Record of the 78th Congress (12-21-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (December 21, 1943)

Background of news –
Record of the 78th Congress

By Richard M. Boeckel, editorial research reports

The 1943 session of the 78th Congress, which adjourns today, has been marked by close cooperation on foreign policy and sharp differences between the executive and legislative branches of the government on every domestic policy of leading importance.

The principle of U.S. participation in a post-war world organization to prevent aggression and preserve the peace was endorsed by the Senate in the Connally Resolution and by the House in the Fulbright Resolution – both adopted by overwhelming votes. The Lend-Lease Act was extended for one year and the Trade Agreements Act for two years by the largest majorities ever given for these measures. Extraterritorial rights in China were relinquished and the long-standing policy of Chinese exclusion was abandoned in gestures of friendship to China.

Action of Congress on domestic policies recommended by the administration has contrasted sharply with its unbroken support of the President’s foreign policies. The President’s veto of the Connally-Smith Anti-Strike Bill in June was overridden immediately after it was received at the Capitol. The House sustained the veto in July of a bill to outlaw government food subsidies, but has since passed a new anti-subsidy bill which is now pending in the Senate.

Compromise on Ruml Plan

The $25,000 salary limitation, imposed by executive order, was rescinded by a bill which the President allowed to become law without his signature. The power of the President to alter the gold content of the dollar was not renewed by Congress.

The administration succeeded in preventing adoption of the Ruml Plan to abate 1942 income tax liabilities in full, but was forced to accept a compromise on the “forgiveness” issue in the Current Tax Payment Act. In response to the administration’s request for $10.5 billion of additional revenue, the House passed a tax bill which will yield only a little more than $2 billion.

Appropriations for what Congress considered “non-essential” activities were subjected to sharp reductions. Requests for military and naval appropriations were allowed in full, for the most part, but some impatience was displayed with estimates which were believed to be in excess of current needs.

The National Youth Administration, the National Resources Planning Board and several other New Deal agencies were terminated by a denial of further appropriations. Federal crop insurance was dropped and cuts were made in appropriations for the Office of Price Administration and the Office of War Information because of Congressional dissatisfaction with certain of their policies.

Service allotments increased

War Manpower Commissioner McNutt was deprived of authority over the Selective Service System, and his “work-or-fight” orders were nullified, but the administration was able to prevent other fundamental changes in draft policies. A bill for blanket deferment of farm laborers from the draft was held up in the House after passage by the Senate.

Sharp increases in allowances for dependents of servicemen were voted by both houses and an effort is now being made to obtain enactment before Christmas of a bill for payment of generous mustering-out bonuses to discharged servicepeople. An administration soldier-voting bill which would have set up a federal war ballot commission was rejected by the Senate in favor of a substitute which would do no more than “recommend” new legislation by the states, to facilitate soldier voting.

The Senate shelved a federal-aid-to-education bill long sought by the administration; it passed a bill for government war bond advertising in newspapers, which was opposed by the administration and was later shelved in the House. Action on legislation to expand the Social Security System and a large number of measures to smooth the transition from war to peace was postponed to 1944.

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Wait… a min… Why did they exclude China in the first place?

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After bringing in many thousands of Chinese workers to complete the Central Pacific Railroad, to the astonishment of Californians, those workers stayed. The next economic downturn encouraged a lot of racist rhetoric that the Chinese workers were undercutting American workers, so they passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882.

I’m often puzzled at the weird dichotomy between official US attitudes to China and the explicit prejudice against individual Chinese people until this point in WW2. A cynic might point out that with a major war still ongoing, there was little risk of increased Chinese immigration to the US, so it was a political gesture only (that could still be revoked by a postwar US government).


What did they think was gonna happen? You get comfortable with a place you stay there (unless you are in the military). This one is on the US.

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