Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Special Message to the Congress Urging Timely Action on FHA Mortgage Loan Insurance and on the Interstate Highway Program

August 25, 1959

To the Congress of the United States:

On Wednesday of this week I shall leave for Europe on a mission important to the security and welfare of the American people. This mission will require my absence from the country for about ten days. Unavoidably, it comes while the Congress is in what may be the concluding days of a session, and while important items of legislation are under consideration.

Before I leave I should like to comment on two matters that involve Government programs now in progress which would be seriously hampered in the absence of appropriate action by the Congress.


The Congress is well aware of the important services performed by the Federal Housing Administration in insuring mortgage loans for Americans who wish to buy homes. Not all homes are purchased under FHA, but a large number are, and it is important that there be no forced reduction in its activities. Yet this is exactly what will happen if additional loan insurance authorization is not available to FHA at an early date.

The Administration has repeatedly requested the Congress to grant FHA an increase in its loan insurance authority. I renew this request, and suggest that it be passed in a separate piece of legislation. An increase in FHA's loan insurance authority should not be made contingent upon the possibility of approval by the President, after the Congress has adjourned, of legislation which contains features that the Administration finds seriously objectionable and that are entirely unrelated to FHA's home loan insurance program.


As I have repeatedly stated, there is an urgent national need for legislation to allow the Interstate Highway Program to proceed at a steady rate. Both the Congress and the Executive are justly proud of the vast highway construction program enacted in 1956. A good beginning has been made on this program, and it is inconceivable that it should be allowed now to come to a halt. For traffic safety and convenience, as well as to meet the requirements of a growing economy, it is essential that we continue to build new, modern roads.

Last January I recommended a temporary increase of 1½¢ in the Federal tax on gasoline in order to maintain the planned highway construction schedule on a pay-as-you-go basis. The recent action by the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives in approving an increase of I¢ for two years represents a step in the right direction. Although it would mean some slowing down of present construction rates, a 1 cent tax increase would allow a reasonable rate of progress to be maintained.

A small increase in the tax on gasoline is the best way to put the Interstate Highway Program on a self-supporting pay-as-you-go basis. I must express again my objection to proposals that would, in the absence of foreseeable budget surpluses, divert receipts from the General Fund of the Treasury that are collected from various excise taxes on automobiles. The transfer of these receipts to the Highway Trust Fund would only shift the fiscal problem from the Highway Trust Fund to the General Fund, which is already in precarious balance. I should also make dear that I do not favor proposals that would finance anticipated deficits in the Highway Trust Fund over the next several years by the issuance of bonds.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, Special Message to the Congress Urging Timely Action on FHA Mortgage Loan Insurance and on the Interstate Highway Program Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235261

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