Democrats adopt limit on aid bill (2-8-41)

Reading Eagle (February 8, 1941)

Maximum figure is set at $1,300,000,000
Washington, Feb. 8 (AP) –
The British-aid bill was sped toward House passage today by a surprise Democratic concession limiting to about $1,300,000,000 the value of military equipment, existing or appropriated for, which could be transferred to foreign countries.

This unexpected proposal was made late yesterday by Rep. Bloom (D-NY) – and quickly accepted by the House – in order to ward off a demand of Rep. Taber (R-NY) for a $500,000,000 maximum on disposition of defense material either on hand or covered by current appropriations.

Its adoption, at the close of a day in which all opposition amendments were beaten down, left up for decision at an unusual Saturday session these other suggested major changes in the bill:

  1. An amendment by Rep. Wadsworth (R-NY) to limit the total aid to Great Britain to $7,000,000,000 of Army and Navy material.
  2. A demand by Rep. Fish (R-NY) to prohibit the use of American ports by belligerent warships.
  3. A substitute for the administration plan, by Rep. Eaton (R-NJ), to lend $2,000,000,000 to Britain, iof collateral was available, for the purchase of American war supplies.

House leaders were pressing for a final vote on the bill before nightfall.

Willkie to talk Monday

On the Senate side of the Capitol, the Foreign Relations Committee called former Gov. Alf M. Landon of Kansas, the 1936 Republican presidential nominee, to testify on the measure. Wendell L. Willkie, the 1940 Republican presidential nominee, is scheduled to testify Monday.

In the House, administration forces expected to gain a number of Republican votes for the bill by their action in limiting the present defense material which could be turned over to Britain or other countries. The proposal, as adopted on a roaring voice vote, read:

The value of defense articles disposed of in any way under authority of this paragraph, and procured from funds heretofore appropriated, shall not exceed 10% of the total amount appropriated for defense articles during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1941.

Speaker Rayburn told the House, and Taber agreed later, that the 10% would be between $1,200,000,000 and $1,300,000,000. The limitation, it appeared, would not apply to any material produced with funds which Congress might vote after July 1, the beginning of the next fiscal year.

The amendment, Democratic leaders explained, was designed to meet opposition arguments that the President might give away all the navy or air force under the authority granted in the bill.