Conscription Deferred By Senate Snag (9-13-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (September 13, 1940)


Industrial Draft Provision Incurs Displeasure of Senator Russell

By Ronald G. Van Tine, United Press Staff Writer

Washington, Sept. 13 –

Senate adoption of the final draft of the conscription bill was delayed temporarily today when Senator Richard B. Russell (D-GA) voiced opposition to the measure’s present industrial conference amendment.

Senator Russell, co-author of the original Senate amendment for the compulsory cooperation of industry in defense, objected to the action of Senate conferees in accepting the House version of the industrial provision.

The Senate met at 11 a.m., an hour earlier than usual, to approve the conference report on the conscription bill and send it to the House. But plans for speedy action were disrupted by Senator Russell who conferred frequently with Democratic Leader Alben W. Barkley and Chairman Morris Sheppard of the Senate Military Affairs Committee. There was no immediate indication as to when the measure would be called up.

The measure, which calls for the registration of men 21 to 35 for compulsory military training will go to the House for final approval and then to President Roosevelt for signature.

Once signed, the draft machinery will be set in motion throughout the country – the first time in history that men have been compelled to carry arms in peacetime.

Chairman Andrew J. May of the House conferees said:

We are going to take up the conference report around 2 p.m. and proceed to adopt it at once by an overwhelming vote.

The report, a privileged matter, is subject to an hour’s debate in the House; unlimited debate in the Senate.

Leaders of the Senate isolationist bloc, who have denounced the bill as “a step toward dictatorship,” indicated that their fight against the report will be confined to attacks on the action of the conferees in abandoning the so-called Fish Amendment which would have delayed the draft 60 days pending trial of a voluntary enlistment program. Isolationists conceded that they had no chance of altering the report.

Senator Bennett C. Clark (D-MO), an isolationist leader, said:

We’ll probably bullyrag them a bit, but we know that we cannot halt the bill’s progress now.

In the House, Representative Hamilton Fish (R-NY), sponsor of the “waiting period” clause, announced that he would seek time to make a last-minute effort to salvage his proposal. He said in a formal statement that his amendment “has nothing to do with politics, votes or Election Day.”