Statement by the President Upon Signing the Public Works Appropriation Act
I HAVE TODAY approved H.R. 6766, "Making appropriations for the Atomic Energy Commission, the Tennessee Valley Authority, certain agencies of the Department of the Interior, and civil functions administered by the Department of the Army for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1956, and for other purposes." I have approved this bill with great reluctance. There are two matters which are of deep concern to me.
The first is the reduction made in the funds available to the Atomic Energy Commission. The amount provided in the bill, together with the estimated amount carried over from 1955, would provide the Commission with total obligational authority of $1,380,847,000 for operating expenses in 1956. This amount is $144,404,000 less than was requested. A reduction of this magnitude could seriously interfere with the Commission's plans to produce atomic weapons, to develop propulsion reactors for the Navy and the Air Force, and to develop peaceful applications of atomic energy, including the production of electric power.
These are most crucial programs in maintaining a strong national defense and in maintaining this Nation's leadership in bringing the benefits of atomic energy to the service of mankind both here and abroad.
For these reasons, I would hope that the Congress would reconsider its action and make supplementary amounts available so as to avoid serious disruptions in this most vital program.
The second matter which concerns me is the large increase in the number of new construction starts for the Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. Many of these projects which have been added by the Congress have not had detailed engineering studies completed. As a result, we have no basis for determining their financial soundness and their ultimate cost to the Federal Government.
In all, one hundred and seven unbudgeted projects were added by Congress. We can only guess what their total cost to the taxpayers will ultimately be because of this lack of detailed engineering studies on many of them. The best guess that can be made at the present time is upwards of $ 1.5 billion, but when planning is completed, this guess, in the light of past experience, may well prove to be far too low. While the first-year appropriations made in this bill amount to only about $47 million, the appropriations and expenditures in future years will increase sharply and quickly reach a half-billion-dollar level.
As a consequence of these considerations, initiation of the added projects cannot be undertaken until the detailed engineering plans have been completed and we have a sound basis for cost estimates. In the case of projects involving reimbursable items, such as electric power and water supply, we must be assured that satisfactory financial arrangements have been completed for return of the Federal investment.
The public is entitled to this measure of protection to the tax dollars that go into the construction of these projects.
Note: As enacted, H.R. 6766 is Public Law 163, 84th Congress (69 Stat. 354).
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Public Works Appropriation Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233256