Neutrality Act issue – Broad revision goes to Senate (10-26-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 26, 1941)

Neutrality Act issue –
Broad revision goes to Senate

Lifting of zone bans added to House bill

Washington, Oct. 25 (UP) –
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee tonight put squarely up to Congress whether to let American ships sail the Seven Seas under their own flag and protected by their own guns.

Debate on the issue will begin in the Senate Monday and administration leaders were confident of victory there by a 55–60 vote margin within two weeks. Speaker Sam Rayburn predicted that the House would approve it by a margin of 60 votes.

Opponents of the measure were quick to charge that the administration had embarked on a “go-to-war” program but there was no indication of any intention to filibuster.

Committee vote close

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on removing all Neutrality Act restrictions on American shipping in the war zones of the world was 12–11. The issue was presented in a substitute for the House bill to arm merchant ships which added repeal of two other sections of the Neutrality Act.

One of the sections that would be repealed denies American ships entry into belligerent ports and the other prohibits them from sailing through combat zones delineated by President Roosevelt.

The enlargement of the House ship-arming bill into an all-out repealer on shipping restrictions was accomplished on motion of Senate Democratic Leader Alben W. Barkley of Kentucky, acting for himself, Chairman Tom Connally (D-TX) and Senator Walter F. George (D-GA).

Administration OK given

This put official administration sponsorship on a move started by three younger Democratic members of the Foreign Relations Committee – Claude Pepper (FL), Josh Lee (OK), and Theodore Green (RI).

The action also served to head off Republican attempts to repeal the Neutrality Law outright – a move supported by Wendell L. Willkie, titular Republican chief, and more than 100 other party leaders.

Senator Henrik Shipstead (R-MN) said that previous administration “short-of-war” steps in foreign policy had taken the nation 75% into the war and added:

If this is also a step “short of war” that takes us in 100%, the die is cast and the subtle program of the War Party stands barefaced before the world.

The following is the committee vote on the substitute:

Yay Nay
Connally (D-TX) Van Nuys (D-IN)
George (D-GA) Reynolds (D-NC)
Wagner (D-NY) Gillette (D-LA)
Thomas (D-UT) Clark (D-MO)
Murray (D-MT) Johnson (R-CA)
Pepper (D-FL) Capper (R-KS)
Green (D-RI) La Follette (P-WS)
Barkley (D-KY) Vandenberg (R-MI)
Guffey (D-PA) White (R-MO)
Lee (D-OK) Shipstead (R-MN)
Tunnell (D-DE) Nye (R-ND)
Glass (D-VA)
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