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Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House on the Need for Additional Alaskan Reconstruction Legislation

May 27, 1964

Dear Mr. :

The State of Alaska and the people of Alaska, aided by voluntary agencies and the Federal Government, have begun to rebuild from the ruins of the devastating earthquake of March 27. But new legislative authority is urgently needed to provide the additional special assistance essential to their reconstruction efforts. I am today, therefore, sending to the Congress draft legislation to provide this authority.

Immediately following the earthquake, we moved quickly to assist Alaska and its people. Under existing programs and new authorities proposed in this draft bill, the Federal Government is estimated to spend over $275 million in Alaska in the course of the earthquake reconstruction program.

Major items in this estimate include $80 million of grants under the existing authority of the Office of Emergency Planning for restoring public facilities and debris clearance; over $75 million for restoration of Federal facilities; over $60 million in grants for highway repair; and up to $45 million in grants for urban renewal projects. Also, legislation has already been approved by the Congress--which I will sign into law today--authorizing $23.5 million in grants to the State to make up losses of State and local tax revenues and to insure continuity of government.

In addition, under existing law, various outstanding Federal loans are being adjusted. Federal tax refunds and reductions will be based on casualty losses, and various Federal agencies are extending credit on liberal terms. The Small Business Administration, for example, will make disaster loans on very favorable terms to assist homeowners and businesses in reconstruction.

The legislation which I am proposing-based on recommendations of the Federal Reconstruction and Development Planning Commission for Alaska--will provide greater flexibility in Federal programs to cope with the extraordinary circumstances arising out of the earthquake. Included among the programs involved are highways, urban renewal, housing, and harbor improvements.

The enclosed letter from the Chairman of the Commission, Senator Clinton P. Anderson, describes the principal features of the draft bill.

Concern for our fellow citizens alone compels prompt action on this proposal. But practical considerations are also most important. The construction season in Alaska is about to begin and is of short duration. The sooner Alaska can complete its reconstruction efforts, the sooner it can begin again to devote its efforts toward the further development of the State's resources.

Accordingly, I urge the Congress to take prompt action on the proposed legislation to facilitate Alaskan planning and reconstruction efforts during this summer's construction season.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Carl Hayden, President pro tempore of the Senate, and to the Honorable John W. McCormack, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

An amendment to the Alaska Omnibus Act, providing further assistance to Alaska for reconstruction purposes, was approved by the President on August 19, 1964 (Public Law 88-451, 78 Stat. 505).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House on the Need for Additional Alaskan Reconstruction Legislation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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