Remarks at the Signing Ceremony for the Drought Relief Bill
THE PRESIDENT. For the last 2 years we have had extraordinary drought conditions in some parts of the West and Middle West. And in some of the regions in 1977 already we have had the worst drought conditions in the history of our Nation, and there are indications that drought will continue throughout this year.
Most of our American laws and relief programs are designed not for extraordinary circumstances like this where the broad-ranging geographical damage is so extensive.
Earlier this winter Senator Jackson, Congressman Meeds, and others have begun to work on comprehensive drought relief. They worked very closely with my own White House staff and with Secretary of Interior Cecil Andros. He has been out to meet with the Governors of the affected States, and I have had 'delegations come here to the White House to inform me about the extent of the drought damage.
We have now had the House and Senate very rapidly take action on this problem, and I am very glad today to sign Senate bill 925, which provides direct grants and loans for rapidly evolved irrigation programs for locally designed water projects and for some emergency loans that will tide the farmers and ranchers over in this time of drought. There is also an element of help for those who don't produce food and fiber, but who are affected in these regions, themselves.
I think the total extent of the package is almost $900 million if it's used to its fullest extent. But I am very grateful for all of those who have been so eager to help the afflicted families of these drought regions. And with a great deal of pleasure I sign the bill which has been the product of so many people's good work.
[At this point, the President signed the bill into law.]
Cecil, you might want to make a comment. The administration of this act will be under the Department of Interior.
SECRETARY ANDRUS. Mr. President, a lot of people have worked long and hard for this relief. I think you've made that point very, very well, not only yourself and the members of your staff but a lot of people that are here today and a lot of people that aren't here today.
I will just report to you and to these people that we will have the regulations ready for the [FEDERAL] REGISTER on Monday, and that's before the money will be in place, because I understand that the House didn't get the appropriations finished before the recess.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, that's good and fast work.
SENATOR FRANK CHURCH. It is unprecedented.
THE PRESIDENT. Unprecedented but true. [Laughter]
Does anybody else have a comment to make?
SENATOR CHURCH. If you had two dozen rainmakers you could provide this. It might make the bill work. [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. I hope that we'll not need all this aid and that there will be some relief in the regions that were formerly so severely affected.
But I do want to express my thanks for this additional demonstration of close support and cooperation between the White House and the Senate and the House. I think that the initiation for this proposal was in the Congress and I certainly am glad to share the credit.
REPRESENTATIVE LLOYD MEEDS. Let us return the compliment, however, and particularly to you and your staff, on the fast action coming up testifying affirmatively on it and helping us to get through some of the maze of our own procedures.
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much.
Note: The President spoke at 2:15 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.
As enacted, S. 925 is Public Law 95-18, approved April 7.
Jimmy Carter, Remarks at the Signing Ceremony for the Drought Relief Bill Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243192