Harry S. Truman photo

Remarks at a Luncheon Given in His Honor by the Secretary of the Interior.

February 07, 1951

I WANT to drink a toast to the Secretary of the Interior and his great committee.

I appreciate your asking me to come over here today. It is a pleasure. I very seldom get a chance to have a meeting like this with the Members of the Congress, because I just don't have any space. I am always glad to see any of you when you come down, but you know how difficult it is to get an appointment for the simple reason that I begin at 9 o'clock in the morning, and every 15 minutes from then until 1 o'clock I meet somebody who thinks he has business with the President--and I guess most of them do-and then from 3 o'clock until 5 or 6 the same thing goes on.

I want you to introduce a measure to inaugurate longer hours and shorter pay--I would like very much to have a 24-hour day, and at least a 10-day week, if you can arrange it, so that there will be time enough for me to get the job done that I have to do.

You are all interested in public works, and in the continuation of those things that are necessary to keep the country running, in spite of the emergency with which we are faced. My friend here is in favor of making the Republican River navigable. That is on account of its name, and not because it has any merit otherwise.

And every single one of you has a very important project of the same sort in your district or your State. I have several in Missouri, but since I am not a Senator from Missouri and can't do anything about it, and since I am not a Congressman from Missouri and not on a committee like this, there is nothing I can do about it. And I can't make any special recommendations, because if I do I will be accused of increasing the unnecessary expenditures of the Government, and in all likelihood will be cut off from special appropriations for Missouri, which is all right; and in return for that I will try to reciprocate with every State in the Union.

I hope we can have meetings like this often. I have found that when you are acquainted with people, no matter whether they are on your side from a partisan standpoint or not, you find that there is not a great deal of difference. Most every Member of the two bodies that constitute the Congress is just as interested in the welfare of the country as the rest of us.

It is a lucky thing that I had 10 years' experience in the Senate, and in that way became personally acquainted with most of you. Those that I do not know are those who have come in since 1944--since April 12, 1945, to put it accurately--and I am sorry that I am not better acquainted with those who came later. I think, if they would consult me, I could give them a little advice on whom to see--how to get things through the Senate, at least.

Were I allowed to do that, my first suggestion would be--if they are interested in things in which this committee is interested-to see this Senator right here. Anything you want to get done in reclamation and public works, you had better see Carl Hayden, for he knows everybody in the Budget, he knows every Senator on this committee, and he knows every Representative on the same committee in the House. And don't try to beat him in anything, because he can outmaneuver you in spite of everything you can do, and there are a half-a dozen people around this table that can do the same thing.

So, if you will just advise these new fellows, if they really want to get things done in the Congress--and this doesn't mean that the President wants to see them--but if they really want to get things done in the Congress, they had better consult me.

Note: The President spoke at 2:15 p.m. in the dining room at the Department of the Interior Building. The luncheon honoring the President was attended by Members of the Senate Committee on Public Works and other Members of the Congress. In the course of his remarks, the President referred to Senator Carl Hayden of Arizona, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Harry S. Truman, Remarks at a Luncheon Given in His Honor by the Secretary of the Interior. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231362

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