Tuesday, April 13, 1971 - 9:36am - 9:40am
Richard Nixon, George Lincoln
White House Telephone


President Nixon: Hello.

Operator: General Lincoln, Mr. President.1

President Nixon: Yes.

General George Lincoln: Yes, Mr. President.

President Nixon: I was going to ask about the Texas disaster thing. Did we get something done on that, or are we going to do something?

Lincoln: Yes, sir. I talked to the Secretary of Agriculture [Clifford M. Hardin] this morning about this.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Lincoln: And he is having a meeting right now, I think, of his people. I had a long meeting yesterday, principally with his people.

President Nixon: Right.

Lincoln: And I believe that he should make an agricultural disaster declaration immediately.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Lincoln: Which will make available their emergency grain program—

President Nixon: Yeah.

Lincoln: —and will also make available their FHA [Farmers Home Administration] loans.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Lincoln: And I also believe that he should press along on what these people are already doing, which is use their extension services in Texas, and probably in Colorado, to start . . . be a catalytic agent to get hay, which they say is in Colorado, moving to Texas.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Lincoln: I have on my desk to think about what I am going to send you.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Lincoln: I question very seriously that we should make a full disaster declaration. A full disaster declaration triggers everything in that law.

President Nixon: Mm-hmm.

Lincoln: It triggers unemployment compensation.

President Nixon: I see.

Lincoln: And the estimate is that we'd get 65,000 applications. I have that from the Department of Labor.

President Nixon: Right.

Lincoln: They wouldn't be able to distinguish whether they were due to the droughts or not.

President Nixon: Yeah . . . yeah.

Lincoln: We'd get all these workers down there in the South, the migratory workers, who—

President Nixon: Yeah.

Lincoln: —they want to migrate north.

President Nixon: Mm-hmm.

Lincoln: And so I have to determine—

President Nixon: Well, let me ask you to do this: I noticed the governor [unclear], why don't you have Hardin give the governor a call. And I think the main thing is swiftness, so that they don't build it up. He could give the governor a call and tell him we're . . . See what I mean?

Lincoln: I will, yes, sir.

President Nixon: OK.

Lincoln: And—

President Nixon: And get that done.

Lincoln: I'll get that done right away, and—

President Nixon: So that we get that much. I'll say we're doing this emergency, so forth and so on. And then the other thing I noticed is the small business type of thing. I just want to be sure that Texas is—they're really squealing down there.

Lincoln: Yes, sir, well, the—

President Nixon: The [unclear] economy's [unclear].

Lincoln: With an FHA declaration, that immediately triggers the SBA [Small Business Administration].

President Nixon: It does.

Lincoln: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: Well. Well, if you could—if—would you have—would you see that Hardin or you or somebody get to the governor on it? And the other one that I would inform would be [Senator John G.] Tower [R-Texas].

Lincoln: Yes, sir, sure.

President Nixon: Make sure Tower knows.

Lincoln: We're in touch from him.

President Nixon: Well, what I mean, so that he can— I'd tell Tower first, so that—and then, and then let the governor know. See what I mean?

Lincoln: Yes, sir. All right.

President Nixon: Or it might be better, as a matter of fact, just to give it the proper buildup, is to have—tell Tower and let him pass the word back. See what I mean? Let's make a little politics out of this. Tell John Tower, see what I mean?

Lincoln: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: And have Hardin give Tower a call and tell him what's available, and then Tower can make the release from here. Because it's mainly a political problem—it's a political problem. It's a disaster, too. Will you do that, please?

Lincoln: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: Swell.

Lincoln: I should make clear, sir, that our estimate of the situation is that this is not yet a disaster—

President Nixon: Right. I understand that, but—

Lincoln: —but it might be very tough in three or four weeks if they don't get hay moving.

President Nixon: And if they don't get some rain. But in any event, you tell—if you could have Hardin call Tower so that Tower could then say what we're going to do. Right?

Lincoln: I will arrange that, sir.

President Nixon: Get that done today.

Lincoln: I'll get that done right away.

President Nixon: Thanks.


1 General George A. Lincoln was director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness. (↑)

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