Senate will debate aid bill Monday (2-15-41)

Reading Eagle (February 15, 1941)

Defense chiefs studying 4-point program for ‘all-out’ assistance
Foes will seek to ban use of U.S. ships for convoy purposes
Washington, Feb. 15 (UP) –
National defense chieftains today studies a tentative four-point program for speedy “all-out” aid to Great Britain, while administration legislative leaders drove for final Congressional action within three weeks on the historic lend-lease bill.

Authoritative military sources disclosed that the contemplated aid program envisions maximum shipments of American war supplies to Britain without disruption of this country’s own $28,000,000,000 rearmament drive. They emphasized that the plan is still in the “study” stage, and that many details must be worked out.

Meanwhile, authoritative Senate sources predicted that Mr. Roosevelt will ask Congress for appropriations and contract authorizations amounting to between $1,000,000,000 and $1,500,000,000 as soon as the aid bill is finally approved.

The Senate is slated to start debate on the debate on the epochal bill Monday. Chairman Walter F. George (D-GA) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is to speak first in support, with Sen. Bennett C. Clark (D-MO) scheduled to make the first opposition speech. Debate is expected to last ten days or two weeks.

Foes plan meeting

Opposition Senators tentatively planned to meet today for a last-minute discussion of strategy. Seventeen of them met secretly yesterday and agreed to concentrate their drive on two proposed amendments to ban use of U.S. Naval vessels for convoying and to prohibit the President from disposing of any part of the fleet.

The latter proposal is to be sponsored by Chairman David I. Walsh (D-MA) of the Senate Naval Affairs Committee. The first public indication that he opposes the bill came when he attended yesterday’s opposition meeting.

Major points in the all-out aid plan now under study were said to be:

  1. A survey of so-called “critical” military items – airplanes, guns, tanks, ships and munitions – which can be made available immediately out of existing Army and Navy supplies. It was indicated these would be modern armaments, rather than “obsolete” or “surplus” supplies such as were sold to the Allies in the past.

  2. Making available to Britain deliveries of materials originally ordered by U.S. forces but urgently needed by the British.

  3. Steps to speed production and delivery dates on the $3,000,000,000 worth of British orders.

  4. Creating new production facilities for both domestic and British requirements as a “long-range” supply line.

Asks clarification

Sen. Charles W. Tobey (R-NH) called on Mr. Roosevelt to make a “candid statement” of his intentions regarding future disposition of the Navy. He specifically asked the President to clarify the impasse that apparently has resulted from public expression of divergent views by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and Wendell L. Willkie on the number of destroyers available for Britain.

Willkie recommended to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that five to ten destroyers a month be sent. Knox promptly asserted that no destroyers could safely be taken from the Navy. Willkie replied that a high authority – presumably the President had assured him that some were available. White House Secretary Stephen T. Early declared that no dispute exists.

In a telegram to the President, Tobey said the people:

….are becoming divided by these conflicting statements of Mr. Willkie and Mr. Knox.

…are urged that:

….in the interest of national unity as well as the interest of our national security (the President) make clear to the people and to the Congress your intentions in the matter.

Democratic Senate leaders prepared to write a further concession into the lend-lease bill in an effort to win additional Republican votes. It would provide that aid could be sent only to countries threatened with aggression or already resisting aggression.

Because of the rapid shift of international events, they were not willing to accept Willkie;’s recommendation that the countries should be specifically named. As now written, the b ill would permit aid to any country whose defense the President considers vital to the country’s defense.

Two Republicans – Under-Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson and William D. Mitchell, Attorney General under President Hoover – urged enactment of the bill last night.

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