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Now again, may I say, Madam Chairman and members of the committee, we are delighted to have this opportunity to present the members of our committee and briefly, I should like to explain the functions of the committee and the program which they have developed and which is in accordance with the mandates adopted by our fortyseventh national encampment.

As you know, in common with many other organizations, the delegates from our local posts all over the United States meet once each year in national encampment, as we call it. Some call it convention. At those encampments, resolutions are considered which have been developed in the local posts or in the state departments and the delegates and officers of the national encampment consider those resolutions and approve or disapprove of them, and determine the program of the organization from that point. The resolutions are then referred to the national legislative committee. The committee goes over these resolutions, attempts to determine which resolutions will do the greatest good for the greatest number and attempt to schedule a program giving a top priority to certain types of resolution and secondary importance to other resolutions, and to present our program in that manner.

I think most of you know that in common with other organizations, we adopt a very wide and comprehensive legislative program, and although we know it is impossible to accomplish the entire program, we do the best we can with it, but we do try to put greater emphasis upon those things which we think come first.

The CHAIRMAN. You are giving top priority to veterans' housing for instance?

Mr. KETCHUM. That is right. The legislative committee in an early meeting following the 1947 encampment have gone over the resolutions and they came to the conclusion there are certain problems that are of vital importance to the veterans.

This committee, in considering the resolutions adopted in 1947 has established a priority list by subject matters of prime importance to the veterans of this Nation.

First is the question of national security. That occupies one of the top positions in our priority program. We recognize, of course, that this committee does not consider matters that largely pertain to national security, but I would be remiss in my duty if I did not mention that we have placed the national security program as one of the top problems to be considered in connection with our Nation.

For example, we are committed to universal military training. We have supported a bill which has been reported out, H. R. 4278. We believe universal military training should be adopted by Congress. We think it should be enacted in the second session of the Eightieth Congress. We think the situation in the world today and the bold game we are attempting to play in international diplomacy requires a strong hand to support a bold game, and while we do not contend that universal military training is the only answer, the total answer to national security, it is one of the important stones in the foundation of a well-balanced national security and, of course, we are pleading with the Congress to take action on H. R. 4278 to provide for universal military training.

Then too, we believe air power is one of the most important things facing this Nation when we consider possible enemies in the world today and the distances. So, the Veterans of Foreign Wars is calling upon the Congress and the American people to retrieve our supremacy in this direction and the creation, in being, of the most powerful air force in the world, and a replacement program of 6,000 planes a year with an adequate appropriation for the Air Forces. We have caused to be introduced a bill, H. R. 4527, which would, if enacted, bring back air supremacy to the United States and give a 6,000 plane replacement program a year and enable us to have seventy groups of fighting planes which the Air Forces have declared to be the minimum which we require.

There are several other points on national security with which I shall not attempt to take up your time.

Moving from national security to housing of veterans. I believe housing constitutes probably the No. 1 headache and problem facing the majority of veterans of World War II.

Again I say that this committee, the jurisdiction of this committee, has not been largely devoted to the housing problem. Although we know there has been some housing legislation brought before this committee, largely the problem has been considered by the Banking and Currency Committee and other committees, but members of this committee are vitally concerned and, I think, every officer and official in our organization will agree housing is the No. 1 headache we have been confronted with in the past 2 years. We, like everybody else, are desperately seeking a solution and yet we seem as far from a solution as we were 2 years ago. There are many fine-spun plans that have been offered to the Congress and to the administration. There is much talk about extending credit facilities at lower rates of interest, but when you get right down to it, I think we must realize the fundamental problem is getting together building materials and craftsmen, and with the present price of building materials and the present cost of labor, frankly, I don't know how expanding credit facilities is going to improve the situation and get more housing at less cost. It will, perhaps, provide some advantages for veterans, but nevertheless, housing has been one of the most acute problems. We have some definite resolutions on the subject. We have a program definitely related to liberalizing credit, but frankly I don't know whether we are going to get very far with that.

We are supporting what is known as the TEW bill (S. 866). It is the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill. It used to be the Wagner-EllenderTaft bill, and called the WET bill.

We are committed to the support of that bill by our national convention. We believe there are many features in S. 866, the TaftEllender-Wagner bill, which would help the housing situation.

In the House, the companion bill is H. R. 2533, introduced by Representative Javits.

Now, in addition to the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill we have several other items having to do with the liberalization of credit. If necessary, to give the Reconstruction Finance Corporation the authority to make direct loans to veterans, long term, 30 or 40 years, at a low rate of interest. While that gives encouragement to the veteran, permitting him to invest less money and a longer opportunity in which to pay, you are still confronted with high construction costs. You are still confronted with scarcity of material and craftsmen.

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I don't think any of these plans are going to actually get more housing at a lower cost. It may make it easier for the veteran to get a house by reduced payments and spreading them out over a long period of time, giving him more encouragement and incentive, but the problem is, as I see it, getting building material and craftsmen together and obtaining them at a lower cost.

Now, whether that can be done in the free-enterprise-postwar system of approach, I don't know. It may be one of those thrings we are going to have to worry out until it whips itself.

I know we have not been able to say “this is the answer” or “this will do it.” You can get more liberal financing, broader credit, lower rates of interest, but that still isn't going to reduce the cost of housing. You still have the problem of building material and high labor costs involved.

I understand the builders claimed last year, 1947, they produced almost as many homes as in the peak of 1925. They expect to exceed that in 1948.

We have come to one conclusion, and I think I should mention that. We believe the answer is not necessarily in the construction of individual family units. We don't think it is possible to get those individual family units down to a price the average veteran can afford to pay, or, if he does, he has to face the prospect of indebtedness hanging over him for a long period of time and might eventually lose the equity in the home.

We think one of the answers is the construction of large multiple low-rental units in which veterans would have preference in renting.

Whether you can encourage the large investors in the country, such as the big insurance companies, to put their money into lowcost rental units I don't know. but we think there are some things the Congress can do to encourage the big investors to put their money into the large low-rental units and we have some data here

Mr. ALLEN. Mr. Ketchum, may I interrupt?
The CHAIRMAN. Is the gentleman willing to yield?
Mr. KETCHUM. Certainly.

Mr. Allen. When you get down to particular cases, I wish you would tell some of us country boys how to get housing for John Rankin's folks and my folks out in the country, because the big insurance companies are not going out into the country.

Mr. KETCHUM. I'm not prepared to answer that now.

Mr. ALLEN. I know of a recent case where a veteran built a home which might have been built in normal times for $3,500, but when it was built it was $10,400 and still going.

Mr. KETCHUM. Yes, I know.
Mr. KEARNEY. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. ALLEN. Yes. I have the floor.

Mr. KEARNEY. I would just like to suggest in the momentary absence of the chairman, the suggestion the gentleman made be complied with. Let him finish his statement before questioning.

Mr. ALLEN. Certainly.

Mr. KETCHUM. Thank you. You realize that on any one of these subjects we could consume a whole day.

Another problem with which we are vitally concerned and in which this committee is also vitally concerned and which this committee has done something about, is the problem of education and training. We want to stress the need of increasing the subsistence allowances to veterans who have been encouraged and promised education by a previous Congress under the so-called GI bill of rights.

We think that is something this Congress should take action on at this session. The Veterans Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare has also done a good job and we think Congress should follow through and take the advice of these two committees and take final action on it.

As you know, there is pending now before the House two bills, one which came out of this committee and one which has already been approved by the Senate, which would increase subsistence allowances payable to GI students taking academic training. S. 1394 and H. R. 4212 would increase subsistence allowances. S. 1394 has already passed the Senate. H.R. 4212 has been reported out of this committee and is pending before the House. Both of those bills would increase the present subsistence allowances to $75 and $125.

Certainly our organization is going to insist that Congress take action on either one of these two bills.

Mr. RANKIN. Are they identical?
Mr. KETCHUM. They are identical. One came out of the Senate.

The Chairman. If the House passed the bill immediately, you could get the money for the second semester?

Mr. KETCHUM. That's right. Then we have the problem of the veteran taking on-the-job training. We want to stress the need for increasing the wage ceilings for veterans who have been encouraged by a previous Congress under the so-called GI bill of rights. We think that is also something this Congress should take action on this session. We think if we are going to make good what Congress promised them we ought to at least allow them enough to keep those boys in training, or in school.

A bill has been approved by the Senate and come over to the House, S. 1393, which would increase the present ceilings to $200 and $250, and this committee, which took the first action on that problem, considered and reported out H. R. 246 by Mr. Kearney, Incidentally, I should have mentioned a few moments ago that the Veterans of Foreign Wars is very proud of Representative Pat Kearney as past commander in chief of our organization and we are delighted to have him here.

I think H. R. 246 was one of the early bills reported out.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman is correct.

Mr. KETCHUM. You know the history of H. R. 246. It has been pinned down in the Rules Committee for a long time. It was reported out on February 26. I believe the House ought to take action on one or the other of these bills at once and naturally we would prefer H. R. 246. If the House don't want that, at least they should take action on S. 1394, which has been approved by the Senate.

If we don't get anything else, Madam Chairman, out of this session of Congress, we certainly think the House ought to complete action on those two matters which are so important to a large number of the veterans.

It is useless for me to tell you of the problems facing veterans going to school or taking training. You are receiving letters from all over the country. You receive scores of them and petitions pointing out the difficulties facing these veterans.

Moving from that, we come to the important question of employment. Some may say we don't have any employment problem today, that anybody who wants to work can find a job, but it is still true there are a lot of veterans who don't have satisfactory employment. Many of them have jobs. That is true, but I think a survey will show that the average income of the majority of veterans is less than $2,400, approximately $50 a week or less and you can appreciate what they are up against with our present high cost of living.

So, the Veterans of Foreign Wars is trying to do something about that. We are asking the Congress to give consideration to a bill which we believe will do much to provide employment not only to veterans, but to expand our national economy, so to meet our commitments to European countries, so to continue our high standard of living, through the adoption of what we call the the Veterans' Economic Development Corporation Act (S. 1652 and H. R. 157).

That bill has been introduced in the House by seven Members, including at least two members of this committee—the chairman and Congressman Kearney.

Mr. MITCHELL. Would you repeat the name?

Mr. KETCHUM. Veterans' Economic Development Corporation Act. The one that we have been stressing is H. R. 157, although several other Members have introduced the same bill, and over in the Senate the bill has been introduced by 19 Members of the Senate as a bipartisan measure and it is identified as S. 1652.

We believe that bill is very important to the future of this country and to business opportunities and employment for veterans and I wish each of you would have an opportunity to study the bill and its ramifications.

I will not devote any more time except to say there are so many things that should be done for every veteran.

In connection with veterans preference, there are many bills, but they are not before this committee.

I want to tell you that the Veterans Preference Act as it exists today in the civil service is scarcely more than a snare and delusion owing to a few words in the act which says that “a veteran shall not be demoted, terminated, or furloughed, except for such causes as will promote the efficiency of the service." Unsympathetic and hostile supervisors and administrators in the Federal Government are using that phrase to nullify and defeat the clear intent and purpose of veterans preference and practically all of the appeal cases we are fighting today from all over the country, by the hundreds, are due to a misinterpretation of that phrase "to promote the efficiency of the service. The way it is now interpreted if an agency arbitrarily determined that a nonveteran is more efficient than a veteran, it then can demote the veteran and retain the nonveteran because that would be increasing efficiency. It means that in every instance the veteran must be better qualified than the nonveteran. If that is true, there is no need for veteran preference. Theoretically he would have the advantage because he is better qualified than the nonveteran. Consequently, preference means little.

The CHAIRMAN. You are going to make a presentation of that to the proper committee?

Mr. Ř ETCHUM. That is right. We are working constantly on that with the Civil Service Committee.

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