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PROVIDING PAYMENT TO EMPLOYEES, BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, FOR MILEAGE TRAVELED IN PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES
APRIL 1, 1935.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state
of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. DEMPSEY, from the Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation,
submitted the following
(To accompany H. R. 6142]
The Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 6142) providing payment to employees, Bureau of Reclamation, for mileage traveled in privately owned automobiles, having considered the same, report thereon with recommendation that it do pass.
The bill in its present form meets with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, whose letter of March 11, 1935, descriptive of the legislation, follows:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, March 11, 1935. Hon. COMPTON I. WHITE, Chairman Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation,
House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: I have received, with request for report, copy of H. R. 6142, “Providing payment to employees, Bureau of Reclamation, for mileage traveled in privately owned automobiles.”
The circumstances upon which this bill is predicated are as follows: In the interest of practical economy and efficient business administration in the conduct of operations it had been the practice of the Bureau of Reclamation to authorize employees to use their personally owned automobiles for travel to and from their official headquarters to their designated work. To sanction this practice there was incorporated in the Interior Department Appropriation Act for the fiscal year 1932 the following provision:
“Whenever, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1932, the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation shall find that the expenses of travel, including the local transportation of employees to and from their homes to the places where they are engaged on construction or operation and maintenance work, can be reduced thereby, he may authorize the payment of not to exceed 3 cents per mile for a motorcycle or 7 cents per mile for an automobile used for necessary official business."
Substantially similar provisions had been incorporated in the appropriation Acts for prior years. Under this authority it had been the customary and continuous practice to pay project-operating employees for the use of their privately owned automobiles or motorcycles when such use had been authorized in the performance of their duties and no Government-owned motorcycle or automobile was available. The travel for which it has been customary to make payment to employees may be divided into two distinctive classes: (1) That of dragline or ditch-cleaner operators, and (2) that performed by the project operating employees or water masters and assistant water masters.
The Comptroller General, in decision of April 30, 1932, A-41688, held that the provision quoted from the appropriation act did not authorize payment for services of the character indicated for the reason that the act of February 14, 1931 (46 Stat., 1103), effective July 1, 1931, only authorized payment when employees were engaged in necessary travel away from their headquarters. It will be noted that the general act of February 14, 1931, by coincidence, was approved on the same day as the appropriation act for the fiscal year 1932, already mentioned.
Relying upon the practice that had long prevailed and what was believed to be specific authority, employees were engaged with their automobiles and motorcycles prior to the decision of the Comptroller General. The present bill is designed merely to relieve suspensions and disallowances in the accounts of special fiscal agents on account of travel expense incurred prior to the Comptroller General's decision mentioned, and is not intended to modify the procedure enjoined in the Comptroller General's decision as to travel thereafter. It seems manifestly just that these fiscal agents receive relief to the extent authorized by the bill.
The companion bill, S. 1402, was referred to the Acting Director of the Bureau of the Budget, who stated that the proposed legislation would not be in conflict with the financial program of the President. Therefore I recommend favorable consideration of the bill. Sincerely yours,
HAROLD L. ICKES,
Secretary of the Interior.
UNIVERSAL AND INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION AT
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM, IN 1935
APRIL 1, 1935.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of
the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Bloom, from the Committee on Foreign Affairs, submitted the
[To accompany H. J. Res. 210)
The Committee on Foreign Affairs, to whom was referred the resolution (H. J. Res. 210) for the participation of the United States in a universal and international exhibition at Brussels, Belgium, in 1935, baving considered the same, report it to the House with the recommendation that it do pass.
Your committee has received information from the Department of State that no objection is offered to the passage of the resolution. A letter received from the Secretary of State, dated March 28, 1935, is made a part of this report. The letter is as follows:
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, March 28, 1935. Hon. Sam D. McREYNOLDS,
House of Representatives. MY DEAR JUDGE McREYNOLDS: Hon. Sol Bloom has requested me to submit a report on House Joint Resolution No. 210 providing for the participation of the United States in a universal and international exhibition to be held at Brussels, Belgium, in 1935.
In a letter of March 6, 1935, I gave you a resumé of the steps taken subsequent to the receipt of the formal invitation from the Belgian Ambassador to the Government of the United States to be represented at the exposition, including a review of a previous letter dated June 16, 1934, and a statement of developments subsequent to that date. The pertinent parts of the letter of June 16, 1934, are as follows:
“The invitation was received in a note from the Belgian Ambassador dated January 22, 1927, and, since this time, the Department has been in correspondence with the other interested departments with a view to deciding definitely whether the invitation should be accepted.
“As time passed, however, and it became desirable to make some definitive reply to the Belgian Ambassador, the matter was discussed at a meeting of the Cabinet held on November 17, 1933. The question of requesting Congress for a suitable appropriation to defray the expenses of American participation at the exposition came up for discussion but was not favorably considered. Mr. Roper, the Secretary of Commerce, expressed considerable interest in the exposition, however, and offered to approach various American business groups, interested in foreign trade, to ascertain whether, among them, sufficient funds could be raised for a nongovernmental exhibit of some kind. It was decided, therefore, to defer making a definite reply to the Blegian Ambassador until the Secretary of Commerce should have had an opportunity of consulting the business organizations, thought likely to be interested in exhibiting at the exposition.
“On March 8, 1934, the Department wrote to the Secretary of Commerce, inquiring whether the organizations approached had manifested sufficient interest in the proposal to warrant a definite conclusion. No reply to this letter has as yet been received."
In a letter of December 13, 1934, the Department again wrote to the Secretary of Commerce regarding the results of his inquiries of business groups as to the possibility of a nongovernmental exhibit, and under date of December 19, 1934, the Acting Secretary of Commerce replied that although inquiries as to both United States official and nongovernmental participation has been numerous, only one organization had indicated serious intention of entering a display.
In view of these circumstances the Department does not feel justified in making a specific recommendation to the committee on this legislation.
I wish to reiterate, however, that considering the matter from the standpoint