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Statement by the President Upon Signing the Government Corporation Appropriation Act.

June 30, 1948

I HAVE today signed H.R. 6481, the Government Corporation Appropriation Act, 1949.

The failure of the Congress to include in this act the appropriation which I had recommended to permit the Tennessee Valley Authority to begin construction of a steam generating plant at New Johnsonville, Tenn., is an omission with such grave consequences that I hope the Congress will reconsider this question at the earliest opportunity.

It is inexcusable that there should be delay in providing the energy urgently needed to meet the growing demands of the people in this great region and vitally necessary for the requirements of national security.

In 1939--9 years ago this July--the Congress determined that there should be no wasteful competition between public and private power systems in the Tennessee Valley. It accepted the proposal worked out by TVA and the private power companies then serving the area and authorized the purchase by TVA of the facilities for power generation and transmission then in private ownership. Municipalities and rural cooperatives purchased the existing facilities for electrical distribution.

From that day an agency, of the Federal Government has produced the power and carried it over its own transmission lines to the locally-owned and managed distribution systems which deliver it to the individual consumers. As a result of that congressional decision, TVA has become the only wholesaler of power for an area of more than 80,000 square miles. Over 5 million people are entirely dependent on this great publicly owned power system to provide the electricity they need on their farms, in their homes, and in their private enterprises.

Most of the power produced by TVA comes from the huge dams which span the rivers, but like other hydroelectric systems, TVA needs auxiliary steampower to assure steadiness in the supply of energy. No new question of policy is presented by the proposal that TVA should build a steamplant at New Johnsonville. From the beginning of its operation TVA has had steam capacity on its system. A steamplant was turned over to it, together with Wilson Dam, in 1933. It purchased steamplants in 1939. It built a steamplant in 1940 with funds appropriated by the Congress, and added to that plant's capacity in 1943 and 1945. Now this new steamplant is required to balance the hydropower which has been added or is authorized for addition to its power system. While no new policy would be established by the approval of this plant, failure to permit its construction would reverse a sound and long established policy.

Everyone knows that our Nation's power supply is tight--that our margin of reserve is inadequate. In almost every part of the country increased production is being impeded and delayed by limited power capacity. Yet the House of Representatives by eliminating the appropriation for the New Johnsonville plant, which I had recommended in the budget, would prevent the power supply from keeping pace with normal peacetime requirements in an area of critical production.

Much more is at stake in this matter than peacetime power requirements, important though they are. On May 26, when the bill was before the Senate Appropriations Committee, I directed a letter to the Chairman of that Committee, transmitting a communication from the Chairman of the National Security Resources Board, and specifically urging that this appropriation be restored. It was pointed out that power from this plant is not only needed to meet the estimated normal peacetime increase in the region's demand for energy, but it is also urgently needed to meet potential national security requirements such as those of the atomic energy installation and the aluminum and chemical industries which are located in the area and are dependent on TVA for power.

The Senate did restore this appropriation. But the House of Representatives refused to agree and it was eliminated in conference.

This is a bad decision when the welfare of the people is considered. They need the power for their comfort and their prosperity. It is a foolish decision when the protection of the Government investment is considered, for the TVA system would be far less sound, from the engineering and financial viewpoint, without this steamplant, It is a reckless and irresponsible decision when the security of the Nation may be adversely affected.

The TVA is a demonstration of the ability of a democracy to conceive and execute large plans for the public welfare. It has served as an inspiration and example to the rest of the world. It is a powerful weapon in the war of ideas now being waged for the minds of the people of the world.

At the first opportunity, I shall again urge that the Congress appropriate funds so this proposed plant may be promptly constructed in order to remove a serious barrier to the continued effective, economical, and successful operation of the TVA power system.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 6481 is Public Law 860, 80th Congress (62 Stat. 1183).

For the President's letter to the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, see Item 109.

Harry S. Truman, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Government Corporation Appropriation Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232622

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