Excerpts from the Press Conference
THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to tell you about two steps—three things really—and they are all down in mimeographed form, so you won't have to take notes. I think the mimeographed form will follow substantially the one I am looking at in talking to you.
Today's announcement is confined to the following, in other words all the news that is, as one of the newspapers says, fit to print.
In order to meet the immediate problem relating to the Executive branch of the Government as a result of the Supreme Court N.R.A. decision, two steps, two immediate steps, have been discussed and agreed to. That was as a result, first of the Cabinet meeting this morning, and later on, of the discussion with various heads of agencies affected, and finally of talking it over with the three Senators and three Members of the House you saw come in here.
The first step relates to the operation of the existing National Recovery Administration. As you know, the National Recovery Administration is still a legal agency of the Government. The Supreme Court decision merely said that the codes created under the National Recovery Administration were "out"; and therefore we are seeking an amendment by the House of Representatives to the Senate Joint Resolution which extended the life of the N.R.A. to April 1, 1936. In effect, this amendment would merely do this: it would eliminate from that Joint Resolution the language therein relating to codes, because codes, as such, are impossible under the decision laid down by the Supreme Court, first, as to the delegation of legislative power, and, second, as to interstate commerce. It would remove all reference to code-making.
It would continue, however, what remains of the useful functions of N.R.A., which have nothing to do with code-making or the maintenance of fair standards of employment or fair business practices. This action would send the Joint Resolution back to the Senate in a simplified form. In other words, it would strike out all questions of codes or the extension of N.R.A. in relation to codes; it would merely extend what might be called the corporate life of N.R.A. as an administration.
That work of N.R.A. would, between now and next April 1, cover the following: it would bring together and summarize the vast amount of information which is now in the possession of N.R.A. relating to the actual results of the codes during the past year and a half, the effects .on employment, the effects on fair trade practices, the effects .on prices. It is generally felt that this information is of sufficient value to reduce it to simple, understandable form, for the information of the Congress, the Administration, and the public.
The second thing that N.R.A. would continue to do would be to study the effects between now and next April 1, on industry, on employers and on employees, of the abandonment by the Government of code enforcement or code requirements as was made necessary by the Supreme Court decision. In other words, they will study, in parallel columns, you might say, the results under code administrations and the results in industry without codes. That again will be of great value in determining next steps.
Furthermore, N.R.A. would, if extended as a corporate entity, as an organization, be useful in carrying out the second-stage, the second step that I am coming to in two or three months. That second step is a requirement that Government purchases and Government contracts be placed only with corporations or contractors who live up to certain minimum requirements.
The N.R.A. machinery which is in existence in all the major centers of the United States can be used to see that contractors and people who supply things to the Government live up to the requirements that are proposed for Government contracts of all kinds. In other words, somebody has to see that the contract is lived up to and the N.R.A. organization can be used for that purpose.
Now, the extension of N.R.A. means that there are 5,400 people in its employ of whom, as I remember it, 4,200 are in Washington and 1,200 are in other parts of the country.
THE PRESIDENT: Forty-two hundred in Washington, I think roughly, and 1,200 in other parts of the country.
This extension of N.R.A. of course does mean that quite a number of people will be relieved, but, on the other hand, it means the retention of a substantial number of them.
In that connection, and this seems to be a good opportunity for doing it, I want to record my deep appreciation and that of the country for the unselfish work which thousands of men and women employed under, or in conjunction with, the National Recovery Administration have done in the past two years. I want to extend to them my sincere thanks, and I regret the circumstances under which the retirement of many of them from Government service becomes obligatory.
Now, finally, I think it should not be assumed—and I say this so as to avoid raising false hopes—it should not be assumed by any person, any partnership, any corporation that this proposed legal continuation of the National Recovery Administration from June 16th next to the first of April, 1936, relates in any shape, manner or form to enforcement of working conditions or fair-trade practices that formerly existed under codes, because all such requirements were eliminated with the Supreme Court decision eliminating the codes. I don't want anybody to have false hopes that an extension of N.R.A. in this very, very limited form is intended to do anything to circumvent the decision of the Supreme Court. The only exception is that regarding Government contracts which I am coming to in number two.
This other measure which, like the first, must be considered as only a very partial stop-gap, relates to Government contracts and to the use of Government funds. Only a very small portion of industrial production in the United States, probably not over 1 percent, is used in Government work. The other 99 percent of American production is used in private work. Nevertheless, in spite of this small percentage, I feel that the Government should take a practical and definite step to show its good faith in maintaining the larger objectives sought by N.R.A.
The proposed legislation would authorize a requirement in every Government purchase, or every Government contract, and in the use of Government loans and grants to States, municipalities or other local Government agencies, that all persons engaged in the production of the supplies or in the carrying out of the contract shall be paid in accordance with minimum-wage and maximum-hour standards and that no person under the age of sixteen shall be employed in carrying out the supplies or contracts.
The bill not only carries out the moral responsibility of the Federal Government but points the way as an example to private industry and expresses as forcibly as anyone can, and implies, the hope that private industry in all of its branches will follow the lead of the Government.
Like the first measure relating to N.R.A., however, it does not make much progress toward obtaining the ultimate objective of national standards for the working population of the United States, or of national standards to protect honorable employers against the unfair practices of less honorable competitors.
Now, we come down to the third thing, which is not very exciting. We made a list last week of all of the different Government agencies which were affected one way or another by the decision. Some of them were set up in part, and some were set up wholly, under Title I of the National Industrial Recovery Act. There were about sixteen of them. Of these sixteen, new legislation would be necessary for the continuance of four. This is all down in this mimeographed copy, so you don't have to take it all down.
The first is the Federal Alcohol Control Administration. Legislation for a new Federal Alcohol Control Administration is practically ready. Second is legislation for the Electric Home and Farm Authority, which has been selling electric gadgets on time payments in certain areas of the Tennessee Valley. That is being worked on at the present time. Third is legislation for the continuation of the Central Statistical Board. That is already in the House, ready to be reported out of committee. The Central Statistical Board, as you know, for the first time brought together all kinds of statistical information of the Government, from the different departments, and has sought to standardize its terms and to get a simple and uniform picture instead of having fifteen or twenty different pictures which seem to vary from each other because they use different terms. Probably in the long run it will save a good deal of actual appropriations by consolidation of the statistical work of the Government.
The fourth is the Petroleum Administrative Board and that question is tied up, not with any special legislation, but with such general oil legislation as Congress decides to pass.
Those are the four whose continuance depends on new legislation.
Then you come down to two agencies which can very easily be continued and will be continued by amendments to Executive Orders. They are the National Emergency Council and the National Resources Board. One of them, the National Emergency Council, relates to the execution of work relief, and the other, the National Resources Board, relates to planning for work relief. They therefore, both of them, come under the Work Relief Act and a very slight modification of the two Executive Orders keeps them going.
Then there are three agencies which have completed their work and it was planned some time ago that they would go out of business on the sixteenth of June anyway. That was planned a month or six weeks ago. Those agencies are the Committee on Economic Security which helped to draft the Social Security Act last summer and has been continuing through the winter. We also have the Advisory Council on Economic Security which was a brother of the other one. The third is the Special Adviser to the President on Foreign Trade. The other two agencies that Mr. Peek runs, the two Export-Import Banks, continue with Mr. Peek in charge of the banks.
Then there are seven labor boards created under N.R.A. They have to terminate in their present capacity. They are: the National Labor Relations Board, the Petroleum Labor Relations Board, the Steel Labor Relations Board, the Textile Labor Relations Board, the Work Assignment Board for Cotton, the Work Assignment Board for Silk, and the Work Assignment Board for Wool.
However, I am sending to the Speaker this afternoon a supplemental estimate of appropriations for the Department of Labor for the coming fiscal year to the extent of $600,000. This will enable the Secretary of Labor to conduct additional mediation and conciliation activities which in the past have been a part but only a comparatively small part of the work of these seven boards which have been put out. This will give to the Department of Labor enough money to extend the mediation and conciliation work of the Department of Labor. It does not give any additional powers to the Department of Labor in labor disputes other than for mediation and conciliation services. It is worth noting, however, that the Wagner Labor Bill, if enacted, would set up new tribunals which would substantially cover the functions heretofore exercised by the seven boards which have gone out of existence.
So that covers the sixteen agencies which were affected by the decision under Section 1 of N.R.A. . . .
Q. Mr. President, can you tell us anything about oil legislation?
THE PRESIDENT: I would just as soon tell you the situation with regard to oil legislation. It comes down to this, and it is being discussed on the Hill. Six of the States have entered into compacts and those compacts in effect are State treaties. They are filed with the Secretary of State here in Washington, and when and if they are ratified by the Congress, they give those States, under their treaty-making power with each other, the right to set a quota for all production.
The chief objection to that is that it does not cover a great many other States which also produce oil. For instance, in the East and Middle West there are a great many States like New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan that are all oil-producing States. They produce a substantial amount of oil, mostly from what they call "strip" wells. Now, they are not included in these compacts at all. The compact-States want no legislation. They want to go ahead and see how this thing works for a year. A good many people on the Hill think that there should be some legislation which would enable the Federal Government to act in case the compact fails.
Suppose these six States made a compact and one of them failed to live up to it and produced 10 percent more oil than they had agreed on in the compact. Of course that would spoil the entire objective and effect of the compact; and this legislation that is now proposed would give to a new Petroleum Administration the right to step in only if the compact method fails, to set a quota and see to it that it is lived up to by all of the oil-producing States. . . .
Q. Mr. President, can you give us some light on the Guffey Coal Control Bill? Can you give us your view on that?
THE PRESIDENT: No, because if I gave it on that, I would have to give it on a lot more. However, I think I can say this on the Guffey Control Bill—that a great many people think that it is constitutional and is a way out in regard to one of the most important natural resources that we have got and, furthermore, the passage of that bill may be the solution of the employment problem in the coal industry, which seems to be in somewhat critical condition.
Q. You say a great many people believe that?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q. Why isn't it a solution with respect to some other industries?
THE PRESIDENT: That is another thing.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/208721