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Special Message to the Congress Resubmitting Legislative Proposals

January 26, 1971

To the Congress of the United States:

This first special message to the Ninety-second Congress concerns itself not with the new, but with the familiar. As indicated in my State of the Union Message, this first request is that the unfinished business of the Ninety-first Congress be made the first business of the Ninety-second.

With this message, I am proposing to the Ninety-second Congress more than three dozen items of legislation which were previously submitted to the Ninety-first Congress. Some were acted on favorably by either the Senate or the House of Representatives. Some are being resubmitted in their original form. Others have been modified to meet legitimate concerns expressed by members of the Congress. Most will be in the hands of Congress today. All are bills which I consider to be in the national interest.

Although lengthy, this list does not contain all the measures proposed over the past two years which will be resubmitted to the Congress in this session.

There are other measures--measures to deal with strikes creating national emergencies, Social Security amendments, bail reform, aid for higher education, reform of the draft and steps to move toward an all-volunteer armed force, and other initiatives-which the Congress must also consider. I will deal with these separately.

In my message on the State of the Union, I outlined six great goals--goals which, by their accomplishment, could make this the greatest Congress in America's history as a nation.

These included one especially urgent item of unfinished business which I proposed to the 91st Congress: welfare reform. In fairness :to the taxpayers, to the communities, and also to the children, we can afford to delay no longer in discarding the present system and replacing it with a new one.

In due course, I will be making more detailed proposals to the Congress for achieving the other goals that I outlined. Meanwhile, I believe that the items of unfinished business I propose today merit the prompt and careful consideration of the Congress. I believe they are good measures. I believe they are wise proposals. I believe they are necessary legislation. I urge the Congress to act favorably upon them.


Two proposals being resubmitted would promote economic justice. One would provide broader opportunities for Americans entering into new small businesses--specially black Americans and members of other minorities who need, but cannot acquire, the seed capital to go into business for themselves. The other would provide improved benefits for certain American workers.


Ten months ago, several proposals were sent to the Congress to promote the prospects for success of small businesses in the United States. They included:

--Allowing private and corporate lenders an income tax deduction equal to twenty percent of the interest earned on Small Business Administration guaranteed loans, which would act as an incentive for loans to small businesses and minority enterprises;

--Providing managerial training to disadvantaged persons going into business for themselves;

--Authorizing banks to become sole sponsors of Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Companies (MESBICs);

--Authorizing SBA to pay interest subsidies on loans it guarantees, in cases of demonstrated need;

--Liberalizing the net operating loss carryover rules and stock option provisions for qualified small businesses;

--Allowing tax deduction for contributions to nonprofit MESBICs. Many of these amendments passed the Senate in the 91st Congress. I urge this Congress to give them a favorable response.


The existing minimum disability compensation for longshoremen and harbor workers was established in 1956--the maximum a decade ago. I am renewing the admininistration's proposal that these benefits be increased to a level more in line with the increased wages and living costs since the present levels were set. Other liberalizing provisions of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act are being resubmitted as part of this proposal.

Under this legislation the recovery of damages by employees from their employers, including shipowners, would be limited to those specified under the Act. We seek to eliminate situations in which longshoremen are permitted to recover damages in suits against shipowners, which usually require the longshore employer to indemnify the shipowner for the damages paid.


There are three groups of peoples, two of them among the earliest inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, to whom this nation has outstanding obligations that ought to be met.


The first two of these are the American Indians and the Alaska Natives. After full consultation with Indian leaders is complete, the unenacted legislation outlined in my Message of last July 8 will be reviewed and promptly submitted again. An Alaska Native Claims bill will also be submitted which I believe will equitably resolve the Native claims in that State. These legislative proposals would take America in a new more hopeful direction in dealing with the problems of a terribly neglected minority of our people.


Under the Executive Agreement of April 18, 1969 between Japan and the United States, inhabitants of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands are to be compensated for damages suffered during World War II. The agreement stipulates that each government will make ex gratia contributions of $5 million for the welfare of the people of Micronesia.

I am renewing the administration's request that the Congress authorize appropriations of $5 million to meet that commitment, and also that the Congress establish a five-member commission to settle the claims of individual Micronesians resulting from World War II and to determine the validity of additional claims for property damage arising after the war.

Congressional action on these matters would render overdue justice to the people of Micronesia.


Two pieces of "preventive" legislation are being resubmitted dealing with the health of the American people. The first has to do with the wholesomeness of fish and fish products which form so significant a segment of the American diet; the second with preventing illness and death from accidental misuse of prescription drugs.


Fish and fish products, a major source of protein in the American diet, are highly perishable foods. Improperly handled, they become a medium for bacterial growth. The Wholesome Fish and Fishery Products Act, which is being resubmitted, would establish a broad surveillance and inspection system to assure the wholesomeness and quality of both domestic and imported fishery products.

Recent reports of mercury residues in both inland and deep sea fish provide urgent and concurring arguments for immediate passage of this legislation.


Every year some Americans, in times of medical emergency, are poisoned by drugs of unidentified composition. Some of these men, women, and children die from these poisonings; others suffer lasting physical harm. While these occurrences are not commonplace, their number can and should be reduced to an absolute minimum. To achieve that objective--to permit the rapid identification of prescription drugs in emergency situations--this administration again proposes the coding of all drugs. Such coding will also facilitate recalls of drugs when necessary to protect public health.

Some manufacturers already use coding systems for immediate identification and inventory control. A universal system of coding of drugs would benefit the entire drug industry--and perhaps save the lives of scores of Americans and their children in years ahead.


Within this broad category, I again urge action on five previously submitted measures. One of them would provide new and needed protection for the orderly processes of government in the event of disruptive activities conducted in or near Federal offices. Passed by the Senate, this measure should be viewed favorably by the House. It is needed to protect government workers as they carry out their duties. The wagering tax and the administration's proposal to give law enforcement officers the right to gather non-testimonial evidence are reforms which would provide us with new weapons in the war against crime. The final proposals, dealing with obscenity and pornography, I believe to be essential at a time when the tide of offensive materials seems yet to be rising.


If the Federal Government is to discharge its duties, the employees of government must cease being victimized by raucous and disorderly demonstrations in the offices where they work. Such disruptions have occurred too frequently in recent years.

To help end this harassment, I propose that the General Services Administration's authority to police Federal property be extended to all buildings leased or occupied by Federal agencies.

Further, I ask Congress to prohibit specifically:

--The obstruction of passage into or out of a government office;

--The use of loud, abusive, or threatening language, or any disorderly conduct that has as its goal the disruption of government business; and,

--Any act of physical violence within a GSA facility. These are similar to the safeguards which the Congress provided for its own employees in the U.S. Capitol Buildings and Grounds Security Act of 1967.

Under this proposal the maximum penalties for violation of the rules promulgated by GSA would be raised from a $50 fine or thirty days in jail to a $500 fine or six months in prison.

Passage of this legislation would help divert future protests back into the legitimate democratic channels where they belong.


The Federal wagering tax can be a useful tool in our increasingly successful effort against organized crime. Some of its provisions, however, were ruled unconstitutional in 1968 as violative of the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Both to retain this needed weapon and to bring the law into accord with the rulings of the Supreme Court, I again propose a prohibition on any use-against the taxpayer--of information obtained through his compliance with this statute. At the same time, the new amendments would broaden the coverage of the wagering tax and increase the level of taxation.


Currently, law enforcement officers are often handicapped in obtaining significant non-testimonial evidence--such as blood samples or fingerprints--in a way to qualify it for use as legal evidence. Under this proposal, a judicial officer could, under prescribed conditions, issue an order requiring that a suspect give such kinds of evidence. This is a constitutionally sound step that would advance the cause of criminal justice without infringing upon any of the legitimate rights of suspects and defendants.


The overwhelming majority of Americans is rightly appalled at the burgeoning growth of the pornography industry here in the United States. Though Court rulings have restricted some government countermeasures, in other instances they have left us the freedom to act. They have both recognized the right to protect minors from the products of this obnoxious enterprise, and reaffirmed the right to restrict pandering through advertising. I propose anew that Congress pass measures, with stiff penalties, prohibiting the use of interstate facilities to transport unsolicited salacious advertising, or to deliver any harmful and offensive matter to youngsters. It would be difficult to overstate the strength of my support for these two pieces of legislation.


Under this broad category, I have included three measures submitted to the Ninety-first Congress, all of which I believe have great merit and would serve great needs. The first is for a National Institute of Education, the need for which is becoming increasingly apparent; the second is a measure to provide financial assistance to those school districts carrying the strain of desegregation; the third is to encourage and assist the men coming home from Vietnam to make better use of the educational opportunity the country affords them. Higher education proposals will be resubmitted later to the new Congress.


A National Institute of Education--to bring to education the intensity and quality of research now developed in the fields of space and health--is truly a national need. Year by year, the American people grow more disenchanted with the returns on their education tax dollars. The schools of the nation are in growing need of new counsel and new ideas. Here is the opportunity to find the answers, by bringing to bear on the problems the wisdom, the knowledge and the experience of the most able men and women in the field. This Institute was a key part of my education proposals of last year. Today I again urge the Congress to act favorably upon this request.


Last year, both to encourage and to expedite desegregation of the public schools in the United States, I asked the Congress for a two-year Emergency School Aid Act. Although great progress has been made, the need for such aid remains. Therefore, today I reissue this request. The changes needed to desegregate our schools--either under court order or through voluntary action--place a heavy strain upon local school systems, and the Federal Government should assist the school systems in this effort. The measure I propose today is similar to the one which passed the House of Representatives in the closing days of the Ninety-first Congress. I urge the Congress to complete action at an early date.


It is this administration's hope that more veterans coming home from Vietnam will take advantage of the educational opportunities the nation affords them. The bill I now again recommend will help achieve that objective.

Under the GI Bill, the monthly allowances received by veterans begin only after they have enrolled and completed at least a month of their education or training. This deferral of payment often deters veterans from taking training or additional schooling because they lack the initial funds to meet tuition and living expenses.

This legislation would enable the Veterans Administration to make advance payments to veterans as soon as they submit evidence they have registered. This will provide them with funds when their need for funds is most pressing.


Two proposals being resubmitted deal with the nation's capital. The first envisions a corporation to carry out the revitalization of the heart of Washington. The second would give the District Government a new measure of freedom and control over its own capital outlay programs, reducing District dependency on the Federal Government.


The American Bicentennial midway through the present decade--presents a powerful incentive and a realistic deadline for realization of Pierre L'Enfant's vision for the Federal City. The proposal being resubmitted would create a public corporation to prepare plans for carrying forward the revitalization of the heart of Washington, and for generating the maximum private and commercial investment for the fulfillment of that dream. I urge the Congress not to allow any more time to be lost in completing this promising enterprise.


Currently, when the District of Columbia Government is confronted with the need to borrow for major new building and construction, it must turn to the United States Treasury; and it can borrow only up to a temporary formula limit set by the Congress.

I now renew this administration's proposal that the Congress grant the District of Columbia Government the authority to issue its own local bonds, and that the future limit on borrowing be set according to a permanent flexible formula based on District revenues. Removing the District's capital spending requirements from the Federal budget would mean savings to the Treasury. Further, it would give Washington responsibilities and rights commensurate with those of other great American cities.


Under this heading, two proposals are being resubmitted. They relate to waterways safety, the need for which has become increasingly apparent as more and more great vessels ply the navigable waters of the United States. Decreasing accidents at sea is an important part of our overall program to provide greater safety to the traveling public. In addition, these bills enhance our efforts to prevent the damaging pollution of the Nation's waterways which often results from collisions at sea.


As commerce grows, and as world trade expands, more and more great ships use American waters. Many carry hazardous cargoes--potential dangers to America's ports, harbors, waterfront areas, the waters themselves and the resources they contain. There would, I believe, be a substantial benefit in the creation of a coordinated safety program. And I again ask that the Secretary of Transportation be empowered to prescribe standards and regulations, and to act upon them, to give the protection the nation increasingly needs.


With the increasing number of vessels operating on inland and coastal waterways, the danger of accidents and collisions has become more serious. To help prevent unnecessary loss of life and property in future years, I am again proposing to the Congress legislation requiring that certain vessels transiting these waterways carry equipment for direct bridge-to-bridge contact. While most vessels today carry radio equipment, there is not always a compatible and open communication channel between two ships--and hence, they often cannot communicate even the most basic navigational information. Many vessels are already adequately equipped to meet the new requirements; the cost to the remaining shipowners would not be great.


Two measures again being proposed concern Americans living in the countryside or on farms. One would establish a mixed-ownership bank to make loans to telephone borrowers, along the lines of the Farm Credit Administration; the other would reduce Federal expenditures by replacing direct loans to some farmers with government guaranteed loans.


I propose creation of a mixed-ownership bank to make loans--at from 4 percent to market interest rates--to telephone companies and cooperatives which now rely almost exclusively on the Rural Electrification Administration for their financing.

The bank would be partially capitalized through Treasury purchase of stock at a rate of up to $30 million annually until the Treasury holdings reached $300 million.

When total capital stock plus paid-in surplus reached $400 million, the bank would begin to retire the Federal investment. Further, the bank would be empowered to sell stock to its borrowers, and to borrow from private investors up to eight times the paid-in capital and retained earnings of the bank. This could bring about bank loans during Fiscal Year 1972 of $94.5 million to telephone borrowers--and the 1972 budget assumes timely enactment of this legislation.


This proposal would permit the Farmers Home Administration to substitute insured for direct loans to farmers up to a level of $275 million for the coming fiscal year.

This could reduce Treasury outlays by $275 million, while leaving a Federal guarantee for the loans. It is consistent with our belief in maximum use of the private sector in achieving public purposes, and its enactment is assumed in our 1972 Budget.


A number of proposals being resubmitted deal with the smoother, more efficient and more responsive operation of the Federal Government. They argue for themselves on their own considerable merits.


First, I urge the Congress to enact legislation permitting the President to merge related Federal assistance programs, subject to Congressional review and concurrence. This authority, similar to presidential power to reorganize the Executive Branch, would be a vital part of our total effort to simplify the Federal system and make the delivery of goods and services at the regional, State and local level more effective. The consolidation of programs will make possible broader and more flexible use of funds and facilitate program administration at all levels of government. Originally submitted almost two years ago, this request for authority is thoroughly in keeping with the administration's unprecedented revenue sharing proposals contained in my State of the Union Message. The time has come to move on this bill.


Often when States, communities or even individuals apply for Federal grants, the funds must be drawn from more than a single agency. To answer these requests more quickly, more simply and more efficiently, I recommend that the Congress authorize Federal agencies to pool certain related funds--and to adopt common administrative procedures, to be carried out by a lead agency. The House passed this joint funding measure last year. I again urge both Houses to act favorably upon it early in the Ninety-second Congress.


This proposal would authorize the Atomic Energy Commission to collect license fees from any other government agency engaged in generating electric power on the same basis it now charges other electric utility systems for licensing nuclear power plants. The cost of a license for a nuclear power plant is part of the cost of doing business. Thus, it is appropriate that Federal power agencies should be placed on the same footing.


Under Reorganization Plan No. 9 of 1950, the President was given authority to designate the Chairman of the Federal Power Commission. However, because the basic statute has not been amended to accord precisely with that plan, the President's authority is not crystal clear. This resulted, some time ago, in certain ambiguities when one of my predecessors sought to designate a new FPC Chairman. The Ninety-first Congress was urged to clarify this situation, and I now request that the Ninety-second Congress enact the necessary clarifying legislation.


The Federal Power Commission has asked the Congress for broader authority to gather and publish information on the natural gas industry. This would benefit the industry, its consumers and investors, government agencies and the Congress itself, as well as enable the FPC to exercise more effectively its own regulatory powers. The proposal is comparable to existing provisions of the Federal Power Act concerning the electric power industry-and in no way would it expand the regulatory responsibilities of the FPC. I urge the Congress to act favorably upon this request.


Last year, in extending the Defense Production Act, the Congress established a Cost Accounting Standards Board-and then placed that Board under the authority of the Legislative Branch.

This Board is responsible for establishing cost accounting standards, rules and regulations for use by defense contractors and subcontractors. Since these standards necessarily affect the negotiation and administration of government contracts, and since government contracts are the responsibility of the Executive Branch under the Constitution, placing this board under the Legislative Branch violates the fundamental principle of the separation of powers.

On August 17, 1970, we asked Congress to remedy this situation. With this message I am reissuing that request.


Under the Defense Production Act, the nation's industrial capacity is expanded and critical materials are produced and allocated in times of national emergency. I now renew the administration's proposal that this Act be extended for another two years and needed changes be made. These include:

--A new method of financing the production expansion provisions.

--Elimination of the unnecessary and undesirable restriction on guaranteed transactions imposed last year.

--Authority for the President to make adjustments in civilian pay and personnel administration to assure the effective functioning of government agencies in a civil defense emergency.


Proposed legislation will be resubmitted which would authorize GSA to sell off from the government's stockpiles quantities of sixteen commodities which we now hold in excess of our needs for national security. The sales would bring substantial returns to the Treasury. In the near future, new legislation will be submitted to the Congress for authority to dispose of other commodities--authority which I urge the Congress to grant as consistent with both sound government and a sound economic policy.


Millions of dollars in U.S. currency and silver certificates issued since 1929 have been lost or destroyed, or are held permanently in collections--and will never be presented for redemption. I now renew the administration's proposal that the Department of the Treasury be authorized to write off these Federal Reserve bank notes and national bank notes, and to remove the limitation of $200 million on such write-offs. In anticipation of favorable Congressional action, the Fiscal Year 1972 budget reflects these write-offs as a receipt of $228 million.


Three separate reforms can be made in veterans' programs which would lift an unwarranted burden from the general taxpayer without in any way diminishing the legitimate rights or privileges of veterans. I am again asking the Congress to enact them, along with a proposal to facilitate sale of direct loans by the Veterans Administration.


The first deals with the veterans burial allowance which runs to $250. This allowance was established before the existence of other Federal programs--such as social security and railroad retirement--which often provide similar or greater burial benefits to the same eligible veterans. The legislation proposed would eliminate duplication by limiting the Veterans Administration's burial payment to the difference between $250 and the non-VA burial payment.


Secondly, some veterans are still receiving disability compensation for tuberculosis long after the disease has reached a stage of complete arrest. The Congress has enacted legislation prohibiting future awards of compensation for arrested tuberculosis, recognizing that such awards no longer reflect medical reality. However, those on the rolls before that law was enacted continue to receive monthly payments, although their disease has been cured. This preferential treatment of a relatively few veterans should be terminated.


My third proposal deals with the cost of caring in VA hospitals for veterans who have non-service connected ailments and who have private health insurance.

Generally, veterans who are over 65 or have war-time service, and who state that they cannot afford hospitalization, are entitled to VA care on a bed-available basis.

In many cases, the private insurance could pay part or all of the cost of hospitalization. But the insurance contracts often bar reimbursement to a veteran hospitalized in a VA hospital. This represents both an unwarranted windfall to the insurance company, and an unnecessary burden on the Federal Treasury.

Veterans should not be barred from receiving care in a VA hospital. But there is no reason why insurance companies should not reimburse the Federal Government in the same manner in which they pay a non-Federal private hospital. The proposed legislation will correct this discriminatory situation.


Under present law, the Veterans Administration can sell direct loans from its portfolio only if the price received is at least 98 percent of par. Recent market conditions have resulted in prices below that level and this proposal would remove the statutory price limitation, allowing the Veterans Administration, when necessary, to sell loans if "reasonable prices" prevail.


Two of my proposals deal with a more equitable allocation of user costs of transportation services. Under one proposal, the cost of providing security against aircraft hijackers would be borne by the passengers themselves and not by the general public. Under the other, the large trucks which use our national highway system would be made to bear a more appropriate share of the cost of highway construction.


The number of airline hijackings that seemed to be taking place almost daily months ago has been reduced. Partly, this is due to the civil air and ground security program, particularly the sky marshals, established by the Federal Government. This program should be continued and strengthened--but its cost should be borne, not by the entire tax-paying public, but by the airline users themselves. For that reason I urge approval of legislation the administration is resubmitting to provide for an increase of one-half of one percent in the eight percent airline passenger ticket tax, and for an additional charge of $2 to be added to the present $3 departure tax on all international flights. Those who use our airlines are the principal beneficiaries of this new security service, and it is appropriate, therefore, that they should bear the cost.


Believing that the burden of highway taxes should be more equitably distributed between larger trucks and smaller vehicles and automobiles, I again ask that the Federal tax on diesel fuel be raised from four cents per gallon to six cents, and that the present $3 per thousand pounds annual use tax on trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds, be changed to a graduated tax schedule ranging from $3.50 to $9.50 per thousand pounds. This new tax would be applied only to those truck combinations weighing in excess of 26,000 pounds.


Finally, I urge passage of several measures which are being resubmitted dealing with the immigration policies of the United States, and with American contributions to international banks to assist the economic development of friendly nations.


To improve our immigration laws and to enlarge upon our national tradition as an open nation and an open society, legislation is being resubmitted which would, among other reforms, provide:

--A higher percentage of immigrant visas for professionals, needed workers and refugees.

--Additional visas for the Western hemisphere, with special provisions for our nearest neighbors, Mexico and Canada.

Further, to encourage travel and tourism in the United States, the requirement for a visa would be waived for all business and pleasure visits of ninety days or less by nationals of countries designated by the Secretary of State.


In recent years, the benefits of increased multilateral aid to developing countries have become more and more manifest. Multilateral aid enables a pooling of the assistance of the donor nations; it reduces political frictions inherent in some bilateral programs; it strengthens international institutions; it is preferred by many recipient nations.

Thus, I again urge the Congress to authorize $ 100 million in United States contributions to the Special Fund of the Asian Development Bank, and $900 million to the corresponding fund of the Inter-American Development Bank. The former will enable the nations of free Asia to assume greater responsibility for the success of their own development. The latter, along with the $100 million first installment authorized by the last Congress, will make possible significant advances in the economic development of the hemisphere, in which we ourselves have so vital a stake, and also give substance to the partnership of the Americas.

To the veterans of the Ninety-first Congress, the measures proposed once again in this message will of course be familiar. In the case of many of them, the work begun by the Ninety-first Congress should aid prompt consideration by the Ninety-second. Each is worthy, and by moving promptly and favorably on these matters of unfinished business this Congress will make an auspicious beginning on what could become a record of splendid achievement.


The White House

January 26, 1971

Note: On the same day, the White House released a fact sheet on 40 bills being resubmitted to the 92d Congress.

Richard Nixon, Special Message to the Congress Resubmitting Legislative Proposals Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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