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Statement by the President Upon Approving the Public Works Appropriations Act.

December 31, 1963

I HAVE today approved the Public Works Appropriation Act.

This does not mean approval of that provision in the act which precludes the Panama Canal Company from disposing of any real property or any rights to the use of real property without first obtaining the approval of the appropriate legislative committees of the House and Senate. Four Attorneys General of the United States have held provisions of this nature unconstitutional. The opinions of the Attorneys General point out that it is either an unconstitutional delegation to Congressional committees of powers which reside only in the Congress as a whole, or an attempt to confer executive powers on the committees in violation of the principle of separation of powers set forth in the Constitution.

I concur in these views.

However, it is entirely proper for the committees to request information with respect to the disposal of property, and I recognize the desirability of consultations between officials of the executive branch and the Congress. Therefore, it is my intention to treat the provision as a request for information and to direct that the appropriate legislative committees be kept fully informed with respect to disposal and transfer actions taken by the Panama Canal Company.


Note: The statement was part of a White House release which also included the text of a memorandum from the President to the Secretary of the Army. In the memorandum, dated December 31, the President requested the Secretary to keep the appropriate legislative committees fully informed of actions taken.

The Public Works Appropriation Act, 1964, is Public Law 88-257 (77 Stat. 844).

The statement and the text of the memorandum were released at Austin, Tex.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Approving the Public Works Appropriations Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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