This famous law gave President Franklin Roosevelt the authority to aid Great Britain with ships and other war materials in its war with Nazi Germany in 1941. The U.S. did not join the war until December of that year.
Be it enacted That this Act may be cited as "An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States."
Section 3. (a) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, the President may, from time to time, when he deems it in the interest of national defense, authorize the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, or the head of any other department or agency of the Government (1) To manufacture in arsenals, factories, and shipyards under their jurisdiction, or otherwise procure, to the extent to which funds are made available therefor[e], or contracts are authorized from time to time by the Congress, or both, any defense article for the government of any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States. (2) To sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of, to any such government any defense article, but no defense article not manufactured or procured under paragraph (1) shall in any way be disposed of under this paragraph, except after consultation with the Chief of Staff of the Army or the Chief of Naval Operations of the Navy, or both. The value of defense articles disposed of in any way under authority of this paragraph, and procured from funds heretofore appropriated, shall not exceed $1,300,000,000. The value of such defense articles shall be determined by the head of the department or agency concerned or such other department, agency or officer as shall be designated in the manner provided in the rules and regulations issued hereunder. Defense articles procured from funds hereafter appropriated to any department or agency of the Government, other than from funds authorized to be appropriated under this Act, shall not be disposed of in any way under authority of this paragraph except to the extent hereafter authorized by the Congress in the Acts appropriating such funds or otherwise. (3) To test, inspect, prove, repair, outfit, recondition, or otherwise to place in good working order, to the extent to which funds are made available therefor, or contracts are authorized from time to time by the Congress, or both, any defense article for any such government, or to procure any or all such services by private contract. (4) To communicate to any such government any defense information, pertaining to any defense article furnished to such government under paragraph (2) of this subsection. (5) To release for export any defense article disposed of in any way under this subsection to any such government. (b) The terms and conditions upon which any such foreign government receive any aid authorized under subsection (a) shall be those which the President deems satisfactory, and the benefit tot the United States may be payment or repayment in kind or property, or any other direct or indirect benefit which the President deems satisfactory. (c) After June 30, 1943, or after the passage of a concurrent resolution by the two Houses before June 30, 1943, which declares that the powers conferred by or pursuant to subsection (a) are no longer necessary to promote the defense of the United States, neither the President nor the head of any department or agency shall exercise any of the powers conferred by or pursuant to subsection (a); except that until July 1, 1946, any of such powers may be exercised to the extent necessary to carry out a contract or agreement with such a foreign government made before July 1, 1943, or before the passage of such concurrent resolution, whichever is the earlier. (d) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or to permit the authorization of convoying vessels by naval vessels of the United States. (e) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or to permit the authorization of the entry of any American vessel into a combat area in violation of section 3 of the Neutrality Act of 1939.
Section 8 The Secretaries of War and of the Navy are hereby authorized to purchase or otherwise acquire arms, ammunition, and implements of war produced within the jurisdiction of any country to which section 3 is applicable, whenever the President deems such purchase or acquisition to be necessary in the interests of the defense of the United States.
Section 9 The President may, from time to time, promulgate such rules
and regulations as may be necessary and proper to carry out any of the provisions
of this Act; and he may exercise any power or authority conferred on him
by this Act through such department, agency, or officer as he shall direct.