Academic and political pressure for the repeal of the National Defense Education Act's disclaimer affidavit seems to be increasing. Several recent developments have considerably heightened chances for its repeal by the next Congress, but difficulties still remain.
A month ago, Harvard and Yale simultaneously announced that they were withdrawing from the NDEA student loan program, pending removal of the affidavit. Then, at his press conference last week, President Eisenhower--although deploring the withdrawal of Harvard, Yale and other institutions--indicated that he understood their objections. He said that he favors repeal of the affidavit and retention only of the oath of allegiance.
Finally, last week-end, the Democratic Advisory Council included in its 1960 policy statement a plank advocating prompt repeal of the NDEA disclaimer affidavit.
Problems in House
Despite these developments, the bill for repeal--which was sent back to committee by the Senate last July--may face an uncertain future when Congress reconvenes next month. J. Peterson Elder, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, who administered the graduate fellowships under the NDEA last spring, says he is "hopeful about the Senate, but doubtful about the House." In his capacity as president of the Association of Graduate Schools, Elder has sent telegrams discussing the NDEA affidavit to Arthur S. Flemming, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, and to Senators Lyndon B. Johnson and Lister Hill, and Representative Carl Elliott.
Johnson Regarded As Key Man
Johnson, the majority leader of the Senate, voted for recommittal last July, but was silent during debate; he is regarded as the key man on this issue in the Senate. Elder and others feel that Johnson, with pressure on one side from the President and on the other side from the Democratic Advisory Council, may be ready to support repeal. If Johnson tries for the Democratic Presidential nomination, a definite stand against the NDEA affidavit might help him to win Northern liberal voters.
Hill and Elliott, both Alabamans, are chairmen of the Senate and House committees that brought the original National Defense Education Act to the floor in 1958. Both have been sympathetic to repeal. Hill's committee last year approved the Kennedy-Clark bill for repeal of the entire loyalty provision.
In the House, a bill for repeal, introduced last session by Rep. John V. Lindsay of New York, remains mired in a committee chaired by Rep. Graham Barden of North Carolina. Barden has sworn that he will never let the measure, or any similar one, reach the floor. Elder notes, however, that Elliott has shown Elder's letter urging repeal to Barden, so he feels that there may be some hope even in the House