My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Monday—The action of the House Appropriations Committee in cutting the budget of the State Department for foreign contributions is something everyone of us should consider carefully. If we feel strongly about it, I think we should let our representatives know how we feel, since the Senate will shortly take action and there may be some chance to restore some of the cuts.

The budget submitted to the House of Representatives by the State Department contained a request for $30,684,476 for the purpose of meeting the legal obligations of the United States to the United Nations and other international organizations. Subsequent changes in requirements made it possible for the Department of State to make a reduction in its original estimate and it voluntarily asked for $30,297,861 which was all that was required.

On July 24, the House reduced this amount by $3,297,861 and authorized $27,000,000. In addition, the House voted on July 25 to further restrict the United States payments to any of these international organizations to 33 1/3 percent of the annual cost thereof. It should be noted that there are organizations in which our country has borne a heavier percentage than other nations—in some cases a very much heavier percentage—but an agreement has been reached that in 1952, which is only one year off, the U.S. subscription would be reduced to 33 1/3 percent in many instances.

This action of the House will mean that to the United Nations itself we will be in default by quite a large sum, and in lesser amounts we will be in default to nine other international organizations, including the Pan American Union, UNESCO, World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization.

Of course, the Soviets will say, in effect, that, for all the assurances given by the State Department, they can never count on the United States. They will point to our Congress as being at odds with the State Department and try to show that it is evident the United States never did have any interest in the U.N. or in making any international organization work. They will say that they, in the Soviet Union, have been so much more honest. They will claim they have stayed out of organizations where they felt they were unable to pay their share, but wherever they had an obligation, they have done all they possibly could to fulfill the obligation. It will sound so virtuous on their part and we will be made to appear dishonorable and selfish.

I realize fully what it means in sacrifice to every American family to accept the international obligations which are ours today. But I cannot believe that our people want to put themselves in a position where they do not keep their word for one more year.

The word given has to be given by responsible people on the administrative side of the government, and, of course, the Congress has to back up that word. It can quite rightly, I think, advise the administrative part of the government that it should not undertake to contribute more than a certain percentage in a future year. But not to come through with promises made seems to me harmful to our position not only as economic leaders but even as military leaders.

Our government is one government in the eyes of the world, not two. And the division between legislative and administrative does not mean much to other parts of the world. Other people will think of us as a government that has kept its word or gone back on it. Therefore, I hope the Senate will take a more statesmanlike view than has the House.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL