Political Science ETDs

Publication Date



A study of the role of Congress in the formulation of foreign policy, using the case study approach. The policy decision selected for study is the Yugoslav Emergency Relief Assistance Act of 1950, the first postwar aid to Yugoslavia that required congressional approval. The study has three purposes:

l. To determine the role of Congress in the total policy process that culminated in the passage of the aid bill.

2. To study the internal processes of Congress in foreign policy-making.

3. To examine the conditions under which Congress approved the extension of aid to a Communist nation.

The study used as its major source public records, supplemented b memoirs, journals, new media, and such other hearings and reports, and the Congressional Record, are the chief sources of information. The techniques of content analysis were applied to the records of the hearings and debates in an attempt to determine the relative importance of the various internal processes.

The study begins with a chronological history of the Yugoslav aid bill and of the events leading up to its introduction. This is followed by separate chapters devoted to Senate, House, and conference committee action.

Congress' role in the policy process, in the case of the Yugoslav aid bill, was limited to the legitimation and amending of a policy already initiated by the Executive. Its major source of strength, in the contest with the Executive, was the power of the purse. This forced the Executive to shape policy with an eye to probable congressional reaction and to accept restrictions on policy inserted during the legislative process. The crisis in Korea, and Executive action in extending stopgap aid to Yugoslavia before going to Congress for funds, also helped the Executive retain the initiative. In a time of crisis, Congress is more likely to approve an unpopular measure if the Executive says it is essential to national security.

Congress amended the aid bill in a number of ways. Through the use of amendments, Congress retained a greater measure of control over the aid program than was desired by the Executive. In the Senate, Foreign Relations Committee approval was the key to passage of the bill. With bipartisan support from the committee, opposition was minimized and deprived of its most effective spokesmen. Floor managers were able to defeat all unfavorable amendments and to keep debate on a relatively calm level. In the House of Representatives, the divided character of the Foreign Affairs Committee determined the character of the body’s consideration of the aid bill. It resulted in more heated floor debate, extensive attempts to alter the bill by amendment, and greater than normal participation in the debate.

Aid to a Communist country in the postwar era was a new experience for Congress. Its approval can be attributed to the circumstances of the time and to the Executive’s skillful management of the issue. In obtaining approval, the Executive somewhat committed the United States before requesting congressional action. It was careful to remove many possible sources of objection before involving Congress. By explaining aid in terms of American self-interest in a time of international crisis, the Executive was able to obtain approval despite many legislators’ objections to communism.

Degree Name

Political Science

Level of Degree


First Committee Member (Chair)

Edwin Chase Hoyt

Second Committee Member

Tommie Phillip Wolf

Third Committee Member

Harvey P. Stumpf



Document Type