Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

May 09, 1946

THE PRESIDENT. I have no special announcements to make to you this morning. I thought you ought to have at least one press conference this week, so if you want to ask me any questions, I will try to answer them.

[1.] Q. What about the Supreme Court, sir?

THE PRESIDENT, Nothing to say, Merriman.1

1Merriman Smith of the United Press Associations.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, do you have-can you tell us about your plans to reorganize the Government?

THE PRESIDENT. Beg your pardon?

Q. Can you tell us about your plans to reorganize the Government under the Reorganization Act?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, they are going forward, and I will have some plans to send to the Congress in a very short time.

[3.] Q. How about the coal situation, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT, The coal situation is as it was and continues to be.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, a group of Southern Senators served notice yesterday that they would try at 1 o'clock today to set aside the British loan and take up the Case bill that went through the House. Do you think that the loan should be set aside for immediate action on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I think the loan is just as important as that.

Q. Mr. President, they advance as an argument for passage of the loan, that failure to do so would push Great Britain closer to Russia ?

THE PRESIDENT, No. I don't think that would happen, but I think it is necessary to pass the loan, if we expect to carry on trade agreements as we anticipate that we will.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, yesterday on the floor--day before yesterday, on the floor of the Senate, Senator Morse said that he didn't figure that you had used the full powers of your great office in the settlement of this coal strike. Do you feel that you have?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have, and I will continue to use them.

Q. Mr. President, do you feel that you have any authority which might bring this coal strike to an end, without the acquiescence of John L. Lewis ?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't gone into that thoroughly yet. We are making that survey now.

Q. In that connection--in connection with the question asked a moment ago, Mr. Lucas has a resolution which I think he is introducing today or tomorrow which would increase your authority. I noticed that administration leadership in the Senate is opposing it.

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen the resolution, and I don't know what it provides. I have not been consulted about it.

[6.] Q. Are you any nearer selecting the Supreme Court job than you were last week ?

THE PRESIDENT. No.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, last week you were asked if you would act in this coal strike at the time when you felt that it was a strike against the Government. At that time you said you did not consider it a strike against the Government, and when you did you would act. Do you consider it a strike against the Government as of today ?

THE PRESIDENT. It is slowly and gradually approaching that stage.

Q. Mr. President, would you approve any union collecting a royalty on production?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't gone into that phase of the situation, but I think the Wagner Labor Relations Act provides against that very thing.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, the Wage Stabilization Board, I believe, has approved a payroll tax in the case of electrical workers, to be paid by the Association of Manufacturers to the union. That is the principle of the welfare fund, and does not--

THE PRESIDENT. My understanding is that it is paid to a trustee for the use of the union--it isn't paid to the union.

Q. That is perfectly true.

THE PRESIDENT. That's right. That's a different thing.

Q. Different thing?

THE PRESIDENT. Different thing.

Q. The excise tax to be handed over to John Doakes.--

THE PRESIDENT. That's a different thing.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to get the parties in the railroad strike together ?

THE PRESIDENT. I am hoping they will get together.

Q. Do you think that a strike would endanger the future success of the Railway Labor Act, in view of the fact that the unions have rejected fact-finding?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think they have rejected it as yet. Let's wait a while and see if it doesn't work out.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, you announced your support of Lew Douglas for president of the World Bank, and he turned it down, apparently. Who are you supporting now?

THE PRESIDENT. I have inquired of two or three high-powered gentlemen if they would take it. I have had no acceptances as yet. [Laughter]

[11.] Q. Mr. President, in connection with the coal strike again, this week you appointed an investigation board in connection with the airplane strike. We notice that there has been none appointed for the-with respect to the coal strike. Is there any particular reason why those--there isn't any

THE PRESIDENT. The law provides for the appointment of one in the airplane strike, and there is no law providing for one in the coal strike.

Q. Is that what

THE PRESIDENT. Civil Aeronautics Authority.

Q. Mr. President, when the coal strike has reached the point where you consider it a strike against the Government, will you seize the mines?

THE PRESIDENT. I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, can you say anything about the evident breakdown of the Paris conference of foreign ministers?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not--as yet. Whenever that time comes, why Mr. Byrnes will be authorized to make an announcement on it.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, there are reports from Cairo this morning that King Ibn-Saud has sent you a letter, in which he threatens to withdraw American oil concessions if you don't follow Arab wishes in regard to Palestine. Have you any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen the letter.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, returning for a moment to this situation on the Hill, with regard to the coal strike, this Lucas resolution provides that if you seize--it gives you authority to seize the mines, or any plant where you would regard the public interest at stake, and provides that if you do that, that any worker who did not follow your request to go back to work would lose all seniority recognition under the Wagner Act, and that any labor leaders who did not ask their men to go back to work in good faith, would be in violation of the law and be subject to fine or imprisonment. I wonder if you would favor something of that sort?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't given that any thought, or any study. Whenever that comes up to me, I will take action.

Q. Mr. President, do you have any--do you desire any more law at present?

THE PRESIDENT. I asked for a law back in December, but they refused me.

Q. Do you still want that law?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it would be a good thing.

[15.] Q. Do you contemplate seizure of the railroads if necessary to keep them running?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. You do?

[16.] Q. Mr. President, what about-have you anything to say about the draft situation in which the draft law finds itself today?

THE PRESIDENT. The draft law is in a very bad situation. I am very sorry action was not taken more promptly on it. It was urged, I think, as far back as last September.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, could you tell us anything about the nature of the letter that you received from King Farouk of Egypt this week?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I don't remember receiving anything but a letter enclosing some stamps which Egypt has issued, and he wrote me a letter and sent me those stamps. It had nothing to do with any international affairs whatever. [Laughter]

[18.] Q. Mr. President, have you read Walter Lippmann's articles on Germany?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have read them.

Q. Would you care to comment on them ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as I commented at the Gridiron dinner: hindsight is a great thing. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, do you know of the existence of a German army in the British Zone?

THE PRESIDENT. I do not, and I don't think there is one.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, the New York Times this morning has a story out of Paris, saying that there is--may be a drastic change in our foreign policy regarding Russia, inasmuch as Russia has not cooperated in the various fields. Is there anything you could say on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't heard about it, and I make the policy. [Laughter]

[20.] Q. Mr. President, instead of just giving us answers to our questions, can't you kind of "lay out" the coal strike picture as you see it today, just so that we will understand exactly what your position is on this.--

THE PRESIDENT. I would rather not discuss it today. I will discuss it at a later date for you. I would like to discuss it, but I am not ready to do so.

Q. Do you expect to do that, Mr. President, in a talk to the people?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I haven't contemplated that.

Q. Do you expect to call Mr. Lewis and the operators in a joint conference?

THE PRESIDENT. I have that under consideration.

Q. Mr. President, Mr. Lewis had a conference-before this coal strike began, you had a conference with John L. Lewis. Can you tell us what happened at that conference?

THE PRESIDENT. I would rather not discuss it at this time.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, with respect to Mr. Lippmann's articles, do you think that in this instance hindsight is accurate ?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that, because I--[laughing]--I haven't been there myself to make the investigation.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's sixty-third news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 9, 1946.

Harry S. Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232858

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