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Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Amending the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act.

November 08, 1966

I HAVE today signed S. 688, amending the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act to

--permit rural renewal loans to be made to local nonprofit organizations;

--authorize these loans to be made for developing and protecting recreational facilities.

These are useful changes which should enhance the effectiveness of the rural renewal program, and I commend the Congress for enacting them.

I regret, however, that the Congress did not see fit to adopt an administration recommendation that an unconstitutional provision in the Bankhead-Jones Act be eliminated.

That provision prohibits any appropriation for a single rural renewal loan in excess of $250,000 unless the loan has been approved by resolutions adopted by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.

As I pointed out in my signing statement last year on S. 2300--the omnibus rivers and harbors bill--provisions requiring committee approval such as this are repugnant to the Constitution. They represent an improper encroachment by the Congress and its committees upon executive responsibilities, and dilute and diminish the authority and powers of the Presidency. I also indicated that I could not accept such an infringement on the Office of the Presidency.

At my instruction, the Departments of the Army, Agriculture, and the Interior, and the General Services Administration submitted draft legislation to the 89th Congress to repeal several committee veto provisions contained in existing law and affecting their agencies. Also at my instruction, the objectionable procedures will not be used to submit projects to future Congresses.

The provision involved in this program is substantially the same as those I have objected to before, and it should be treated in the same manner.

Accordingly, I am instructing the Secretary of Agriculture to submit legislation to the 90th Congress to repeal the committee approval provision in the Bankhead-Jones Act, and in the meantime to refrain from making any loans which would require committee approval. That provision has not been invoked in the past and it shall not be in the future.

I urge the Congress to take prompt action next session on this legislation, as well as on the other proposals for the repeal of similar provisions.

By this statement, I do not mean to imply that I would be opposed to a reasonable reporting provision, consistent with the legislative prerogatives of the Congress and the executive prerogatives of the Office of the Presidency.

Note: As enacted, S. 688 is Public Law 89-796 (80 Stat. 1478).

For the President's statement upon signing the omnibus rivers and harbors bill, see 1965 volume, this series, Book II, Item 587.
The statement was released at San Antonio, Texas.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Amending the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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