February 25

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Feb 25, 1971:

Congress moves to block widening of the war

In both houses of Congress, legislation is initiated to forbid U.S. military support of any South Vietnamese invasion of North Vietnam without congressional approval. This legislation was a result of the controversy that arose after the invasion of Laos by South Vietnamese forces in Operation Lam Son 719. On February 8, South Vietnamese forces had launched a major cross-border operation into Laos to interdict the Ho Chi Minh Trail and destroy the North Vietnamese supply dumps in the area.

Although the only direct U.S. support permitted was long-range cross-border artillery fire from firebases in South Vietnam, fixed-wind air strikes, and 2,600 helicopters to airlift Saigon troops and supplies, President Richard Nixon's critics condemned the invasion. Foreign Relations Committee chairman Senator J. William Fulbright (D-Arkansas) declared the Laotian invasion illegal under the terms of the repeal of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which allowed the president only the mandate to end the war.

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