House Beats Anti-nasser Measure After Administration Pressure
Menu JTA Search

House Beats Anti-nasser Measure After Administration Pressure

Download PDF for this date

A last-minute appeal by Secretary of State Dean Rusk and other factors today combined to defeat an amendment to the foreign aid bill pending in the House of Representatives, which would have forced mandatory severance of further “food for peace” assistance to Egypt.

Defeat for the drive came with adoption of a compromise measure, a substitute amendment offered by Rep. James Roosevelt, California Democrat, with Administration support. The Roosevelt substitute won by a teller vote of 117 to 113.

The original amendment was proposed by Rep. Oliver Bolton, Ohio Republican, who felt the time had come to cut off further American surplus commodities to the Nasser regime, because of Nasser’s actions undermining regional peace and stability. However, Secretary Rusk said in a letter to Congress that it would be “unfortunate” if the amendment were adopted. He said that the national security of the United States would suffer if the President’s discretionary authority were restricted.

The Roosevelt substitute, as adopted, called on the President to make a determination that any nation receiving PL-480 “food for peace” aid was not an aggressor in a military sense against any country having diplomatic relations with the United States, and does not use any funds obtained from the United States for purposes inimical to the United States foreign policy. It did not specifically name Egypt.

Rep. Roosevelt said the advantage of the substitute was that it “does not single out or name any nation” and would not “tie the hands of the President. ” Later, he explained privately that he prepared his substitute after the Secretary of State’s appeal and because he feared the Bolton anti-Nasser move would be eliminated in the coming, joint House-Senate conference on the bill, because it went too far. He thought his own anti-aggression clause would be retained, and serve as the best available restraint of Nasser under the circumstances.


Representatives Leonard Farbstein, Benjamin S. Rosenthal, and William Fitts Ryan–all New York Democrats–argued against the Roosevelt substitute. They contended that Nasser had gotten away with too much and that the only effective move was a mandatory aid severance measure like the Bolton amendment.

Rep. Farbstein argued in the House that the Roosevelt measure was no different from a provision in last year’s foreign aid bill, which the State Department has failed to implement. He said that Nasser has been guilty of many abuses and threats to peace, but nothing had been done to end American aid.

Rep. Rosenthal, opposing the Roosevelt move, said that “by no torturing of language can the United Arab Republic be called a friendly nation. ” Rep. H.R. Gross, Iowa Republican, said the Roosevelt substitute was “virtually meaningless.” He said that, if any sanctions at all were to be applied to Nasser, the substitute had to be defeated. Rep. Ryan said there was no evidence that the State Department did anything to implement previous anti-aggression clauses affecting Nasser.

Rep. Charles Joelson, New Jersey Democrat, took a leading role in the fight against the Bolton amendment.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund