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Statement by the President Upon Approving Bills for River and Harbor Improvement and for Flood Control.

July 24, 1946

I HAVE TODAY approved two bills, H.R. 6407 and H.R. 6597, authorizing the construction of river and harbor improvements. One of these bills is what is generally known as a River and Harbor Bill and authorizes projects primarily for the improvement of navigation, while the other is a Flood Control Bill. Both bills, however, authorize projects that would include other developments of rivers, including irrigation, water supply, and hydroelectric power development. The River and Harbor Bill authorizes projects which are estimated to have an ultimate cost of $945,000,000. The Flood Control Bill authorizes works estimated to cost $952,000,000, Of which $772,000,000 is for projects under the jurisdiction of the War Department. These two bills bring the authorized backlog of river improvement work under jurisdiction of the War Department to approximately five billion dollars. Assuming that this estimate of five billion dollars is accurate, and experience would indicate that it is probably low, and assuming the new work can be prosecuted at the 1947 appropriation rate, it will take 35 years to bring to completion the river and harbor projects and 20 years to complete the flood control projects now authorized.

In consonance with the intent of Congress as indicated in its consideration of these two bills, I take them to be primarily authorizations to enable the War Department to plan its future programs soundly, and I understand that there is no expectation of early appropriations. I do not intend to request funds for any of these projects during the current fiscal year. Financing, whenever made, must be based on budgetary requirements for that period.

Furthermore there are many unanswered questions in connection with the projects authorized by the two bills I have just signed. These questions must be satisfactorily answered before the construction authorized is initiated. I do not intend to approve any requests for appropriations or allocations of funds for the construction of any of these projects until all the important questions concerning them have been satisfactorily resolved, and until all of the Federal agencies directly concerned are substantially agreed upon the technical features involved.

With a shelf of projects that will take us many years to complete, it is obvious that we must give careful consideration to which projects are undertaken first. Accordingly, in connection with the preparation of budget estimates, the program must be reexamined annually so as to determine the present estimated cost and the present economic merits of the projects proposed for inclusion in that year's program.

For some years the majority of these authorized projects must be deferred. As to the more immediate future, I repeat what I said when the Director of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion issued his seventh report, that Government expenditures will be reduced and deferrable construction and public works projects using Federal funds will be studied with a view to saving strategic materials and to diminishing inflationary pressures.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 6407 is Public Law 525, 79th Congress (60 Stat. 634); H.R. 6597 is Public Law 526, 79th Congress (60 Stat. 641).

Harry S Truman, Statement by the President Upon Approving Bills for River and Harbor Improvement and for Flood Control. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231901

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