Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

July 14, 1949

THE PRESIDENT, I have one short announcement to make to you, because I know you will ask some questions about it if I don't announce it.

[1.] [Reading, not literally]: "In the recent Economic Report to Congress, 1 I made the following statement."

1 See Item 151.

This will be available for you in mimeographed form when you go out.

[Continuing reading] "'There are a number of Federal programs of direct action or assistance to localities which can be timed and channeled so as to concentrate upon areas where unemployment is heavy, without sacrifice of general national objectives. This principle of wise selectivity is particularly applicable to the procurement and construction activities--'" and so forth.

And I have asked the Assistant to the President, Dr. Steelman, to assume responsibility for directing these activities. I should appreciate the people to whom this goes--all members of the Cabinet, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Director of the Bureau of the Budget, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, the Administrator for Economic Cooperation, Administrator for General Services, the Administrator, Housing and Home Finance, the Chairman of the United States Maritime Commission--and others--and Dr. Steelman is going to coordinate their activities.

The Secretary of Commerce is making a special investigation now of the various 'places where there is local unemployment, and this will be coordinated with these boards and bureaus, and we are going to see if we can get some direct action on the subject.

Q. Is New England one of those, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. That remains to be seen. We are making the investigation now, and when the Secretary of Commerce makes his report, then they all will be coordinated. If New England is one of them, why it will be--

Q. What funds are involved, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Just the ordinary appropriations.

Q. Mr. President, you said that it was not justified having a general program--

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct.

Q.--larger than the one you had set forth?

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct.

Q. Do you intend to go into these areas with a public works program?

THE PRESIDENT. No. This is to ask the regular procurement officers of the Government where they can make purchases, and in localities like this, to do just that. That's what it means.

Q. It doesn't increase the size of the budget, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No, it doesn't. Has no effect on the budget whatever.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, there is going to be a conference called the Bill of Rights Conference in New York this weekend. I wonder if you care to comment on the fact that Clifford Durr, president of the National Lawyers Guild, Henry Wallace, and Paul Robeson say that at that conference they are going to demand an investigation of the FBI?

THE PRESIDENT. They have got a perfect right to make that demand, but I have no comment on anything that that gang would want to do.

Q. What did you say?

THE PRESIDENT. We took care of them in the last election.

Q. Did you say "gang"?


[3.] Q. Mr. President, in the debate now going on in the Senate, Senator Taft has said that the Atlantic Treaty absolutely commits the United States to furnish arms to Europe. Is that your understanding, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Senator Taft is entitled to his opinion, and I have no comment on his opinion.

Q. What is your opinion, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no opinion to express, at the present time.

[4.] Q. Would you care to comment on Senator Wherry's resolution, 2 which specifically--

THE PRESIDENT. I would not.

2 On May 26, 1949, Senator Kenneth S. Wherry of Nebraska introduced a bill "to reduce Government expenditures for the fiscal year 1950, balance the budget, avert an increase in taxes or rise in the national debt, and maintain a sound national fiscal policy as a basis for the security and economic well-being of the United States."

[5.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything new on steel, please?

THE PRESIDENT. What's that?

Q. Anything new in the steel situation?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no. You have everything on steel that I can comment on, following those telegrams that were sent out last night. 3

3 See Item 153.

Q. Will you appoint the board tomorrow, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I will attend to that tomorrow.

Q. Mr. President, Mr. Ross 4 already said so.

4 Charles G. Ross, Press Secretary.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, a few weeks ago you said you were in favor of an oil loan for Mexico?

THE PRESIDENT. I know. I am still in favor of it. I am still in favor of it.

Q. Is there any progress that you can tell us about?

THE PRESIDENT. I cannot. I notice you asked that same question of the Secretary of State, and if he can't answer it, of course, I can't.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, in respect to the telegrams to the steel companies, if I may bring that up briefly?


Q. Should there be any breaking of the truce--the 60-day truce--either by the union or the companies, do you feel, sir, that there are Executive powers with which you can enforce that truce period?

THE PRESIDENT. No, there isn't. I am satisfied, though, if they agree to the truce, that it will not be broken.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, it has been ported that you have refused to help in one of the appeals from Frank Hague of New Jersey, and suggested that he jump in the Delaware River?

THE PRESIDENT. It isn't true. That is one out of the whole cloth. No such request has ever been made to me, and I don't interfere in local State affairs, anyway.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, did you ask Mayor O'Dwyer to run again for reelection?

THE PRESIDENT. We did not discuss that subject.

Q. Did you discuss the senatorial race in New York with him?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I did. He brought it up.

Q. He brought it up?


Q. Was his possible candidacy for Senator discussed?

THE PRESIDENT. It was not.

Q. Did you ask him here, Mr. President?


Q. who asked him here?

THE PRESIDENT. He asked himself here, and I was glad to see him. He said he would like to come down and talk to me about New York politics, and that is what he did.

Q. He indicated that you were finished with him in about one minute, when he came out.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, he was in here about 20 minutes. It was a very pleasant meeting with the mayor of the greatest city in the United States. I see all the mayors when they want to come in to see me, and discuss any subject they want to discuss.

Q. Mr. President, did you discuss ex-Governor Lehman?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, we discussed ex-Governor Lehman. The mayor did. I am not in New York politics.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, while we are on politics, Hugh Scott said this afternoon that he would like to resign 5 but he can't until he can get some harmony in the Republican Party. Is there any advice you have for them?

THE PRESIDENT. The less harmony in the Republican Party the better suited I am. [Laughter]

5 On July 18, 1949, Representative Hugh D. Scott, Jr., of Pennsylvania announced that he would resign from his position as chairman of the Republican National Committee. The resignation became effective on August 4.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, to get back to Missouri, do you approve of Richard Nacy's 6 lobbying against the southwestern power--

THE PRESIDENT. I certainly do not, and I didn't know he was lobbying against it.

6 Richard R. Nacy, banking executive and a member of the Missouri State Democratic Committee from the Second District.

Q. He talked to each of the Missouri delegates--

THE PRESIDENT. It didn't have any effect on them, I can assure you of that--

Q. It may get back there.

THE PRESIDENT.--I can assure you of that.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, will you go ahead and appoint this steel fact-finding board, 7 in the event that United States Steel, Republic, and Bethlehem turn it down?

THE PRESIDENT. I will meet that situation when it confronts me.

7 On July 15, 1949, the President appointed a three-member fact-finding board to review the steel dispute and report back to him within 45 days from July 16. The deadline was later extended to September 10 by the President's letter of August 26 to the chairman of the board, Carroll Daugherty. The board was composed of Mr. Daugherty of Evanston, Ill., David L. Cole of Paterson, N.J., and Judge Samuel I. Rosenman of New York City. The board's report, submitted to the President on September 10, 1949, is entitled "Report to the President of the United States on the Labor Dispute in the Basic Steel Industry" (Government Printing Office: 1949, 83 pp.).

Q. Mr. President, have you heard from United States Steel since last night?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not.

Q. Have you heard from anybody in response to those telegrams?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I have no answers from them, as yet. They have to deliberate on it a little while.

Q. Would you like to tell us whether you think there will be a steel strike or not?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think I ought to comment on it until I find out whether my effort to prevent a work stoppage works.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to comment on your invitation to a group of Congressmen to meet here at 5 o'clock this afternoon at the Blair House?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know that any group is going to meet me at 5 o'clock this afternoon. If they are, I haven't heard about it.

Q. It is supposed to be the Atomic Energy Committee from Capitol Hill, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I am having a conference this evening at the Blair House with a bunch of people that I have called in 8 but there is nothing to comment on.

8 According to newspaper reports on the following day, the information that a meeting was to be held sometime during the evening of the 14th at the Blair House became known that afternoon. The meeting dealt with the question of British and Canadian participation in the atomic energy program. See also Items 161 and 166.

Q. Mr. President, would it be that same group?

THE PRESIDENT. It might be. [Laughter]

[14.] Q. Mr. President, this is not an obvious question. Would you prefer or hope that the North Atlantic Treaty could be adopted or ratified without any reservations?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course it should be.

Q. Without what?

THE PRESIDENT. Without reservations.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, assuming that there is a steel strike in the big three or the big four steel companies, and the others operate through some sort of modus vivendi, would you consider that a national emergency under the Taft-Hartley Act?

THE PRESIDENT. That matter will have to be met when the situation develops. An emergency would not develop under the Taft-Hartley Act in the case of a total steel strike for some time. I was merely trying to avoid a work stoppage and see if we couldn't negotiate an agreement. It has been customary for Presidents in times past, and for the Secretaries of Labor in times past, and for the Conciliation Commissions, to appoint these fact finding boards. It is nothing new.

Q. Well, I have in mind statements that Senator Taft has made repeatedly, that he thought there was only one real national emergency under the Taft-Hartley Act, in the sense that the authors of that understood national emergency, and that was the first coal strike?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think we acted in the first coal strike after 5 weeks. The emergency did not develop for 5 weeks, until the coal was all used up, if I remember correctly.

Q. Yes, but there were several others where national emergency action was taken, and Senator Taft has indicated that he did not--

THE PRESIDENT. What were the others? I don't remember the others, except the railroad strike, and when there is a strike in the railroads, it is an emergency the next day, you all know that.

Q. Four maritime strikes, one on meat packing, one in communications--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it took sometime for the emergency to develop, and when the emergency comes about and it is the belief of the President that there is a national emergency, he usually declares it under the law. That's the rule I have been following. I don't care what his point was.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, do you regard John L. Lewis and his 3-day week as a burden and restriction on production?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that, Miss May. 9

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

[17.] Q. Mr. President, on the question of Hawaii, Senator Thomas of the Labor Committee has said that he thinks the government out there has full powers to deal with the strike, and should do so. Do you share that opinion?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, there is a report from the Hill today that you plan to submit very shortly the reorganization plan involving the defense establishment. Is that so?

THE PRESIDENT. We have been working on it--trying to get it ready.

Q. Is that when you will submit the military assistance program?

THE PRESIDENT. I have not anything of the kind in contemplation at this moment.

Q. Is that in the form of an Executive order, Mr. President, regarding unification?

THE PRESIDENT. It is the same sort of reorganization plan as any other reorganization plan would be, worked in exactly the same way. It will be in the form of an Executive order and will be sent to the Congress; and if it stays in for 60 days and is not voted down, it will be the law.

Q. That is the armed services unification--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, that's right.

Q. Mr. President, does it carry out the rough approximate division of the bill that was brought up--[inaudible]

THE PRESIDENT, It is not in its final form yet. If I send a reorganization plan down, it will be one which I approve. 10

10 See Item 158.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, the Appropriations Committee tentatively made quite drastic cuts in appropriations for the Atomic Energy Commission. Would you care to comment on that at all?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think that's final--

Q. No, it isn't as yet.

THE PRESIDENT.--and I can't do anything about it.

Q. Will you do anything to see that it doesn't become final?

THE PRESIDENT. I am doing the best I can to see that it doesn't become final.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, the House to day passed the overtime-on-overtime bill with retroactive features. Do you care to say whether you intend to sign or veto the measure, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen it, and I will have to have it analyzed by the Attorney General and by the interested departments before I can make comment on it. 11

11 On July 20, 1949, the President signed H.R. 858, "A bill to clarify the overtime compensation provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended" (Public Law 177, 63 Stat. 446).

[21.] Q. Mr. President, are you satisfied with the conduct of the Hiss trial by Judge Kaufman?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that Judge Kaufman is a good judge. I appointed him to the bench, and I think he has acted all right. I don't think it's a very good idea to discredit the courts; and my authority for that statement is Mr. Bob Patterson, who was my Secretary of War.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, do you care to comment on the recent meeting of the President of the Philippines and General Chiang Kai-shek?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No, I can't comment on that.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, will you approve the $50 million out of ECA for aid to Franco?

THE PRESIDENT. I would not. Period.

Q. What was that figure?

THE PRESIDENT. Fifty million for Franco.

Q. Does that mean you would veto the ECA appropriation?

THE PRESIDENT. I will attend to that when it comes before me. I can't veto a bill by voice vote. 12 [Laughter]

12 On October 6, 1949, the President signed the Foreign Aid Appropriation Act of 1950 (63 Stat. 709).

Q. Would you say why, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Because we are not on friendly relations with Spain at the present time, and there is a certain way in which that situation can be developed. If the other European countries vote to take Spain in, and they can convince us that Spain is to come in, that's a different matter. The matter has been put up to that European organization by Portugal sometime ago, and no action has ever been taken on it.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and eighty-ninth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 14, 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/229711

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