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COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
CLARENCE CANNON, Missouri, Chairman JOHN H. KERR, North Carolina
JOHN TABER, New York GEORGE H. MAHON, Texas
RICHARD B. WIGGLESWORTH, Massachusetts HARRY R. SHEPPARD, California CHARLES A. PLUMLEY, Vermont ALBERT THOMAS, Texas
ALBERT J. ENGEL, Michigan MICHAEL J. KIRWAN, Ohio
KARL STEFAN, Nebraska W. F. NORRELL, Arkansas
FRANCIS CASE, South Dakota ALBERT GORE, Tennessee
FRANK B. KEEFE, Wisconsin
BEN F. JENSEN, Iowa
WALT HORAN, Washington
GORDON CANFIELD, New Jersey JOE B. BATES, Kentucky
IVOR D. FENTON, Pennsylvania
JOHN PHILLIPS, California
CLIFF CLEVENGER, Ohio
GEORGE Y. HARVEY, Clerk
SUBCOMMITTEE ON DEFICIENCIES AND ARMY CIVIL FUNCTIONS
JOHN H. KERR, North Carolina, Chairman CLARENCE CANNON, Missouri
JOHN TABER, New York LOUIS C. RABAUT, Michigan
RICHARD B. WIGGLESWORTH, Massachusetts CORHAL D. ORESCAN, Executive Secretary to Subcommittee
FIRST DEFICIENCY APPROPRIATION BILL 1949
HEARINGS CONDUCTED BY THE SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE COM
MITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, IN CHARGE OF DEFICIENCY AND ARMY CIVIL FUNCTIONS APPROPRIATIONS, NAMELY:
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26, 1949.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF RECLAMATION
STATEMENT OF HON. OSCAR L. CHAPMAN, UNDER SECRETARY,
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
REPEAL OF PROVISION IN THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT
APPROPRIATION BILL, 1949
Mr. KERR. Mr. Chapman, we are glad to have you with us this morning. We will hear you now with reference to an item contained in House Document No. 35 relating to a proviso in the appropriation bill for the Department of the Interior which you are asking to be repealed. That is correct, I believe? Mr. CHAPMAN. Yes. Mr. KERR. We will be glad to hear you on the matter.
Mr. CHAPMAN. I have a brief statement. I thought it would not be necessary to make a lengthy statement on it.
Secretary Krug had planned to be here in connection with this matter, but he is appearing this morning before the Subcommittee opening hearings on the Interior Department Appropriation Bill for 1950. He is the principal witness there this morning. Therefore, I am appearing here, and, if you will permit me, I would like to read this brief statement.
Mr. KERR. You may proceed.
Mr. CHAPMAN. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, this appearance before you to support the President's request that the Straus-Boke rider, which was attached to the Interior Department Appropriation Act for 1949, be repealed will be quite brief. “All that is here asked by the President is that the House Appropriations Committee act in accordance with and in confirmation with the conclusion that it reached in the last session of Congress when it flatly rejected this rider which was subsequently attached to the bill on the floor by a very small vote and contrary to the votes of all members of the House Subcommittee on Interior Appropriations.
The basis of this attack on Straus and Boke has been fully established. They persevered in carrying out the Reclamation Law have
ing to do with antimonopoly provisions on land and public power and refused to deviate from their oaths of office. When efforts to change these laws failed and these two officials stuck to their guns, this rider evolved when the interests behind it sought to change the management when they couldn't change the law.
The rider in its present form accomplishes nothing but is punitive action against two Federal officials who have done a good job. It does not deprive them of their funetions or their authority, and it will not change policy—it could not because it is an appropriation item and, therefore, properly before this committee, and it is not legislation. It merely deprives them of their salaries for an arbitrary period starting at 12:01 midnight February 1 and concluding at 12:01 midnight July 1 when, in the absence of other congressional action, it automatically expires.
By law of Congress, the Reclamation Commissioner is appointed by the President of the United States. President Truman selected Commissioner Straus for that task and is pleased with the way he has discharged his duties and carried forward the reclamation program. Regional Director Boke of California, the only other man affected by the rider, is a civil servant whose livelihood should not be jeopardized by this type of legislation.
President Truman has expressed his desire as to this rider on numerous occasions, and I will content myself with citing three expressions of his views.
Within the month when requesting this repealer, the President, in the letter to the Speaker of the House, said:
I have previously indicated my opposition to this proviso which has the effect of legislating out of office the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation and one of his principal assistants. This arbitrary action is diametrically opposed to the principles on which this Government is founded. Furthermore, these positions are primarily administrative in character and do not necessarily require a professional engineering background.
I strongly urge the repeal of this restrictive provision.
At somewhat greater length, on August 7, 1948, he transmitted a message to the Congress in which he said: · I also recommend to the Congress repeal of a proviso contained in the Interior Department Appropriation Act for 1949 * * * This proviso has the effect of legislating out of office two of the principal officials of the Bureau of Reclamation
In summary, while the proviso refers to the positions of Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, and Regional Director, it is, in fact, designed to effect the removal of two men who have vogorously enforced the reclamation laws and the public-power policy of the Government, and who in so doing have incurred the wrath of powerful special interests. That they should be arbitrarily legislated out of office is diametrically opposed to the principles on which this Government is founded
And on June 30 of last year on the occasion of signing the Interior Department Appropriation Act of 1949, the President was even more specific when he said:
If it had been possible to veto this bill without bringing the vital work of the Department to a stand-still, I would have done so because of a rider in the bill establishing arbitrary qualifications for the Commissioner, the Assistant Commissioner, and the regional directors of the Bureau of Reclamation. This rider is designed to effect the removal of two men now holding such positions who have supported the public power policy of the Government and the 160-acre law which assures that western lands reclaimed at public expense shall be used for
the development of family-size farms. No matter what may be the asserted reasons for wanting to remove these men from office, the result would be to serve the purposes of special interests desirous of monopolizing the rich farm lands of the West and intent upon stopping the construction of transmission lines for the delivery of power from Federal dams. These same interests tried first to get the law changed but failed, and having failed then sought to get the management changed.
This type of legislation does great harm to our democratic principles. It is contrary to the spirit, if not the letter, of those provisions of the Constitution which guarantee the separation of legislative and executive functions and afford proection against bills of attainder. This type of action subjects Federal officials to the risk of being legislated out of office if they incur the wrath of special interests as a result of vigorous enforcement of the law.
We are naturally anxious to have this problem disposed of as soon as possible by removing this restrictive proviso.
Mr. KERR. Have you any question, Mr. Rabaut?
Mr. TABER. This rider was placed in the bill in the Senate, was it not?
Mr. CHAPMAN. It was placed in the bill by an amendment on the Floor of the House, Congressman.
Mr. TABER. It was placed there on motion of Representatives from the West; is that correct?
Mr. CHAPMAN. I do not remember who made the motion.
Mr. WIGGLESWORTH. It was offered by Mr. Elliott of California, a Democratic Member of the House.
Mr. CHAPMAN. I do not know who offered that amendment. Mr. TABER. It was supported very largely by Senator Downey? Mr. CHAPMAN. That is right.
Mr. TABER. With the idea of trying to promote efficiency in the Bureau of Reclamation? Was not that the basis of the argument for it?
Mr. CHAPMAN. Of course, I would not assume any Congressman or Senator had any ulterior motive in it, Congressman.
Mr. WIGGLESWORTH. Do I understand you to say that the President is pleased with the record which had been made under the two gentlemen in question ?
Mr. CHAPMAN. He is. He is pleased with the work, the services, and the record of both Mr. Straus and Mr. Boke.
Mr. WIGGLESWORTH. He is satisfied with the progress under their direction that has been made in the field of reclamation and irrigation ?
Mr. CHAPMAN. I think he is.
Mr. WIGGLES WORTH. Do you believe that the action taken under their leadership has been in accordance with the intent of the Congress with particular reference to how the money should be spent in the fields of reclamation and irrigation?
Mr. CHAPMAN. I do.
Mr. WIGGLESWORTH. Both of these gentlemen, as I understand it, are primarily newspapermen.
Mr. CHAPMAN. They have had some newspaper background. I do not think Mr. Boke, the regional director, was ever a newspaperman.
Mr. WIGGLESWORTH. In a word, just what is the background of the two gentlemen in question?