What was the Case-Church Amendment (1973)?

Introduction

The Case-Church Amendment was legislation attached to a bill funding the US State Department. It was approved by the US Congress in June 1973 that prohibited further US military activity in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia unless the president secured Congressional approval in advance.

Refer to Cooper-Church Amendment and McGovern-Hatfield Amendment.

Background

This ended direct US military involvement in the Vietnam War, although the US continued to provide military equipment and economic support to the South Vietnamese government.

It is named for its principal co-sponsors, Senators Clifford P. Case (R-NJ) and Frank Church (D-ID). The Amendment was defeated 48 to 42 in the US Senate in August 1972, but revived after the 1972 election. It was reintroduced on 26 January 1973 and approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 13 May.

When it became apparent that the Amendment would pass, President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, lobbied frantically to have the deadline extended. However, under pressure from the extreme scrutiny of Watergate, Republicans relented on support for South Vietnam and the amendment passed the United States Congress in June 1973 by a margin of 325 to 86 in the House, 73 to 16 in the Senate. Both of these margins for the amendment’s passage were greater than the two-thirds majority required to override a presidential veto, and Nixon signed it on 01 July 1973.

Although US forces had been withdrawn from South Vietnam in March 1973 pursuant to the Paris Peace Accords, air support and monetary support for Cambodia and Laos continued until 15 August 1973, the deadline set by the Amendment.

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