Congress and the Making of US Security Policies

  • William Bader
Part of the International Institute for Strategic Studies conference papers book series (IISSCP)


‘ Last night we did the dirty deed. We assassinated liberty under the pretext of aiding a belligerent in the war’. Thus was the crusty and embittered ‘ High priest of isolationism’, Senator Hiram Johnson’ s welcome of the passage of H. R. 1776, the ‘ Lend-Lease’ Bill which vested the President with sweeping powers to make or procure any defense article for the government of any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States and to transfer any such article to any such government. The bruising Congressional battle of February and March 1941 which brought forth the Lend-Lease package was more rationally and certainly prophetically described by Senator Arthur Vandenberg:

Unfortunately our national course is rather definitely established by the passage of H. R. 1776 and from now on we shall be very much at the mercy of unfolding events. Of course these events can be tremendously affected by the decision of the President under broad discretionary powers which are now vested in the White House. But Congress itself will have very little more to say about these decisions… in a word, we now find ourselves in the precarious position of trying to stop ourselves half-way down Niagara Falls.


Foreign Policy National Security Military Spending Much Favour Nation Authorization Process 
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  1. 1.
    See Robert L. Bledsoe and Roger Handbert, ‘Changing Times: Congress and Defense’ in Armed Forces and Society, Vol. 6, Spring 1980, pp. 415–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. R. L. Bledsoe, ‘Congress and Defense: The Role of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee’, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southwest Political Science Association, Dallas, Texas, March 1981Google Scholar
  3. Edward J. Laurance, ‘The Changing Role of Congress in Defense Policy-Making’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 20, No. 2, June 1976.Google Scholar

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© The International Institute for Strategic Studies 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Bader

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