Tuesday, August 18, 1964 - 6:35pm - 6:39pm
Lyndon Johnson, Dean Rusk, George Ball

Secretary of State Dean Rusk was meeting with Deputy Secretary of State George Ball at the time of this call.

The conversation has already begun when the recording starts. President Johnson is on the speakerphone.

Dean Rusk: [Unclear] down there, including us, of course.

President Johnson: Who's your man for Congress now?

Rusk: Bob Lee is the, is heading up our office, for the a--taking [former Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs] Fred Dutton's place temporarily.

President Johnson: Well, they sure ought to get on this, because this is is uncalled for and oughtn't to have happened there. Larry [O'Brien] wasn't paying any attention to it. He [unclear] the State Department. So it would be a lot harder now since they oppose and then we've got the--

Rusk: Yes.

President Johnson: I'd just make a rule over there: no piece of State Department legislation comes up until your man calls it and knows where it is.

Rusk: Right.

President Johnson: Anything's important, and it's better to always anticipate than hindsight it.

Rusk: All right, sir. Well, we'll check--we're meeting in the morning on all the other bits of legislation we have to be sure this doesn't happen to us again.

President Johnson: What can I say about Cyprus tonight? What's happened there?

Rusk: Let me just put George Ball on for a second. He's just come in from a talk with [Former Secretary of State] Dean Acheson.1.

George Ball: Yes, Mr. President?

President Johnson: Whats the story on Cyprus tonight?

Approximately 1 minute 10 seconds excised by the National Archives and Records Administration as classified information.

President Johnson: Right. Anything on meat today?2

Ball: No, well it--the bill passed the House, you know, with a good vote and its--went--was sent over to Senate this afternoon, and I guess the Senate won't get to it until tomorrow. But everyone seems to be quite pleased, and I think it's one of those things were we're going to come out really very well. The Australians and New Zealanders were tickled to death when I talked to them last night.3.

President Johnson: OK. Anything else I need to know about?

Ball: I don't think so, Mr. President.

President Johnson: What was the vote on the meat thing?

Ball: It was 232 to 149.

President Johnson: Who opposed it? Consumers?

Ball: Consumers, a lot of people actually that we had ourselves forgotten to do it. The internationally packing company, which is [unclear] & Company, which has the big packing operations in Argentina and also in Australia, and they kind of spear-headed the thing. And then we worked with the consumer groups and so on. So we had to call them off but we couldn't call them all off. So it--but it went through comfortably, and I think the general feeling on the Hill is that it, that this was an operation that came off pretty well.

President Johnson: OK, much obliged.

Ball: Thank you Mr. President.

  • 1. Dean Acheson served as Presidential mediator for Cyprus from June-September 1964
  • 2. Earlier in the month, protectionist legislation that had originated in the Senate and been substituted into an old House bill on the importation of wildlife had been drafted that would restrict by about one third imports of beef, veal, mutton, and lamb so as to protect American producers. The administration had opposed the proposed measure on the grounds that it would unduly harm relations with several key allies and would undermine efforts to coax concessions from the Common Market on similar issues then being negotiated. Consumer groups argued that it would increase meat prices. On 18 August 1964 the House and Senate both passed a compromise bill that diluted somewhat the original proposal. The State Department backed the compromise bill but had come under criticism for interfering with the debate. "Meat Import Bill Sent to Johnson, " New York Times, 19 August 196; "Meat Bill Set for Conference," New York Times, 6 August 1964; "Action by Congress on Beef-Import Problem This Session Is Growing Increasingly Likely," 6 August 1964; "Canada-US Rift on Trade Looms," New York Times, 10 August 1964; "Compromise on Meat Imports Will Be Attempted by Conferees," 12 August 1964.
  • 3. A large percentage of the imported meats came from Australia and New Zealand. Both nations agreed to voluntary quotas on their meat exports. New York Times, "Compromise on Beef," 19 August 1964.

Original tape courtesy of LBJ Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.