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Memorandum on Informing Congressional Committees of Changes Involving Foreign Economic Assistance Funds.

January 09, 1963

[ Released January 9, 1963. Dated January 8, 1963 ]

Memorandum for the Administrator, Agency for International Development:

The Foreign Aid and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 1963 contains a provision which states that program changes involving funds for economic assistance carried forward from prior years may be made only if the Appropriations Committees of the Congress are notified prior to such changes and no objection is entered by either Committee within 60 days.

I have been advised by the Attorney General that this provision is unconstitutional either as a delegation to Congressional committees of powers which reside only in the Congress as a whole or as an attempt to confer executive powers on the Committee in violation of the principle of separation of powers prescribed in Articles I and II of the Constitution. Previous Presidents and Attorneys General have objected to similar provisions permitting a Committee to veto executive action authorized by law.

On July 17, 1944 President Roosevelt signed a bill to permit increased oil production from the Elk Hills reserve because there was an immediate need for the legislation; in his signing statement he objected to a requirement that contracts and leases not be undertaken without prior consultation with the Naval Affairs Committees on the grounds that to delegate this function to two Committees is "to disregard principles basic to our form of government."

On July 19, 1952 President Truman vetoed a bill granting authority to lease space for postal purposes because a Congressional committee would be allowed to pass on proposed contracts.

On July 13, 1955 President Eisenhower signed the fiscal year 1956 Defense Appropriation Bill only because the funds were urgently needed; in his signing statement he objected strongly to a provision permitting a Congressional committee to veto contracts with private enterprise for work previously performed by Government personnel.

I concur in these views. However, I consider it entirely proper for the committees to request information with respect to plans for the expenditures of appropriated funds, and I recognize the desirability of consultations between officials of the executive branch and the committees. It is therefore my intention, acting on the advice of the Department of Justice, to treat this provision as a request for information. You are therefore requested to keep the appropriations committees fully informed of any re-obligation of prior year funds.


John F. Kennedy, Memorandum on Informing Congressional Committees of Changes Involving Foreign Economic Assistance Funds. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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