« PreviousContinue »
You also failed to answer the second major question to my letters. The *appendix to the budget for fiscal year 1972" (page 398) directs a "major shift in emphasis by the Regional Medical Programs" which seems to us to be in direct conflict with Public Law 89—239 and subsequent amendments which states in part in Sec. 900 (c): "and to accomplish these ends without interfering with the pattern, or the methods of financing, of patient care or professional practice, or with the administration of hospitals ..." we request specific answers to these additional questions:
4. By whom was this “major shift in emphasis" authorized ? 5. What is the justification for this occasion ?
The Regional Advisory Group looks forward to receiving specific answers to the above questions. Sincerely,
R. R. MCBRYDE, M.D.,
Alabama Regional Medical Program.
DECEMBER 1, 1969. Hox. EDWARD L. MORGAN, Deputy Counsel to the President, The White House, Washington, D.C.
DEAR ED: Attached is a memorandum dealing with the authority of the President to impound funds appropriated for assistance to federally impacted schools. A memorandum dealing with other education programs is in preparation.
THOMAS E. KAUPER,
Office of Legal Counsel.
Re Presidential Authority to Impound Funds Appropriated for Assistance to
Federally Impacted Schools. You have asked us to consider whether the President may, by direction to the Commissioner of Education or to the Bureau of the Budget, impound or otherwise prevent the expenditure of funds appropriated by Congress to carry out the legislation for financial assistance to federally impacted schools, Act of September 30, 1950, as amended ("P.L. 874"), 20 U.S.C. 236 et seq., and Act of September 23, 1950, as amended ("P.L. 815"), 20 U.S.C. 631 et seq.
In July the House of Representatives, in adopting the Joelson Amendment to the Labor-HEW Appropriations bill, added approximately one billion dollars to the sum to be appropriated for various programs administered by the Office of Education. One of the largest increases was in the appropriation to carry out P.L. 874, which was raised to $585 million, nearly $400 million over the figure requested by the Administration and reported by the House Appropriations Committee. The appropriation for P.L. 815, on the other hand, is only $15,167,000, the same as that requested by the Administration.
The question arises whether, assuming that the appropriations carried in the Joelson Amendment are not significantly reduced by the Senate, the Administration is bound to spend the money appropriated. This memorandum considers the situation with respect to P.L. 874 and P.L. 815, particularly the former. In a subsequent memorandum we shall consider the situation with respect to certain of the other items in the Joelson Amendment.
P.L. 874 authorizes financial assistance for the maintenance and operation of local school districts in areas where school enrollments are affected by Federal activities. Payments are made to eligible school districts which provide free public education to children who live on Federal property with a parent employed on Federal property ( 3 (a)) and to children who either live
1 This memorandum does not consider title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. 20 U.S.C. 241a et seq., which, although enacted as title II of P.L. 874. is usually cited as a separate statute and is listed as a separate appropriation item in the Joelson Amendment.
on Federal property or live with a parent employed on Federal property (8 3 (b)); to those school districts having a substantial increase in school enrollment resulting from Federal contract activities with private companies (84); and to school districts when there has been a loss of tax base as a result of the acquisition of real property by the Federal Government (82). Where the State or local educational agency is unable to provide suitable free public education to children who live on Federal property, the Commissioner of Education is required to make arrangements for such education (8 6). Major disaster assistance is authorized for local educational agencies under section 7 of P.L. 874. It should be noted that the $585 million provided by the Joelson Amendment is for assistance "as authorized by sections 3, 6, and 7" of P.L. 874. Consequently, no funding is provided for sections 2 and 4, and these sections need not concern us further.
Section 3 of P.L. 874 requires the Commissioner to compute the "entitlement" of a local educational agency under a formula, whereby simply stated, the number of category A children and one-half the category B children ? is multiplied by the local contribution rate for the school district as determined under section 3(d). The determination of entitlement is not entirely mechanical, for within fairly narrow limits the Commissioner has discretion in selecting the basis for his determination of the local contribution rate, and other provisions permit him to make favorable adjustments in entitlements under narrowly defined circumstances (88 3(c) (2), 3(c) (4), 3(e), 5(d) (1)).
Once a district's section 3 entitlement has been determined, however, the process of making payments becomes mechanical. Section 5(b) of P.L. 874 provides:
* (b) The Commissioner shall * * * from time to time pay to each local educational agency, in advance or otherwise, the amount which he estimates such agency is entitled to receive under this title. * * * Sums appropriated pursuant to this title for any fiscal year shall remain available, for obligation and payments with respect to amounts due local educational agencies under this title for such year, until the close of the following fiscal year." *
However, P.L. 874 does not constitute a promise by the United States to pay the full entitlement, for the statute contemplates that Congress may choose not to appropriate sufficient money to fund the program at 100% of entitlement. In such a circumstance section 5(C) provides that the Commissioner after deducting the amount necessary to fund section 6, shall, subject to any limitation in the appropriation act, apply the amount appropriated pro rata to the entitlements.84 (Since the Joelson Amendment provides no funding for sections 2 and 4, this would mean that after deducting the amount necessary to fund section 6 and, perhaps, constituting a reserve for possible application to section 7,4 the appropriation would be applied to the payment of section 3 entitlements.)
In sum, whatever limited discretionary authority the Commissioner may have with respect to determining entitlements, section 5 does not appear to permit any exercise of discretion in the application of appropriated funds to the payment of entitlements. Since the $585 million carried in the Joelson Amendment is only 90% of the total estimated entitlements, Departments of Labor and HEW Appropriations, 1970, Hearings before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, 91st Cong., 1st Sess., Pt. 5, p. 229, discretionary cutbacks on entitlements would have to exceed 10% of the total before there would be any impact on the total funding of the program.
2 The terms "category A" and "category B” refer to the standards for eligibility under subsections 3(a) and 3(b) respectively.
3 This provision for continued availability beyond the close of the fiscal year conflicts with section 405 of the appropriation bill. However, we understand that HEW recards the obligation of the funds as occurring within the fiscal year, even though the precise amount due may not be ascertained until after the close of the fiscal year.
3A Thus, he would have no authority to vary this formula in order to provide fuller funding for category A entitlements at the expense of category B entitlements unless Congress were so to provide in the appropriation act.
It is arguable that since the Joelson Amendment appropriates funds to carry out sections 3, 6 and 7, the Commissioner could set up a reserve for contingencies under section 7. disaster assistance. On the other hand, section 7(c) of P.L. 874 permite the Commissioner. notwithstanding the Anti-Deficiency Act, to grant assistance under section 7 out of moneys appropriated for the other sections, such funds to be reimbursel ogt of subsequent appropriations for carrying out section 7. Since the statute permits such application of funds allocated to carrying out section 3, it would be hard for the Commissioner to justify withholding funds from allocation on the basis of the possibility that they might be needed for disaster assistance.
We do not, in short, find within P.L. 874 any statutory authority for the Commissioner in the exercise of his discretion to avoid applying to the entitlements the full sum appropriated, and we conclude that the provisions of section 5 are mandatory in this respect. We understand that this conclusion is consistent with the position taken over the years by the General Counsel of the Department of HEW.
P.L. 815 authorizes payments to assist local school districts in the construction of school facilities in areas where enrollments are increased by Federal activities. The entitlement for assistance is computed under a statutory formula, and in addition there is provision for judicial review of a Commission's determination refusing to approve part or all of any application for assistance under the Act. (P.L. 815, $ 11(b), 20 U.S.C. 641(b).) On the other hand, the mechanics of administration of P.L. 815 differ significantly from those of P.L. 874. First, the Commissioner is not required to apply appropriations pro rata among the eligible districts, but in accordance with priorities which he establishes by regulation (83). Second, entitlement for assistance is not computed on a annual basis, but as a share of the cost of a particular project. Thus, if funds are held up in one fiscal year, the project may be funded the next year. Finally, the Commissioner is apparently free to allot, in his discretion, an indefinite share of the appropriation to section 14 purposes, school construction on Indian Reservations.
While we hesitate to conclude, on this fairly summary consideration, that the Commissioner has discretionary authority under P.L. 815 to delay indefinitely the obligation and expenditure of funds appropriated to carry out the statute, it does appear to us that there are enough discretionary powers throughout the statute to permit him to postpone the obligation of funds during fiscal 1970. Indeed, the Joelson Amendment provides that the appropriation for P.L. 815 shall remain available until expended, which would seem to confirm the conclusion that there is no legal requirement that the funds be obligated in the year for which the appropriation is made. However, inasmuch as the appropriation in question is relatively small and is consistent with the Administration's budget request, we see no need to discuss in greater detail the legal arguments which could be used to support a deferral of action to obligate the funds.
Notwithstanding the apparently mandatory provisions of P.L. 874, it has been suggested that the President has a constitutional right to refuse to spend funds which Congress has appropriated. In particular, there have been a number of statements by Congressmen with respect to the very programs of the Office of Education presently under consideration that Congress could not force the President to spend money which he did not want to spend.
Section 406 of the Vocational Education Amendments of 1968, 20 U.S.C.A. 1226 (Feb. 1969 Supp.) proyides that notwithstanding any other provision of law, unless expressly in limitation of this provision, funds appropriated to carry out any Office of Education program shall remain available for obligation until the end of the fiscal year. The purpose of this provision was to deny to the President authority which he would otherwise have had under the Rev. enue and Expenditure Control Act (P.L. 90-364), 88202, 203, to reduce obligations and expenditures on Office of Education programs, and, in particular, the impacted area programs and title III of the National Defense Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 441 et seq. See 114 Cong. Rec. S11864. During the debate in both Houses on this provision several members stated that section 406 would not interfere with the President's constitutional authority to reduce expenditures in the area of education. See remarks of Senators Dominick and Yarborough, 114 Cong. Rec. S11869; remarks of Congressmen Perkins and Quie. 114 Cong. Rec. H9463.
Similar views were expressed almost contemporaneously in connection with the House of Representatives' consideration of a Senate amendment to the Labor-HEW Appropriations Bill, 1969, (H.R. 18037), which would exempt from both the Anti-Deficiency Act and the Revenue and Expenditure Control Act an appropriation of $91 million for impacted area school assistance for fiscal 1968. In advising the House to accept the Senate amendment, Cong. Flood stated :
atory, that 18, provided that the school district is in compliance with applicable federal statutes and regulations. Where a district is not in compliance, the Commissioner may have authority to withhold or terminate assistance, see e.O., Civil Rights Act of 1964. title VI. 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq., 45 C.F.R. Part 80. Whether in the event of such a withholding or termination the Commissioner would be required to apply the funds to the unfunded entitlements of other districts is a point we need not decide at this time.
Memorandum of March 29, 1966 from General Counsel Willcox to Assistant Secretary Huitt: Memorandum of August 6, 1958 from General Counsel Bants to the Secretary (HEW files do not indicate whether this memo was actually sent).
"Section 406 of the Vocational Education Act amendments seems to many and, I must say, not to others, to cover what the language in disagreement seeks to do; but in any event there are many instances in which it has been made clear that the President has the constitutional powers to refuse to spend money which the Congress appropriates.” Cong. Rec., October 19, 1968, p. H9737.
Cong. Laird agreed :
"The language will not be interpreted as a requirement to spend because of the constitutional question which is involved. The Congress cannot compel the President of the United States to spend money that he does not want to spend." Ibid.
More recently, in the hearing on HEW's appropriation bill for fiscal 1970, Congressman Smith stated his belief that HEW was not compelled to spend the funds appropriated for the impact aid program. Hearings before a Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, 91st Cong., 1st Sess., Pt. I, p. 263. Subcommittee Chairman Flood appeared to agree. Ibid., p. 264.
Taken together these statements evidence broad Congressional support for the proposition that the President has some residual constitutional authority to refuse to expend those funds to which section 406 applies. What is not clear is the nature or the precise source of the authority the speakers had in mind.
For the reasons discussed below we conclude that the President does not have a constitutional right to impound P.L. 874 funds notwithstanding a Congressional direction that they be spent. However, before proceeding with discussion of the constitutional question we might note that the Congressional statements cited above might be used in support of another argument for Presidential authority, based on statutory interpretation. It might be argued that although these statements cannot affect the interpretation of P.L. 874, since they were not made in the course of enacting or amending that statute, nevertheless P.L. 874 is not self-executing, and its operation is expressly conditioned on the enactment of subsequent appropriations legislation. Therefore, in determining the duties of the Commissioner of Education one must construe the intent of both the substantive legislation, P.L.874, and the appropriations legislation, and the present understanding of Congress, as evidenced by the statements above, is that the enactment of the appropriation does not create a duty to spend.
Up to a point this argument has a certain amount of validity. We do not doubt, for example, that notwithstanding the terms of P.L. 874, Congress could provide in its appropriation that the money need not be spent. Or it could enact an appropriation, and then provide in contemporaneous or subsequent legislation that the money need not be spent, as was done in title II of the Revenue and Expenditure Control Act of 1968, P.L. 90-364. However, the Congressional statements cited above refer to the President's constitutional powers and not to Congressional intent. It seems doubtful that one can infer from those statements, most of them made in 1968, that Congress, in enacting the appropriations legislation in 1969, intended to exert less than its full authority to require the expenditure of funds appropriated to P.L. 874. Still, since at this writing the appropriations legislation has not yet been passed, it may be that legislative history may still be made which would support the argument that Congress does not intend to require the expenditure of the entire sum appropriated.
With respect to the suggestion that the President has a constitutional power to decline to spend appropriated funds, we must conclude that existence of such a broad power is supported by neither reason nor precedent. There is, of course, no question that an appropriation act permits but does not require the executive branch to spend funds. See 42 Ops. A. G. No. 32, p. 4 (1967). But this is basically a rule of construction, and does not meet the question whether the President has authority to refuse to spend where the appropriation act or the substantive legislation, fairly construed, require such action.
In 1967 Attorney General Clark issued an opinion, 42 Ops. A. G. No. 32, upholding the power of the President to impound funds which had been apportioned among the States pursuant to the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, 23 U.S.C. 101 et seq., but had not been obligated through the approval by the Secretary of Transportation of particular projects. This opinion appears to us to have been based on the construction of the particular statute, rather than on the assertion of a broad constitutional principle of Executive authority. While the reasoning of the opinion might lend support to Executive action deferring the obligation of funds under P.L. 815, we think the case of P.L. 874 is clearly distinguishable, because, among other reasons, impounding the P.L. 874 funds would result not in a deferral of expenditures, but in permanent loss to the recipient school districts of the funds in question and defeat of the Congressional intent that the operations of these districts be funded at a particular level for the fiscal year.
While there have been instances in the past in which the President has refused to spend funds appropriated by Congress for a particular purpose we know of no such instance involving a statute which by its terms sought to require such expenditure.
Although there is no judicial precedent squarely in point, Kendall v. United States, 12 Pet. 524 (1838), appears to us to be authority against the asserted Presidential power. In that case it was held that mandamus lay to compel the Postmaster General to pay to a contractor an award which had been arrived at in accordance with a procedure directed by Congress for settling the case. The court said:
"There are certain political duties imposed upon many officers in the executive department, the discharge of which is under the direction of the President. But it would be an alarming doctrine, that Congress cannot impose upon any executive officer any duty they may think proper, which is not repugnant to any rights secured and protected by the Constitution, and in such cases, the duty and responsibility grow out of and are subject to the control of the law, and not to the direction of the President. And this is emphatically the case where the duty enjoined is of a mere ministerial character." 12 Pet. at 610.
It might be argued that Kendall is not applicable to the instant situation because the Commissioner of Education's duties are not merely ministerial. Cf. Decatur v. Paulding, 14 Pet. 497, 515 (1840). On the other hand, while discretion is involved in the computation of the entitlement of the recipient districts, as we have pointed out, the application of the appropriation to the payment of entitlements pursuant to section 5(c) of P.L. 874 might reasonably be regarded as a ministerial duty. In any event, the former distinction between discretionary and ministerial duties has lost much of its significance in view of the broad availability of judicial review of agency actions and of a remedy in the Court of Claims for financial claims against the Government. 28 U.S.C. 1491. Thus, the mere fact that a duty may be described as discretionary does not, in our view, make the principle of the Kendall case inapplicable, if the action of the federal officer is beyond the bounds of discretion permitted him by the law.
In an unpublished opinion letter of May 27, 1937 to the President, Attorney General Cummings answered in the negative the question whether the President could legally require the heads of departments and agencies to withhold expenditures from appropriations made. Insofar as the opinion concludes that a Presidential directive may not bind a department head in the exercise of discretionary power vested in him by statute, this opinion appears inconsistent with the views expressed in the opinion of Attorney General Clark previously cited and with constitutional practice in recent years." However, the Cummings opinion also rejects any idea that the President has any power to refuse to spend appropriations other than such power as may be found or implied in the legislation itself.
It is in our view extremely difficult to formulate a constitutional theory to justify a refusal by the President to comply with a Congressional directive to spend. It may be argued that the spending of money is inherently an executive function, but the execution of any law is, by definition, an executive function, and it seems an anomalous proposition that because the Executive branch is bound to execute the laws, it is free to decline to execute them. Of course, if a Congressional directive to spend were to interfere with the President's authority in an area confided by the Constitution to his substantive
7 See, also, 2 Ops. A. G. 482 (1831).