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Statement by the President Upon Approving the Housing Act.

August 10, 1948

I HAVE today given my approval to H.R. 6959, the so-called "Housing Act of 1948."

When I addressed the special session on July 27, 1948, I strongly urged the Congress to complete action on S. 866, the comprehensive Taft-Ellender-Wagner housing bill, which had passed the Senate on April 22, 1948. The Congress has instead passed an emasculated housing bill, which fails to include several of the most important provisions of the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill.

Because the bill which was passed will be of some help in meeting the critical housing shortage, I am giving it my approval; but the people of this country should understand clearly that it falls far short of the legislation which could and should have been enacted.

The new bill fails to make any provision for low-rent public housing. It fails to make any provision for slum clearance and urban redevelopment. It fails to include any provision for special aids for farm housing. It includes only limited provision for research to bring down building costs.

In short, the Congress in enacting this bill has deliberately neglected those large groups of our people most in need of adequate housing--the people who are forced to live in disgraceful urban and rural slums.

The most astonishing part of the process by which this result was achieved is that the Members of the House of Representatives were never permitted to consider and vote on the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill. Even though all the main provisions of that bill were favorably reported by the House Committee on Banking and Currency, the Republican leaders refused to let the full membership of the House consider it.

The record shows clearly where the responsibility lies for this denial of the democratic process. As the Republican Chairman of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee stated on the floor of the Senate last Friday, the Members of the House of Representatives "have been denied by their House leadership the right to vote on the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill."

It is a matter of great regret to me, as it will be to millions of ill-housed families, that a measure which would have helped to provide them with decent housing has been blocked by the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 6959 is Public Law 901, 80th Congress (62 Stat. 1268).

For the President's statement upon signing the Housing and Rent Act of 1948, see Item 58.

Harry S. Truman, Statement by the President Upon Approving the Housing Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232732

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