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Statement About Signing the Public Buildings Amendments of 1972

June 17, 1972

I HAVE signed S. 1736, the Public Buildings Amendments of 1972, the major features of which were proposed by the Administration.

S. 1736 established a public building fund to finance construction, maintenance, and operation of Federal buildings from user charges collected from those Federal agencies which are furnished space or services by the General Services Administration. It provides 3-year authority for construction of public buildings by purchase contracts with terms of up to 30 years. It also authorizes the National Park Service to provide maintenance, security, and information services for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The requirement that agencies budget for their own space and pay user charges approximating commercial rental rates should provide an incentive for more efficient space utilization and will move agency budgets one step nearer to the goal of reflecting total program costs.

It is regrettable that S. 1736 contains two provisions which I am advised by the Attorney General are unconstitutional "coming into agreement" clauses, infringing upon the fundamental principle of the separation of legislative and executive powers.

These provisions appear in section 7 (d) of the Public Buildings Act of 1959, as amended by section 2 (4) of the bill, and in section 5 (f) of the bill.

The amended section 7(d) provides that no emergency lease authorized by that section shall be for a period of more than 180 days without approval of a prospectus for such lease by the Committees on Public Works.

Section 5(f) provides that, except for previously approved prospectuses, no purchase contract shall be entered into until a prospectus has been submitted and approved by the Committees on Public Works.

Under section 7(a) of the Public Buildings Act of 1959, as it would be amended by this bill, no appropriations may be made to construct, alter, purchase, or acquire a public building, or to lease any space at an average annual rental in excess of $500,000, until the Public Works Committees have approved GSA's prospectuses for such projects. I understand that Congress regards this "no appropriation may be made" provision as internal Congressional rulemaking which does not affect the executive branch. This Administration has acquiesced in that construction.

However, the two sections of this bill previously referred to give the General Services Administration the authority to enter into leases and purchase contracts and then condition the use of that authority on that agency's getting the approval of the Public Works Committees on prospectuses. This conditioning of the authority of the executive branch upon an action by committees of the Congress is found by the Attorney General to be an unconstitutional "coming into agreement" provision.

In signing the Second Supplemental Appropriations Act on May 27, 1972,1 I commented on the unconstitutionality of a similar clause contained in that act. I wish to emphasize, as my predecessors have done, my firm opposition to any "coming into agreement" provisions and also to indicate that I cannot act under such a provision.

1 See Item 173.

Therefore, I am directing GSA to cooperate with the Committees on Public Works in assuring full compliance with the acceptable procedures contained in section 7 (a) of the Public Buildings Act, without regard to the unconstitutional provisions I have previously referred to. Further, I am directing that agency to submit appropriate legislation to the Congress to eliminate the unconstitutional language in S. 1736.

Note: The statement was released at Key Biscayne, Fla.

As enacted, S. 1736, approved June 16, 1972, is Public Law 92-313 (86 Stat. 216).

Richard Nixon, Statement About Signing the Public Buildings Amendments of 1972 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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