Financial limit on British aid rejected by House group (1-30-41)

Reading Eagle (January 30, 1941)


Washington, Jan. 30 (AP) –
The administration’s British-aid bill was approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee today after efforts to write in a financial limit had been defeated.

The committee’s action cleared the way for House debate of the measure, probably Monday.

Vote on final approval was taken quickly after the committee had defeated a proposal to place a $2,000,000,000 limit on transactions under the bill.

When the committee session broke up, Chairman Bloom (D-NY) announced the bill was reported out for House action with four major amendments adopted yesterday, but he declined to disclose the vote by which the committee gave its approval, saying:

You’ll have to ask individual members about that.

Other sources reported the vote was 17 to 8.

Bloom disclosed that in the last few minutes of its meeting, the committee had rejected six amendments. Ranging from an entirely new bill based on loans of money to Great Britain to a proposal to strike out a section authorizing the Secretaries of War and Navy to acquire arms and ammunition in a foreign country.

The four amendments which were approved by the committee would:

  • Limit the operation of the bill to the period ending June 30, 1943.
  • Require the President to consult with Army and Navy chiefs before disposing of any war material produced specifically for the defense of the United States.
  • Require the President to report to Congress at least every 90 days on transactions under the bill, except that he would not have to disclose information he considered incompatible with the public interest.
  • Provide specifically that nothing in the bill grants any power for the President to order naval vessels into service to escort cargo convoys.

Both Democrats and Republicans on the House committee saw no chance for reconsideration of the four amendments written into the bill yesterday.

Initial reaction in some Congressional quarters after a study of the amendments was that their wording appeared to make possible considerable latitude in interpretation.

Chairman Bloom (D-NY) discussing the convoy amendment, explained it in this way:

We simply take the convoy question out of this bill. If the President has the authority to order convoys under the Constitution, or under any power as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, or under any other law, we can’t and won’t take it away from him in this bill.

We just make sure that nothing in this bill can possibly be construed as giving him any [convoy] authority he doesn’t already have.

Representative Mundt (R-SD) tried to write into the bill the specific prohibition of any convoys, but his proposal was turned down. In all, 15 amendments of various kinds were rejected, the votes generally following party lines.