Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

March 24, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I have one announcement to make. I canceled two other speaking engagements, one in New York on the 10th, and the other in New York on the 23d. That cleans up the speaking engagements to date.

Q. Mr. President, just for our quick thinking, New York on the 10th is what?

THE PRESIDENT. Dedication of the U.N.-cornerstone laying of the United Nations Building.

Q. Yes. And the 23d?

THE PRESIDENT. On the 23d was Dr. Weizmann.

Q. The what?

THE PRESIDENT. Dr. Chaim Weizmann.1

1President of Israel.

Q. Mr. President, can you tell us the reasons?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, the reason is very simple. I have been so thoroughly covered up with work since I came back from Florida that I am spending all my time trying to get my desk cleaned up and have as many interviews as possible with Members of Congress who have been very anxious to see me on various subjects. So I shall spend most of my time working all the time--in fact from daylight until dark.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, I have a District of Columbia question I would like to get out of the way before the highbrows start on you.

THE PRESIDENT. All right. [Laughter]

Q. The District of Columbia is about several million dollars shy of its next year's budget. A sales tax was defeated in the House, and now a modified sales tax has been suggested. Senator McGrath proposes an $18 million grant. In view of those facts, have you anything to say about District of Columbia finances, or any suggestions?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't, because I am not familiar enough with it to make any comments. I was once on the District Committee, but I didn't stay there very long, so I am not familiar with finances in the District, so I couldn't comment intelligently on it.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, who will take your place at the dedication of the U.N.?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any plans to attend the signing ceremonies for the Atlantic Treaty on April 4th?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I shall be present. That takes place here in Washington.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, you have seen Congressman Walter, chairman of the Democratic caucus, twice in the past day. Would you care to comment on those meetings?

THE PRESIDENT. I beg your pardon?

Q. You have had two meetings in the past day with Tad Walter, chairman of the Democratic caucus--

THE PRESIDENT. You out-count me one. I only saw him once.

Q. only saw him once, I beg your pardon.

THE PRESIDENT. I spent 15 minutes with him discussing the displaced persons bill.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, this morning Ed Pauley was in. Did you discuss Mexican oil with him?

THE PRESIDENT. I discussed the political situation in California with him.

Q. How was it, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Very well--very bright.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, I have been asked to ask you if you have any idea of appointing Gordon Dean of San Diego to the Atomic Energy Commission?

THE PRESIDENT. Gordon Dean has been under consideration along with several other people.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, has Mon Wallgren asked that his name be withdrawn?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he has not.

Q. Do you expect him to?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't--I haven't talked to him on the subject at all.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, did Ed Pauley tell you that Jimmy Roosevelt is going to run for Governor out there?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he did not.

Q. Did he tell you who was going to run?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he did not. [Laughter] You might ask him.

Q. He bowed out.

Q. He was a little elusive.

THE PRESIDENT. Was he? He has had experience with you before. [Laughter]

Q. We got him coming in, but coming out was a different matter.

[10.] Q. Have you had a report yet from the State Department on the coordinated military aid program?

THE PRESIDENT. It isn't ready yet. It's in the works. It has been discussed on numerous occasions, but it isn't yet ready to present to me for final decision.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us whether there is likely to be any statement on the China situation in the near future?

THE PRESIDENT. There will be no statement in the near future that I know of. No reason for it.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, have you got a statement from the Treasury yet on the prospective surplus or deficit for fiscal 1949?

THE PRESIDENT. I had a discussion on the subject with the Secretary of the Treasury just the other day, and the original estimate, he says, is working out almost to the dot.

Q. There will be a deficit of a hundred thousand--

THE PRESIDENT. A deficit--I don't know what the final appropriation bills will be-there is an estimated deficit of about $6 or $700 million.

Q. You mean for this fiscal year, Mr. President?


[13.] Q. Mr. President, have you any plans for a new Ambassador to Moscow?

THE PRESIDENT. We have been discussing the situation. I have been trying to persuade Mr. Bedell Smith to stay. I don't know whether he will or not. I think I am going to see him tomorrow morning to discuss the matter further.

Q. Mr. President, we have heard Dr. Bunche mentioned.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Several people have been mentioned, including Dr. Bunche. He has been mentioned.

Q. Has he been mentioned to you, or just in the columns?

THE PRESIDENT. He has been mentioned in the columns. Never been mentioned to me. Only been mentioned in the columns, as far as I know.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the vote in the House on pensions?

THE PRESIDENT. I was very happy that the House took the action it did. I think that is a constructive, forward-looking step, and I am exceedingly happy that they recommitted the bill.

Q. I notice, Mr. President, that the Republicans voted two to one with Mr. Rankin. Could you comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen the positive returns, and I have no comment, anyway.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, there has been some talk that General Smith might go to Germany to take over command of the occupied area there?

THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't heard that one. I have heard nearly every other one. They have had him all over the world, but that's one that's new. I haven't heard that one.

[16.] Q. Now that the filibustering is over, would you comment on your hope for civil rights legislation in the Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that at the present time. That comment must come later when the legislation comes up. I am still hopeful that we will get that program through.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, have you made any decision on Mon Wallgren, what to do in that case?

THE PRESIDENT. I am still back of Mon Wallgren for the job I appointed him to.2

2Earlier the President had nominated Mon C. Wallgren, former Governor of Washington, to be Chairman of the National Security Resources Board. The nomination was pending before the Senate.

Q. You still back him?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I never lay down on people. You ought to know that by this time, Pete.3 You had the first experience with it in St. Louis.

3 Raymond P. Brandt of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Q. Mr. President, there was gossip around the Capitol the other day that the Republicans on the committee might change? Do you know anything about that?

THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't heard anything about that.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, in the event that General Smith is not able to go back to Moscow, for considerations of health or otherwise, will he return to active military service in a command position?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't tell you what General Smith intends to do. You will have to ask him. He is a free agent.

[19.] Q. Are there any further plans for getting on the train and telling the people about your program, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I told you that I would give you plenty of time to pack your grips to take that trip. You will be informed in plenty of time.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, the Senate Appropriations Committee removed Reclamation Commissioner Straus, and Mr. Richard Boke, from their consideration in the deficiency appropriation bill; that is, for the payment of back salary--

THE PRESIDENT. I am very sorry that the Senate did that.

Q. I wondered if you had any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, you referred, before the mayors the other day, to the rent control bill which passed the House. Have you any comment to make on the bill which passed the Senate?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I will wait until the conference committee meets and sends me a bill, and then I will comment on the bill when it reaches me.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, do you expect to send a message on the U.N. cornerstone laying, inasmuch as you won't be there--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will--we have the matter under consideration. If I send one, I will give it to you in plenty of time so you can publish it.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, does cancellation of these two New York speeches, along with the Boston speeches, mean that you will not be out of town during April?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't expect to be out of town during April.

Q. That means no out-of-town engagements?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

[24.] Q. Mr. President, I notice you said that among other things you are going to see Congressmen. Is that a new attempt at reconciliation--

THE PRESIDENT. No, no. I always see Congressmen and Senators at their request. They have made so many requests that I have to stay here in order to see them. I never turn them down when they want to come in. That has always been the policy ever since I have been here.

[25.] Q. Mr. President, since you discussed the economic situation several months ago, the price of lead has dropped 10 percent--which is one of the nonferrous metals. Have you any comment as to the inflationary factors now?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't. There is no reason for me to comment.

[26.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think of the appointment of Dr. Graham as the Senator from North Carolina?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it was a wonderful appointment. Dr. Graham is a great American and a great citizen. I have sent him on several special missions myself, and he has always worked successfully in the public interest. He will make a good Senator.

[27.] Q. Mr. President, with respect to the Atlantic Treaty signing, do you expect to sign on behalf of the United States a new--

THE PRESIDENT. The Secretary of State will sign for the United States, just as the Secretary of State signed the United Nations Charter.

[28.] Q. Mr. President, you spoke of intending to have some interviews with Members of Congress. Can you tell us who?

THE PRESIDENT. No. They will appear on the record as they come in. You will be informed.

[29.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on the local option provision written in by the House and Senate on the rent control bill?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know anything about it. I haven't read the bill, in either instance, and I can't comment on it until it gets to my desk. Then I will comment on it copiously, if it needs comment.

[30.] Q. Mr. President, could I clarify the Dr. Bunche ambassadorship to Moscow? Did I understand you to say that he was under consideration by you?

THE PRESIDENT. I said that he had been mentioned in several columns as a possible Ambassador to Moscow, and that is as far as I went.

Q. Are you usually guided by columns? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. You ought to know, Tony!4

4Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

[31.] Q. Mr. President, getting back to these interviews--just to clear my own mind--these are at the request of Members and not at your request?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right. There are occasions when I ask Members of the various committees to come in and talk to me on subjects, but most of the requests come directly from the Congressmen and Senators themselves.

Q. You asked Congressman Walter come, didn't you?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I asked Congressman. Waiter to come in to discuss the displaced persons bill.

Q. Is there any priority system in answering their requests?

THE PRESIDENT. No priority. They will come in in the order in which they ask to come in.

Q. That might be in the nature of an "at home" for Congressmen?

THE PRESIDENT. Not necessary. It's an "at home" for the business of the Government.

Q. Is the principal reason that you are asking these--you are staying here to talk to the Members of Congress to cultivate close relations with them?

THE PRESIDENT. Always close relationships between Members of Congress and myself, in spite of what the columnists have had to say.

Q. Even closer?

THE PRESIDENT. Well yes, even closer.

Q. Mr. President, how many requests do you have from southern Members?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, quite a number. I have just as many of them as I do the other brand. Republicans, too, whenever they want to, can come in.

[32.] Q. In your two last--previous telegrams, you said international decisions had a part to play in cancellation. Is that true in this case too?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

[33.] Q. Mr. President, when are you going to send your national health bill to the Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. They are working on it now. It isn't ready. Whenever it's ready. I will let you know.

Q. Would it be substantially what you recommended in the past?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, of course it will be consistent with the message that has gone down on the subject.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You are entirely welcome.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and seventythird news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, 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/230045

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