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LBJ Asks Congress for More Viet Aid

May 18, 1964 - President Johnson asked Congress today to provide an extra $125 million in economic and military aid for the war against the Communist Viet Cong guerrillas in South Vietnam.

This would be in addition to the appropriation of about $500 million already sought by the Administration for programs in Vietnam during the fiscal year starting July 1.

Representative Thomas Morgan, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has been working on the Administration’s $3.4 billion foreign aid bill, said he was certain that Congress would provide the extra funds requested by the President.

The Pennsylvania Democrat said high officials would testify before the committee in closed session tomorrow on the request. These will include Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, and General Maxwell Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In his special message to Congress, Johnson said more funds were needed in South Vietnam because of two developments that had taken place since his 1965 foreign aid request was prepared in January. These, he said, were the following:

“First, the Viet Cong, under orders from their Communist masters in the North, have intensified terrorist actions against the peaceful people of South Vietnam. This increased terrorism requires increased response.

“Second, a new Government under Prime Minister Nguyen Khanh has come to power, bringing new energy and leadership and new hope for effective action. I share with Ambassador [Henry Cabot] Lodge the conviction that this new Government can mount a successful campaign against the Communists.”

“The vigorous decisions taken by the new Government of Vietnam to mobilize the full resources of the country merit our strongest support,” Johnson said. “By our words and deeds, in a decade of determined effort, we are pledged before all the world to stand with the free people of Vietnam.”

Representative William Broomfield (R-Mich.) said he would back the President’s request, “but I still think his figure is too low.” He said he would press for an extra $250 million in military aid for Saigon.

Senator Wayne Morse (D-Ore.) spoke against the President’s proposal and was supported by Senator Ernest Gruening (D-Ak.). Morse called the war in South Vietnam “completely illegal.”

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