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Case‐Church Amendment

Case‐Church Amendment (1973).The signing of the Paris Peace Agreement in January 1973 brought a final withdrawal of American military forces from Vietnam following the Vietnam War. Many believed, however, that the peace agreement only marked a temporary respite in the fighting. The question was what would the administration of President Richard M. Nixon do once the inevitable renewal of hostilities between the North and South Vietnamese forces began? In order to prevent a re introduction of United States forces into the conflict, Senators Clifford Case (R‐NJ) and Frank Church (D‐ID) introduced on 26 January 1973 a bill that barred any future use of American forces in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia without the authorization of the Congress. The inclusion of Cambodia was crucial because the Paris agreement did not cover the continued fighting there, and American air power continued to be employed in bombing the Khmer Rouge.

The Senate passed the amendment for the first time on 14 June. While awaiting action in the House of Representatives, Nixon vetoed separate legislation that would have ended the bombing in Cambodia. Finally, a modified Case‐Church amendment was passed by the Senate on 29 June by a 63–26 vote. It allowed the bombing in Cambodia to continue until 15 August. After that date, all use of the American military was prohibited in Southeast Asia unless the president secured Congressional approval in advance. The proponents of the ban did not know that Nixon had, in fact, secretly promised South Vietnam's president Nguyen Van Thieu that the United States would resume bombing in North and South Vietnam if he determined it necessary to enforce the peace settlement. The Case‐Church amendment, therefore, marked the final end to direct American military involvement in Southeast Asia.

Bibliography

LeRoy Ashby and and Rod Gramer , Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church, 1994.

David F. Schmitz

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