|17. Statement by the President on the Rejection by the House of Representatives of the Korean Aid Bill|
January 21, 1950 |
I AM releasing herewith a letter which I have received from the Secretary of State about the action of the House of Representatives in rejecting the Korean aid bill on Thursday by a vote of 193 to 191. I entirely concur in the Secretary's views as to the seriousness of this action and the necessity for its speedy rectification. I shall take up this matter with congressional leaders and urge upon them the need for immediate action, in order that important foreign policy interests of this country may be properly safeguarded.
NOTE: The letter of the Secretary of State, dated January 20, follows:
"Dear Mr. President:
"The Department of State received with concern and dismay the report that the House of Representatives had rejected the Korean Aid Bill of 1949 by a vote of 193 to 191. This action, if not quickly repaired, will have the most far-reaching adverse effects upon our foreign policy, not only in Korea but in many other areas of the world. It has been fundamental to our policy that in those areas where a reasonable amount of American aid can make the difference between the maintenance of national independence and its collapse under totalitarian pressure, we should extend such aid within a prudent assessment of our capabilities. The American people understand this policy and have supported our extending aid in such circumstances; the success of such aid is a matter of public record.
"The Republic of Korea owes its existence in large measure to the United States, which freed the country from Japanese control. The peoples of the Republic of Korea, the other peoples of Asia, and the members of the United Nations under whose observation a government of the Republic was freely elected, alike look to our conduct in Korea as a measure of the seriousness of our concern with the freedom and welfare of peoples maintaining their independence in the face of great obstacles. We have not only given the Republic of Korea independence; since then we have provided the economic, military, technical, and other assistance necessary to its continued existence. Of the current program of economic assistance we are extending to Korea, half was provided by the Congress during the previous session. The withholding of the remainder would bring our efforts to an end in mid-course. It is our considered judgment that if our limited assistance is continued the Republic will have a good chance of survival as a free nation. Should such further aid be denied, that chance may well be lost and all our previous efforts perhaps prove to have been vain.
"We are concerned not only about the consequences of this abrupt about-face in Korea, whose government and people have made valiant efforts to win their independence and establish free institutions under the most difficult circumstances, but we are also deeply concerned by the effect which would be created in other parts of the world where our encouragement is a major element in the struggle for freedom.
"It is difficult for us to believe that the Members of the House of Representatives who voted against this measure took sufficiently into account the serious implications of this action upon the position of the United States in the Far East. These implications were set forth in considerable detail in hearings before the committees of Congress by the Department of State, Department of Defense and the Economic Cooperation Administration.
"In our judgment it would be disastrous for the foreign policy of the United States for us to consider this action by the House of Representatives as its last word on the matter.
On February 14, 1950, the President approved the Far Eastern Economic Assistance Act of 1950 (64 Stat. 5).
Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project. John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.