Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

May 26, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I have today signed Senate bill 1704, an act to strengthen and improve the organization and administration of the State Department.1

1For the President's special message to the Congress on reorganization of the Department of State, see Item 47.

I will submit to the Senate the following nominations to fill additional posts of Assistant Secretary of State--

Q. Will you read it slowly, please, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. All right. [Laughter] W. Walton Butterworth of Louisiana.

Q. Butterworth?

THE PRESIDENT. Butterworth.

Q. Of Louisiana?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. John D. Hickerson of Texas. George C.--

Q. lust a minute.

Q. What ? George C.?

THE PRESIDENT. Megee--M-e-g-e-e.

Q. Would you spell McGhee again for us, please?

THE PRESIDENT. The way they have it written here is M-e-g-e-e.

Q. Of Texas?

THE PRESIDENT. Should be M-c. Of Texas, yes. George C. McGhee of Texas. M-c-G-h-e-e.

Edward G. Miller, Jr., of New York.

Q. Edward G. Miller, Jr., of New York.

THE PRESIDENT. George W. Perkins of New York. Assistant Secretary Saltzman has resigned. And I am also sending to the Senate the nomination--

Q. Do you have his first name, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't Saltzman's first name. Charlie2 will have the release for you when you get out of here.

2Charles G. Ross, Secretary to the President.

I am also sending to the Senate the nomination of Adrian S. Fisher of Tennessee to be Legal Adviser to the State Department, which post has been vacant since the elevation of Ernest Gross to an Assistant Secretaryship.

In addition, George F. Kennan of Wisconsin is being nominated for appointment as Counselor for the State Department, to take Mr. Bohlen's place.

Q. Can we have that name again, please, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. K-e-n-n-a-n.

Q. He's the Russian expert, isn't he?

THE PRESIDENT. He has been an adviser to the State Department in a general capacity, but he is the Russian expert, or has been called the Russian expert.

And Bohlen, who was former Counselor, has gone to Paris as Minister.

Q. Where is he from, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Kennan? From Wisconsin.

Q. Isn't Fisher over at the Atomic Energy Commission now?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer the question. I don't know.

Q. Aren't all these career men, Mr. President? I think they are.

THE PRESIDENT. No, they are not. No, I don't think there's--one or two of them that are career men.

Q. Hickerson is.

THE PRESIDENT. Charlie will give you the information, with the background, where they were born, what they have done, and where they were educated--everything of that sort.

Q. Mr. President, can you say just which areas of the world these different men will--

THE PRESIDENT. That will be furnished you in the release.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Hickenlooper has suggested that Mr. Lilienthal resign.3 Would you comment on--

THE PRESIDENT. I want to read you a statement, just before you start on that, that will answer a lot of your questions and eliminate a lot of confusion. [Reading]: "I personally know that the country's position--what the country's position on atomic energy is. We are making good progress. Our situation has been vastly improved in the last 2 years under the Atomic Energy Commission. I deplore the fact that relatively trivial items have been blown up to proportions that threaten the integrity of the program.

3On May 22, 1949, Senator Bourke B. Hickenlooper of Iowa, ranking minority member of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and formerly its chairman, issued a statement to the press stating that the Atomic Energy Commission was "staggering under daily disclosure of evidence of incredible mismanagement" and calling for the resignation of the Chairman, David E. Lilienthal. An investigation by the Joint Committee followed.

For the Joint Committee's report, "Investigation into the United States Atomic Energy Commission," dated October 13, 1949, see Senate Report 1169, parts I and 2 (81st Cong., 1st sees.). The report concluded that "the committee is satisfied that the investigation discloses no instance where the Commission violated the McMahon Act," and that the investigation, "while fruitless in proving the charges of incredible mismanagement,' has served to highlight the nature of our atomic project and its manifold problems and ramifications, and has further served to bring home to the people of the United States that in operations of such a unique character mistakes and errors of judgment are bound to occur."

On November 23, 1949, the White House released the text of the President's letter accepting the resignation of Mr. Lilienthal as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. Mr. Lilienthal served in the post from October 28, 1946, when he was appointed by the President, until February 15, 1950, when his resignation became effective.

"It is time people stopped getting hysterical when the word 'atom' is mentioned. The plain fact is that the atomic energy program is in good shape, and is in good hands. I hope the Commission will soon be able to get back to work, and that the atomic energy program will cease to be used for preelection campaigns.

"I have every confidence in Mr. Lilienthal."

I don't think I can say anything more emphatic than that.

Does that answer your question? [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, was that last sentence in the statement, or was that something you just added--

THE PRESIDENT. That's in the statement--

Q.--confidence in Lilienthal?

THE PRESIDENT. No, that's my own conversation.

Q. Would you be good enough to repeat that, please?

THE PRESIDENT. I have the utmost confidence in Mr. Lilienthal. He has made a good chairman, and I am satisfied with the way he has been handling things.

Q. Will Mr. Ross have copies of this statement for us?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think he has, but we'll have copies made.

Q. Mr. President, last summer, when the Congress was interested in the Communist matter, you said they were "red herrings." Do you feel that is applicable--

THE PRESIDENT. The "red herring" was used in an entirely different connection, and it was exactly correct when it was used.

Q. It would not apply to these circumstances?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know whether it does or not. Let's wait and see.

Do you know what the definition of "red herring" is ?

Q. No.

THE PRESIDENT. Some of you didn't seem to know. It is something that is blown up to take the place of something under cover that somebody else wants to do, that isn't exactly in the public interest. So you won't apply that term to this, yet. [Laughter]

Q. If the private power interests get more active, will you apply it--

THE PRESIDENT. We will wait and see.

Q. Mr. President, do you still favor full civilian control of atomic energy?

THE PRESIDENT. I certainly do.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment to make on recommittal of the armed services pay bill?

THE PRESIDENT. I am sorry that they recommitted it. I was very much--I would have been very highly pleased if it had passed. It had been worked on very carefully, and was a scientific approach to the service pay of the Army, Navy, and Air Corps.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, are you considering Silliman Evans for the Chairman of the National Security Resources Board?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I am not.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, do you think there is any merit in the proposal that Congress should appropriate funds to finance presidential campaigns for both parties?

THE PRESIDENT. That has been under discussion ever since I have been in the Senate, and I never did come to a conclusion on. it. Presidential campaigns have been very capably handled by the different political parties. Senator Hatch started to put that in the Hatch Act, but it didn't get in.

Q. Do you think it might be a good time to put it in?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on the subject at all.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think about the proposal of Representative Mills of Arkansas to expedite payment of corporate taxes?

THE PRESIDENT, I am not entirely familiar with the subject. Congressman Mills has talked the matter over with me. It is under consideration in the Treasury. You will get an answer as soon as we have had a chance to analyze it.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, the Congress this.. afternoon passed the District revenue bill,. and we understand that Senator Hunt has telephoned the White House and the Budget Bureau asking that action be completed on the bill before the end of this month, in order to save loss of a month's revenue. Have you got any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. We always act on bills just as expeditiously as we can.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, have you abandoned hope of passage this year of legislation increasing the tax rate?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not.

Q. May I have that question again?

THE PRESIDENT. He wanted to know if I had abandoned hope of a tax increase, and I said no.

Q. It was mentioned by Mr. Lucas,4 sir, the other day.

THE PRESIDENT. How's that?

4Senator Scott W. Lucas of Illinois, Senate majority leader. After an interview with Senator Lucas on May 24 the press reported that congressional leaders hoped to adjourn the current session by July 31, even if measures given high priority by the administration had to be postponed until the next session.

Q. It was mentioned by Mr. Lucas.

THE PRESIDENT. I had been in touch with Mr. Lucas, and he tells me that his complete interview was not published, that he had made the statement that there were a great many things before the Congress, and that it might be necessary to extend the session in order to complete the job which is now before them. And that is exactly what Sam Rayburn said, and I knew that they were in agreement because they were in agreement when they went out of here.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, I would like to ask a question on statehood for Alaska and Hawaii. I believe you are already on record in favor of statehood for both of these territories?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q. There is a report on the Hill this morning that you had asked the Rules Committee to report out a bill for statehood for Alaska without regard to Hawaii?

THE PRESIDENT. That is not true. I asked for both of them.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, can you give us any personal preference or priority on bills.

THE PRESIDENT. I can't give you any personal preference or priority. I am for everything having priority.

Q. Can't get it all?

THE PRESIDENT. No. We want to get as much as we can. Doesn't do any good for the Congress to adjourn the 31st of July if we don't get it, either.

[11.] Q. There has been no decision about Dwight Morrow for Ambassador to Belgium?

THE PRESIDENT. No, there has not.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, in your conversation with Mr. Lucas, did he give you a tentative date?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't give a tentative date, and neither can anybody else.

Q. Mr. President, to clear it up, are you in favor of holding Congress in session--

THE PRESIDENT. I think Congress ought to finish the job so far as it can; and I think it will.

Q. Until the whole program--

THE PRESIDENT. Doesn't make any difference how long it will take.

Q. Is it possible to include enactment of--

THE PRESIDENT. I am not answering any questions--specific questions about specific bills. My program is before the Congress, and I am for--

Q. National health--

THE PRESIDENT. --I am for all of them.

Q. Are you satisfied, Mr. President, with the progress of your program so far?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I am. I think it has made progress. All this conversation is to prevent the making of progress.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think of this Tydings resolution5 for a 5 percent cut on all--

THE PRESIDENT. I am not in favor of it. That is not the way for the Congress to act on appropriation bills?

5S.J. Res. 94 introduced May 19 by Senators Millard E. Tydings and Herbert R. O'Conor of Maryland and by Senator Clyde M. Reed of Kansas. This was one of a number of bills the general purpose of which was to reduce expenditures by providing for an across-the-board cut of 5 or 10 percent in each appropriation bill as enacted.

Q. How about the ECA cut?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not for it. I think it is a bad idea, especially with the foreign ministers sitting in Paris.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, could you tell us that--a little more fully--specifically, how the tax legislation will get before the Congress at this session?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question. That is up to the Congress. I tell

them what I think the country ought to have, and it is up to the Congress to work it out. I can't run the legislative branch of the Government. It's none of my business.

[15.] Q. Some of us got the rather firm impression from Senator Lucas the other morning that, aside from pending matters before the Congress, there were three matters that he said had ranking priority, one of which was labor, the other reciprocal trade, and the other was the North Atlantic Pact; that some of the other legislation on the program, such as taxes, such as national health insurance, might not get to the--

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer a hypothetical question, Bob.6 That's all that is.

6 Robert G. Nixon of International News Service.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, are you considering a new assignment for Governor Ernest Gruening of Alaska?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not. I appointed him Governor of Alaska, and he is going to stay Governor of Alaska. [Laughter]

[17.] Q. Mr. President, you haven't indicated on the District sales tax whether you approve the--

THE PRESIDENT. I will tell you what I will do with it when it comes before me in the form of a bill. When it gets here, I will tell you what I will do with it.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, getting back to Lilienthal, will you renew your plan to restore the full terms--the staggered terms of--

THE PRESIDENT. I suggested that that be done, and I think it will be done before this Congress adjourns.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, you are still planning to go to Little Rock next month?

THE PRESIDENT. I have it under consideration.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're entirely welcome.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and eightythird news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 26, 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/229476

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