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Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill Authorizing Certain Activities of the Bureau of Reclamation.

August 14, 1946

I HAVE WITHHELD my approval of H.R. 5654, a bill "To provide basic authority for the performance of certain functions and activities of the Bureau of Reclamation".

Paragraph (e) of the bill is objectionable because, in addition to authorizing the payment of educational expenses of dependents of Federal employees in the vicinity of Boulder and Grand Coulee Dams, it provides for the payment of such expenses at the Davis and Semihoe Dam projects and at all other projects operated in part by the Bureau of Reclamation. The first authorization of this sort was contained in the Interior Department Appropriation Act, 1940, and covered payments to the Boulder City School District, Nevada, for the school years 1938-39 and 1939-40. While objectionable at that time, the provision could not be nullified except by a disapproval, which would not be justified, of the entire appropriation bill. In the Interior Department Appropriation Act, 1942, similar payments were authorized for the Mason City and Coulee Dam School districts, Washington. These authorizations have been continued in each annual appropriation bill since the dates of initiation.

Payments to the districts named have been authorized for so long a period now that I am not inclined to insist on the suspension of such payments. I am unable to agree, however, that a general policy should be established for the education, including transportation to and from school, at Federal expense, of the children of Federal employees at or near all Bureau of Reclamation projects. If such a policy were established for the education of the dependents of employees of one agency of the Government, its application to all agencies of the Government could not be successfully resisted. Its application to the Bureau of Reclamation, as proposed by this bill, is, in fact, discriminatory against the other bureaus and offices of the Interior Department.

Paragraph (h) of the bill is also objectionable. During the war years it was found expedient, as an aid to the winning of the war, to make provision for the acceleration of the development of raw lands on the Gila project in Arizona, and in the Coachella Valley, California. To that end permission was granted in annual appropriation acts for the Bureau of Reclamation to make expenditures for land leveling, construction of farm ditches and the production of soil building crops. Paragraph (h) of H.R. 5654 makes permanent the authorization for such expenditures in these two areas. It goes much further, however, by extending such authority to any and all other irrigation projects duly authorized by Federal law. It seems to me that such broad general authority is unwise and unwarranted. Moreover, such authority is likely to result in a duplication of certain functions which the Department of Agriculture and its constituent units are authorized and able to perform. Duplication of this character can be avoided by the development of cooperative agreements between the two Departments, and I understand that steps are now being taken to perfect such agreements.

In the circumstances, I have withheld approval of this bill, but I would gladly approve a measure with the objectionable provisions eliminated.


Harry S Truman, Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill Authorizing Certain Activities of the Bureau of Reclamation. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232045

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