President Castillo Armas in Guatemala. Personally and officially, I feel his passing. He was a good friend, and he was certainly a champion of freedom and a strong anti-Communist. I am sure that all Americans, all citizens of this country as well as all of the Americas, share our feelings of deep regret at his tragic death.

I have no other announcements.

Q. Edward F. Creagh, Associated Press: Mr. President, do you have anything you wish to say on the civil rights bill at this stage, and the anti--or rather, the jury trial amendments in particular?

THE PRESIDENT. I will make one statement on civil rights this morning, and then we will end it there.

I made my position, my personal position, very clear in the statement on July 16th which was furnished to each of you people.

I believe that the United States must make certain that every citizen who is entitled to vote under the Constitution is given actually that right.

I believe also that in sustaining that right, we must sustain the power of the Federal judges in whose hands such cases would fall. So, I do not believe in any amendment to the section 4 of the bill. I believe that we should preserve the traditional method to the Federal judges for enforcing their orders, and I am told, that it is 36 different laws where these contempt cases do not demand trial by jury. I think we should apply the same method here, and I do not believe that any amendment should be made.

So, I support the bill as it now stands, earnestly, and I hope that it will be passed soon.

That is my last word on civil rights.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, plans for brief detour around civil fights in the Senate to consider such legislation as extension of the Small Business Act and various appropriations bills, plans for this detour, or a one-day delay, have run into trouble. Now, what, in your opinion, does this mean to the Government? Do you think it might be necessary, for instance, to lay off any Government employees because of the stop on some Government money?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it is a very serious thing on the first thing that happens, and the agency most desperately hit is one with which we are greatly concerned, that's the Small Business Administration. There the authorization for the agency itself runs out tonight, so that 1200 employees working there can continue to work only on request and without any assurance they will ever get paid, whatsoever, unless the authorization is continued, and the funds for their maintenance are continued. Now, on top of this, all of the projected and future loans of the agency itself to small business are stopped right in their tracks. And so it is very serious for that organization.

Now, there are a number of others--I believe there are 1,250,000 civil workers and 2,800,000 people in the Defense Department in the uniformed services--whose pay cannot go on after tonight until some continuing resolution or their appropriation bills are passed.

I hope that nothing disastrous comes out of it, that they will act as rapidly as they can; but that is the situation as of this moment.1

1 On the following day, August 1, 1957, a White House press release stated that the President had asked the 1200 employees of the Small Business Administration to stay on the job, because he believed that the Senate would vote the necessary authority to that Agency as soon as possible. (The Small Business Administration was extended by Public Law 85-120, approved August 3, 1957 (71 Stat. 341 )). The release further stated that the President believed also that Senate action would be taken on the continuing resolution for those departments and agencies whose annual appropriation bills had not yet been passed. (The continuing resolution was enacted on August 14, 1957, as Public Law 85-134 (71 Stat. 351) ).

Q. Peter J. Kumpa, Baltimore Sun: Mr. President, sir, there has been some confusion about your stand on the school construction aid bill. You are reported willing to accept the bill that was before the House, but none of your spokesmen said that you would urge Republicans to vote for it, and this attitude has been blamed by some of your critics on Capitol Hill as responsible for defeating the bill which, as you know, lost by five votes.

Could you explain to us, sir, your position on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Why, it is very simple. I think if you will go back to the campaign of 1952, I have stood for one thing: the supplying of America's great deficiency in school buildings by bringing the Federal Government into it only to the extent of helping States meet this emergency.

Now, the education of our children is of national concern, and if they are not educated properly, it is a national calamity. The reasons that we have deficiencies in our classrooms are partially national in character--wars and depressions; so I felt, and still feel, that in spite of the fact that this is a local function, properly speaking, this is a place where Federal aid should be given to meet the emergency.

Now, in doing so, and in order that we would not get a plan we would call another giveaway or another dipping of State hands and elbows into the Federal Treasury, we stress the item of need. Let's put the thing honestly before the American public as it is, something to help the needy States and the needy districts where building is impossible for one reason or another unless the Federal Government does help.

But, if you try to make every State believe that they are getting something for nothing out of such a bill, then I would doubt your ability to terminate the operation of the bill at the end of the five-year period. At least, I would be fearful, and certainly at the end of that time I am not going to be around to veto any extension of the thing. So I wanted to stress this item of need, and I did say this: that in the item of failing to stress need properly, I thought this bill was deficient, but that I was so concerned about the shortage, I would sign even this bill. But the bill--remember this--that I thoroughly favored was the Hobby bill, the first one we ever put in, the so-called Hobby bill.

Then, a year ago, we made a further concession to the theory of grant. This year we made still a further, and I thought I had compromised the principles for which I stood, as far as I could. I stand exactly where I have always stood on this subject.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, as I understand it, just before the House killed that school bill, the Democrats came around to the support of the Administration's bill. They were willing to go along with your bill; and their complaint is that you failed to go to bat for the legislation so to speak.

THE PRESIDENT. I never heard that, Mr. Folliard. If that is true, why you are telling me something I never heard.

Q. Mr. Folliard: They say had you spoken up for the legislation it would have passed.

THE PRESIDENT. I spoke up plenty of times for the principles in which I believe. But, I say, I realize I can't get exactly what I want, so I have compromised twice in the proposals that I have placed before the Congress, and I was even ready to accept even further proposals. But I am getting to the point where I can't be too enthusiastic about something that I think is likely to fasten a sort of an albatross, another one, around the neck of the Federal Government--I don't believe it should be done. But I do believe that we should take a look at this question of need honestly and meet it, and meet it today. And I tell you this: I will have another bill ready for the next session of Congress.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Half of my question has been asked.

The friends of the school bill say that you failed to use your influence, and if you had, you could have got the bill you wanted, which would be offered by Mr. Ayres.

On the other hand, in the Senate yesterday, Senator Russell complained because he said you were using your influence for the civil rights.

Could you compare where you do and when you don't use your influence?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'll tell you, Mrs. Craig: now, with respect to the school bill, it is true I put it in two or three state of the Union speeches. I went before the public on a television speech about the budget and put this item before the public again. I went over to the Statler Hotel and addressed a large educational meeting on the same thing. I have never wavered in exactly what I am trying to do.

Mostly the work of a President with Congress in my opinion is done in a quiet conversational way by the telephone and informal meetings. You don't influence Congress, in my opinion, by threats, by anything except trying to convince them of the soundness and the logic of your views.

Now, in one case here, I have done it. In the other case, I have done it; but in one case apparently your words are more publicized and people get an idea you are more for this than that. I don't make distinctions of that kind. I am trying to get through a program that I have constantly put before the Congress and I believe to be for the good of the United States, and I will talk to any Congressman that is on the Hill about these things if he has got honest differences of conviction with me. I try to do it, and I try to win their votes over, but I don't get up and make statements every twenty minutes. I don't think that is good business.

Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: Mr. President, what did the legislative leaders tell you about the prospects for getting a mutual security authorization bill in a form such as you asked, including the development funds?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Lawrence, I don't believe anyone has given me an actual prophecy in specific terms. Every one of them knows the depth of my feeling that the mutual security bill, its authorization and appropriations, are absolutely essential to the security of the United States in today's world. I couldn't believe anything more.

I think there is no other subject on which I talked more, both to legislative leaders and with private citizens and in public. I am particularly concerned about the long-term development section, because for a long time we have been trying to get our aid more into the loan basis and less into the grant, so that if we can get that bill and take up loam with all of our friends, I think that we will be on a sounder footing.

We will have, in essence, a revolving fund, although in the early years I would say that would be a lot more outgo than income; but finally we will have a much sounder basis and we will help these countries help themselves.

Remember this: if there is no economic development in countries that are recently freed, those countries cannot stay free forever. There has got to be economic development. It is to our interest to help them. It is to our own interest to help these countries develop, both from a commercial standpoint and from the political standpoint. And that is what I believe we should keep our eye on more than on the details of these things.

Now, I know this: our leaders are prepared to go along with me, go down the line and to insist upon these values, these requirements, and I think that I am certainly very hopeful that we will get something out, because it has been a bipartisan thing. This thing was started long before I came in. I embraced it, I endorsed it, and I have supported it and stood for it. And I believe that every American, if he will study the thing logically, seeing what we are trying to do in the world, and what the world is going to if we don't do it, study this thing in terms of its alternatives, I think we will get greater support.

Q. Pat Munroe, Salt Lake City Deseret News: Mr. President, six weeks ago you nominated Mr. Floberg and Mr. Graham for places on the Atomic Energy Commission. The Joint Committee of Congress appears to be on a sit-down strike, so far as acting on their names.

Is it true--are the reports true that the efficiency of the Commission is affected by the current impasse?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think most certainly that in a commission of this sort you should have your full membership present.

I nominated men who, from every record and report I could get on them, were good men, and I hope that they will soon be confirmed.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: In reference to another nomination, sir, were you aware when you nominated Mr. Gluck to be Ambassador to Ceylon, of either the extent of his contribution to the Republican Party or his now recorded ignorance of affairs in that part of the world?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, now, Mr. Roberts, in the first place, if anybody is ever recommended to me on the basis of any contribution he has ever made to any political party, that man will never be considered. I never heard it mentioned to me as a consideration, and I don't take it very kindly as suggesting I would be influenced by such things.

Now, as to the man's ignorance, this is the way he was appointed: he was selected from a group of men that were recommended highly by a number of people I respect. His business career was examined, the FBI reports on him were all good. Of course, we knew he had never been to Ceylon, he wasn't thoroughly familiar with it; but certainly he can learn if he is the kind of character and kind of man we believe him to be.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, in view of what appears to be your present difficulty in filling top positions in the Administration, I'm thinking of the Secretary of Defense and ICA jobs, could you discuss the difficulties of inducing good men to come to Washington; and do you think the business community should make some arrangement to make it easier for their men to assume Government positions?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't believe business can do much.

As a matter of fact, I have never yet suggested to a man he come to an important post in the Government that he hasn't expressed the very greatest satisfaction in having been tendered such a post; and if he found it necessary to decline, he .has done it with the utmost and, I know, sincere regret.

Business, in general, has been cooperative in trying to make it possible for these people so to work, but you do have this: you have this conflict-of-interest law which I have heard many Congressmen and many Senators say is really antiquated and out of date. But it reaches into such details of a man's life and business that if you want to get a younger effective executive from out of business to do one of the jobs here, you are practically ruining his business career and his future.

So, it is only among a few that are not so affected that you can really ask them to make the sacrifice.

Q. Mr. Scherer: Would you welcome some change in the conflict-of-interest laws?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I haven't studied it sufficiently to say exactly how I would recommend it. I would like to see Congress look it all over, because I know in many cases I have had Senators call me up and say, "This looks like a conflict of interest. It's too bad, because here is a wonderful man, we'd like to have

I would like to have them review the thing themselves.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, the current series of articles dealing with your personal finances estimates your total worth, including your stock holdings, at about a million dollars.

Could you tell us, perhaps as a guide to other persons entering Government service, how you assure that the conflict-of-interest problem never arises in your own case?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, first of all, if that man who knows so much about my business will offer me a million dollars to sell out, he is going to make a sale in a hurry. [Laughter]

Now, the second thing is, and I think I announced this when I first took office, although I am an elected official and therefore the conflict-of-interest law does not apply to me, I did, when I came down here, take everything I owned except for a little cash in the banks and put it in an irrevocable trust so that during the period that I am President, I do not even know what I own, so that no judgment of mine can ever be influenced by any fancied advantage I could get out of my relatively modest holdings in anything.

So, as of this day, the only reports I have from private investments are at the end of the year reports as to what I owe in taxes, and that is all.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, sir, your President's Fuel Study Committee1 last week corroborated a policy that you have had for some years, that oil for the west coast should come from other countries, and it comes by water, and there have been several instances of testimony on Capitol Hill that in time of war, and submarine warfare, that would be very unsafe. Would you comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will only say this: that the whole present approach to this business of regulating oil imports, arises out of one thing--consideration of the national security.

1 The Special Committee to Investigate Crude Oil Imports, established June 1957, to make an investigation on behalf of the President to determine the facts as to whether crude oil was being imported into the United States in such quantities as to threaten to impair the national security.

Establishment of the special cabinet committee was announced in a White House press release of the same date. The release stated that the President had asked the committee to view the national security in its broadest terms and to seek to balance such general factors as our long-term requirements for crude oil, the military, economic and diplomatic considerations involved in obtaining crude oil from various foreign areas, the maintenance of a dynamic domestic industry that will meet national needs in peace or war, and any special significance of imports in different regions of the country.

The committee submitted its first report on July 29, entitled "Petroleum Imports," to which reference is made in the President's reply to Mrs. McClendon's question. Subsequently, a second report was released on December 12.

As a straight economic or as a straight political question affecting our relationships with other countries economically and commercially, it probably is not a good thing to touch, we ought to deal otherwise. But the national security demands this: a healthy oil industry in the United States in event of emergency.

We have established, I think, beyond doubt, that in emergency the Western Hemisphere can supply the petroleum requirements of the Western World for a limited time--we cannot do it forever--but we can do that only if there is continued exploration and maintenance of reserves in this country.

If it were simple, so simple that you could say "Let's close up all our wells, import all our oil," that might be a very cheap and temporarily successful policy. But, you would strangle the oil industry and there would be none in this country; and so when an emergency came, it would not be a flourishing industry, and you couldn't depend on it.

Q. Mrs. McClendon: Yes, sir. But my point is--

THE PRESIDENT. Now, in section 4 [section III] the national security features of that whole thing have been studied and the recommendations made to me are as in the report that you saw.

Q. Mrs. McClendon: Sir, my point was that on the west coast, though--

THE PRESIDENT. I know; that is district 4 [district 5].

Q. Mrs, McClendon: We still depend on waterborne commerce--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, that's right.

Q. Mrs. McClendon: --and in wartime they wouldn't have any oil except what comes by water.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is not entirely true. They have quite a bit of oil out there themselves and, in addition to that, we are going to have to depend on water, we are going to have to depend on Venezuelan oil. Make no mistake, we are not going to supply all of the oil that we produce anywhere. [Confers with Mr. Hagerty.]

THE PRESIDENT. Oh; district 5 instead of 4.

Q. Ronald W. May, Capital Times, Madison, Wisconsin: Mr. President, Senator Wiley from Wisconsin and some Senators from New England have criticized these import quotas on oil, and they say, for one thing, that the 27½ depletion allowance on taxes is supposed to be a compensation for this exploration that you spoke of. I wonder if that is true,

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that the 27½ percent depletion allowance was put into the law for that purpose, to encourage exploration, and it certainly does. But the facts are that when you have allowables in the great producing States reduced to about 12 or 13 days a month, they get to the point that they are not interested in further exploration.

Now, this thing has been under study for three years. There is no easy answer. I tell you, if it were an easy one, you wouldn't have to study it this long.

It isn't a question of trying to help big oil companies, I assure you. The big oil companies are the ones that are cut back. It is the large domestic producers and importers who are cut back under this plan, and it is the small local producers, and I say small, relatively small, who ought to profit.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post Dispatch: Certain influential Democrats have said that they could not get cooperation from the White House on the mutual security bill. We were told that during the debate in the House on the mutual security bill, John B. Hollister, the Administrator, was out at Bohemian Grove. Whom do the Democrats work with when they want to help you on the mutual security bill?

THE PRESIDENT. This is the first time I ever heard such a thing, Mr. Brandt.

Now, to start with, we had one bipartisan meeting in the White House here some weeks back on this subject exclusively, where I explained to everyone present exactly how I saw its national security aspects, what it meant to us and to our future to go ahead with this program. I had the Secretary of State there, who went into very great detail.

Now, Mr. Hollister, according to my information, had finished his testimony before the Houses, they had finished with him in both committees, and he went on a short leave and came back, I believe, today.

Now, actually, if anybody wants to cooperate with Us, first of all, I have a staff of liaison officers, and Mr. Hollister has deputies; and besides, through the liaison officers, any Congressman and Senator can get to me. I don't know of any reason why they say they can't get an opportunity to cooperate.

Q. Mr. Brandt: The two most influential Democrats were Senator Mansfield and Senator Fulbright, and both made public statements on it to that effect.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is their opinion.

Q. Rod MacLeish, Westinghouse Broadcasting Company: Sir, on July 26 Governor Furcolo of Massachusetts sent you a telegram asking his State be declared a disaster area, under Public Law 875 of the 81st Congress. Has any decision been reached on this, and similar requests from other Eastern States in the drought belt?

THE PRESIDENT. When such requests come in, they are subject, unless there is a sudden emergency, to complete and thorough examination, and it comes about through both the Department of Agriculture and through the Civil Defense Administration. Until those are completed, I don't get the recommendations, and I have not seen them yet.

Q. John Scali, Associated Press: Mr. President, on June 5, at your news conference, in discussing the problem of atomic tests, you said that you would like to allay anxiety in the world about this problem by a total and complete ban of all testing, with proper safeguards, based upon total disarmament in this field.

Secretary Dulles in his speech last week said, "It is not practicable to assure the abolition of nuclear weapons. Therefore, we must make our plans on the assumption that the nations which now have nuclear weapons will use them in war."

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I expressed an aspiration, and he is expressing something of the realities of the world today. I don't know of any way, and I would like to hear of one, how atomic bombs already manufactured can be discovered and brought to the attention of any investigating team.

It seems to me you couldn't assure that even if you had years.

So, he was talking about realities. I was expressing a very great hope because this is what I believe. The great struggle of our age is to free men of terrible fear. Men and women, all over the world, are living in fear of one kind or another, and I think we have got to help raise that burden.

So, I would repeat the same aspiration, but I don't say that at this moment it is within the realm of practicality.

Q. Pat Wiggins, United Press: A lot of people are trying to give up cigarette smoking for one reason or another these days and are finding it a pretty difficult thing to do.

Seeing you did it successfully, do you have any helpful advice you might offer? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am a little like the fellow who said once, "I don't know whether I will start smoking, but I will never stop again."

Actually, of course, I was a very heavy smoker, probably brought about through my life in the military and war, and all that I was asked to do was to be more moderate about it. No doctor every told me I should stop.

But, for me, it was easier to stop, and I will only say this: I really believe if any persons turn their mind to something else and quit pitying themselves about it, they won't find it nearly as hard to quit smoking as they think it is.

Q. Spencer Davis, Associated Press: Mr. President, could you give an idea of your feeling now toward the return of German and Japanese wartime assets that were received by this country?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as you know, it has been under study four and a half years now with us, and was under study before we came here.

Actually, there is a statement to be issued this afternoon,1 and we think we have made great progress that will be helpful to everybody in the statement to be issued then.

Merriman Smith, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

1 See item listed under July 31 in Appendix A.

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and seventeenth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:31 to 10:58 o'clock on Wednesday morning, July 31, 1957. In attendance: 221.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233419

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