Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

May 05, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I have only one announcement to make. I am accepting the resignation of Mr. Kenney, the Under Secretary of the Navy.1 He will serve until his successor is appointed and confirmed. I have no one under consideration for his successor. I will answer that question before it is asked. [Laughter]

1The President's letter accepting the resignation of W. John Kenney as Under Secretary of the Navy, dated May 5, 1949, was released by the White House on May 6. Mr. Kenney's letter of resignation was released with the President's reply.

Q. He will serve until his successor is appointed?


Q. Has he returned from Europe, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he has not. He has been endeavoring to get his resignation accepted ever since the 13th of January. I am ready for questions.

[2.] Q. How about the District commissionership, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I shall reappoint John Russell Young.

Q. When, sir?


[3.] Q. Mr. President, there is a bill, I believe, on the Senate calendar, to implement the Hoover recommendations. Do you have any intention of asking for that reform--

THE PRESIDENT. The reorganization bill is the one that has to be passed before we can do anything with those things--with that Hoover recommendation, except those that require legislation; and legislation has been asked, in those instances.

Q. The general bill on the Senate calendar is the one I had in mind.

THE PRESIDENT. That is the reorganization bill ?

Q. Yes.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't force the Senate to pass it. I have asked the "Big Four" 2 every Monday morning how soon they are going to pass the reorganization bill, and they always say right away; but if they don't pass it right away we won't have any business to do, I can tell you that, because that-you have just 60 days for the Congress to act when the reorganization plan goes up. With less than 60 days now, and Congress hasn't time to act, why of course it doesn't apply and you have to do it all over again next year.

2Alben Barkley, President of the Senate, Scott Lucas, Senate Majority Leader, Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House, and John W. McCormack, House Majority Leader.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think of the agreement to relax the Berlin blockade?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course I am happy that there is a chance to take up where we left off, over 10 months ago.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, in your speech to the farm radio directors,3 you said it doesn't make much difference what prices are so long as there is a balance between the three groups that is fair, the three groups being the farmer, processor, etc.

THE PRESIDENT. That is quite clear.

3 See Item 90.

Q. What do you mean "doesn't make much difference what prices are"? Couldn't prices go too high?

THE PRESIDENT. So that the distribution of the products themselves is on a fair basis, so that every part and segment of the population get their fair share at a price they can afford to pay. That doesn't make any difference about the prices. That means that the situation should be balanced so that farm prices, labor prices, consumer prices are equal.

Q. Yes, but what happens to the people with fixed incomes?

THE PRESIDENT. That's what I am talking about when I say the consumer.

Q. I mean, are you going to have a balance between farmer and consumer prices--

THE PRESIDENT. A fair distribution is what we want. That is what we are after. That is what we have been working for ever since I have been in the Senate. That is what parity means.

Q. Yes. But before you can do it you take the--more than three--intermixed on you--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, you can't tell one from another.

Q. You have to take the fixed income group, and everybody else. Is that correct?

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct.

Q. So that the schoolteachers and policemen, etc.--

THE PRESIDENT. That's right. We are working right now for a raise in pay for the schoolteacher.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, General Clay said in Germany that he believed that this agreement with Russia might turn out to be only a temporary truce. Do you believe that, or do you believe--

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that. I don't know on what General Clay bases his statement, so I can't comment on it.

Q. It was his farewell press conference.

THE PRESIDENT. I have said all I had to say on the subject.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, do you regard the House action on the labor bill4 as an administration victory or defeat?


4 In a series of votes on May 3 and May 4 the House of Representatives blocked the bill replacing the Taft-Hartley Act introduced by Representative John Lesinski and favored by the administration.

Q. Which?

THE PRESIDENT. We have another chance to start over and get the sort of bill we want.

Q. Would you repeat that, sir? We didn't get it.

THE PRESIDENT. We have a chance to start over with the House on the labor bill and may get a bill that we can accept.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, do you feel your warnings on party loyalty have achieved the desired results?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it's working.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, did you approve the Sims substitutes5 which was introduced--

THE PRESIDENT. It wasn't submitted to me for approval.

5One of the substitutes for the Lesinski bill offered in the House of Representatives on May 3.

Q. May I have that question, sir? What was that?

THE PRESIDENT. He wanted to know if I approved the Sims substitute. I said it wasn't submitted to me for approval.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, I was going to ask, there is a report on the Hill that there might be a joint session of the Congress on May 19th to honor the President of Brazil. I don't know--

THE PRESIDENT. There certainly will be, I am sure, because I was told by the "Big Four" that the President of Brazil would be invited to attend a joint session. I know there will be one.

I wasn't going to announce that, because that's a matter that should be announced from down there at the other end of the Avenue.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. Young's reappointment, will that be as President of the Commission--

THE PRESIDENT. He will be appointed--I don't know--you will have to look it up. I can't answer that.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, this is an old chestnut, brought up by recent developments. There has been discussion at Lake Success that the meeting of the foreign ministers6 might be followed by a meeting of yourself and Generalissimo Stalin and Prime Minister Attlee?

THE PRESIDENT. On what basis would that be? It wouldn't be necessary, anyway, if the foreign ministers reach an agreement. That is all that's necessary.

6The sixth session of the Council of Foreign Ministers held in Paris from May 23 through June 20, 1949. The announced purpose of the meeting was to hold discussions on the situation with regard to Germany.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, would you consider Dwight Morrow of Texas for an ambassadorship?

THE PRESIDENT. I have been asked to consider Dwight Morrow for an ambassadorship

Q. Which one?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I have him under consideration.

Q. Which one, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't tell you. I don't know.

[14.] Q. In connection, sir, with the negotiations on the blockade, has there been any direct communication between you and Prime Minister Stalin?

THE PRESIDENT. There has not. The negotiations have been carried on by Dr. Jessup and Mr. Malik.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, is it getting near train time for a speaking tour on the health program, or the farm program, or--


Q.--maybe some other things?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No. I will give you plenty of notice so that you can pack your trunk. [Laughter]

Q. Will we need a trunk?

THE PRESIDENT. You needed one last fall. [More laughter]

Q. Mr. President, do you mean to infer that we might need it again?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't tell you that. lt's a little too early.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, have not the recent events in relation to the labor bill convinced you that you will have to make concessions to get a bill?

THE PRESIDENT. No, they have not, Miss May.7 You see, this administration runs for 4 years.

7Mrs. May Craig of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald.

Q. Are you willing to wait 4 years to get repeal?

THE PRESIDENT. I will do whatever is necessary to get it repealed. I don't know how long I will have to wait to get it. Everybody knows where I stand on the labor bill, however. My position hasn't changed.

Q. Mr. President, does that mean that you specifically want a certain bill, or that you want any--

THE PRESIDENT. I want the Democrats in the Congress to carry out the promises made in the Democratic platform--that's all I am asking--just as I am trying to carry out mine.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, can you comment on a report published this morning that you and Louis Johnson are in disagreement about the desirability of appointing Jonathan Daniels to be Secretary of the Navy?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know that there is any disagreement on any subject between me and Louis Johnson. That's the first I have heard about it.

[18.] Q. Would you care to be more specific about it? Do you consider the Thomas bill,8 which is the Lesinski bill, as the labor bill--


8Senator Elbert Thomas had introduced in the Senate a bill to replace the Taft-Hartley Act which was identical with that introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative John Lesinski.

Q. Is that your "sina qua non"?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that is a good bill. The Congress has the right to amend the bill, or work on it in any way they see fit. I don't care, because I never comment on any bill until it's up here for me to sign. Then I never hesitate to comment on it one way or the other.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT, You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and eightyfirst news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, 1949.

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/230269

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