Jimmy Carter photo

Remarks at a Bill Signing Ceremony for H.R. 8533 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

October 21, 1978

It's a rare thing for me to sign a major piece of legislation outside Washington. I've only done it twice. Once was when we approved the legislation which would save New York City from bankruptcy, and I decided to go to New York to do this. It was much better received up there than it was in Washington. [Laughter]

And the other time was earlier today in Wichita, Kansas, when I signed the Farm Trade Act of 1978, which will greatly enhance our ability to export farm products to foreign nations. This bill is far-reaching in its effect. It will authorize a further expansion of exports.

Last year, as you know, in spite of very depressed unit farm prices, we had the highest level of exports in history, $24 billion. This year, we'll hit $26.6 billion, perhaps a little more; next year, even higher figure. And I know in your own region here it's absolutely crucial that we have a continuation of sustained farm exports, particularly with the bumper crops that we have experienced in recent months.

A third of our grain which is exported is transported down the Mississippi River—one-third. Eleven percent of our total exports go through the Mississippi River Transportation System, much higher percentage than that in bulk cargo of all kinds.

One of the serious problems in the past in increasing this rate of transport of products that are produced here in Minnesota and other parts of the Midwest has been the Locks and Dam 26 in Illinois. And for many years, there has been an attempt made to have authorization passed to improve this system. The Congress has now passed this legislation. It's not yet been signed by the President. And I wanted to come here where you are so heavily interested in this project to put my signature on the bill which will make it law.

This is an authorization bill. At the same time ever since Franklin Roosevelt was President, there has been an attempt made to let those who use our waterways contribute to the improvement and construction of projects that would enhance the use of the waterways, waterway user fees. This bill authorizes that to be done.

Beginning in 1980, 4 cents per gallon of fuel sold for use in barge transport will go into a trust fund. And that will build up by 1985 to 10 cents a gallon. By 1985 we'll have $100 million a year going into this trust fund that will then be used exclusively for the improvement of our waterway system itself. I think this is a very good step in the right direction.

Along with this the Congress has directed that an entire study be made of the concept of water user fees to be sure that they can be extended throughout the country and used in the most effective way; and also a study to be made of the Mississippi River Basin, particularly its transportation system. All of these provisions are in the bill before me now.

I would particularly like to thank the Minnesota congressional delegation. Senator Wendell Anderson serves on the Energy and National Resources Committee and also on the Budget Committee, which is very helpful in passing legislation important to your State, as you can well see. And of course, Senator Humphrey, both Hubert and his wife, Muriel, have been of great help in getting this legislation passed.

The Members of the House have done the same. I want to express my thanks to them. Also, since we are signing this bill outside Washington, I think it's good to recognize for the media itself some others who have worked very hard on this legislation: Senator Stevenson—Adlai Stevenson of Illinois; Senator Russell Long, who is chairman of the Finance Committee and very interested in the Mississippi, of course; and Senator Domenici; Senator Jennings Randolph from West Virginia, who was the founder of the Interstate Highway System and who's been a very heavy contributor throughout his own legislative career, which is distinguished-which I hope will continue for 6 more years after this year—who has been instrumental in helping me. And of course, in the House, Bizz Johnson, and the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Al Ullman.

But I'm very proud to recognize all those Members of the Congress, your own delegation, particularly, from Minnesota.

And now I will sign into law House bill 8533, which will authorize the future construction of Locks and Dam 26, in Alton, Illinois, and make even more effective the use of the Mississippi River for transporting your products both to other parts of our country and to overseas export.

Thank you very much.

[At this point, the President signed the bill.]

We are very honored tonight to have with us not only the Vice President, who's worked as a partner with me on this, but also Brock Adams, who's the Secretary of Transportation. And I'd like to see if Brock has a word to say.

Note: The President spoke at 7:15 p.m. in the Lake of the Isles Room at the Minneapolis Auditorium.

As enacted, H.R. 8533 is Public Law 95502, approved October 21.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks at a Bill Signing Ceremony for H.R. 8533 in Minneapolis, Minnesota Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243450

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives