Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

July 01, 1948

THE PRESIDENT. I have a statement on the so-called housing bill, which I will read to you, and it will be available for you when you go out.

[Reading] "I have today signed Senate bill 2790, 'To amend the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, as amended, and for other purposes.' 1

1 As enacted, S. 2790 is Public Law 864, 80th Congress (62 Stat. 1206).

"For reasons which are quite understandable, the Republican leaders in the House of Representatives insisted upon calling this measure a 'housing' bill. But as a housing bill, it is, as the Vice Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Housing truthfully said, 'practically nothing at all.'

"In this case, as in many others, the Both Congress has failed miserably to meet the urgent needs of the people of the United States. I consider it to be the duty of the President to inform the people as to the actual facts on these vital issues. That is why I have issued, and shall continue to issue, statements commenting on legislation passed by the Congress.

"This so-called housing bill is a hasty patchwork. It was passed by the Congress in the final hours of the session, after the Republican leadership refused to permit the House of Representatives to vote upon the Taft-Ellender-Wagner housing bill. This bill bears no resemblance to the comprehensive housing program included in the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill.

"It fails to provide for farm housing or for slum clearance.

"It fails to provide for housing research, for financial assistance to large-scale home construction, or for encouraging large-scale production of prefabricated housing.

"It fails completely to aid in meeting our greatest housing need--low-cost rental housing. It makes no provision for publicly assisted low-rent housing--or, in fact, for any rental housing.

"Contrasted with the Taft-Ellender-Wagner housing bill, this measure was properly labeled in the Congress as the 'teeny-weeny' housing bill.

"This bill does two things. First, it increases the funds available for the Government purchase of home mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration and restores the authority to purchase mortgages guaranteed under the GI act, which the Congress allowed to lapse in 1947. This is the so-called secondary mortgage market, which is designed to encourage the supply of private credit to home buyers. Second, the bill purports to liberalize the Government's authority to insure mortgages for veterans' housing cooperatives. But even in these respects the bill is seriously defective.

"With respect to the secondary mortgage market, the bill repeals the present authority of the Government to purchase FHA insured mortgages on rental properties. Thus, it actually eliminates an existing aid to urgently needed rental housing.

"With respect to veterans' housing cooperatives, the bill is practically worthless.

"It purports to aid veterans' cooperatives by authorizing the Federal Housing Administration to insure 95 percent loans to veterans' housing cooperatives. But it does not change the applicable cost limitation of $1,350 per room, established in 1938. Since builders are now having difficulty in most areas in constructing rental housing at $ 1,800 per room, a $1,350 cost limitation nullifies, as a practical matter, the legal authority given by this bill to insure loans to veterans' housing cooperatives.

"There can be no excuse for such slipshod legislation, thrown together only a few hours before adjournment. The 80th Congress had ample time to enact the housing legislation the country needs. The Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill was pending during the full term of both sessions. Exhaustive hearings were held time and time again. But the Republican leadership would not even give the House of Representatives a chance to vote on it.

"The failure to pass decent housing legislation is a sad disappointment to the millions of our people who are so desperately in need of homes, and to the many Members of Congress who tried so hard to break the stranglehold of the little group of men who blocked a decent housing bill.

"We cannot accept as final a decision reached by such undemocratic methods.

"This is one of the many jobs left unfinished by the 80th Congress."

I am ready for questions.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to call a special session of the Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. I will not comment on that at this time.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, have you taken any action on the pay raise bill?

THE PRESIDENT. . I don't know whether I signed it or not. I don't believe it has come before me yet.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, what about the atomic energy appointment bill?

THE PRESIDENT.. That has not come up to me yet. There are about 60 or 65 bills that have not come in yet. I will comment on those when they come in.

Q. Mr. President, can you give us an indication of what ones are going to get this objection that you have indicated? You say you are going to comment on them from time to time, where Congress has failed--

THE PRESIDENT.. Yes, I shall comment on them as they come up, when it will be necessary for the people to know just exactly what this Congress did to them, not for them.

Q. Yes. But I mean, you don't want to catalog them in terms--general terms now?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no. I will take them as they come. I will take them as they come. You will be informed each time with a statement, as I have been doing up to date.

[5.] Q. Have you appointed the Secretary of Labor yet, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I have not.

Q. Mr. President, are you considering John Steelman for Secretary of Labor?

THE PRESIDENT. John Steelman has been offered the job as Secretary of Labor, and he turned it down. He thinks he is more valuable where he is, and so do I.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, Senator McGrath predicts that you will be nominated on the first ballot in Philadelphia?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. McGrath is correct. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, do you have any objection to a free and open convention in Philadelphia?

THE PRESIDENT. . They have always had free and open conventions in the Democratic convention at every one I have ever attended.

Q. Are you going up to Philadelphia?

THE PRESIDENT.. I will comment on that at the time.

Q. Mr. President, what do you think of the Republican ticket?

THE PRESIDENT. I will comment on that later in the campaign. [Laughter]

Q. Well, Mr. President, what have you got left to say about Governor Warren? I thought you had spoken about him?

THE PRESIDENT. I have. I like Governor Warren. I haven't anything against Governor Dewey, except that I am going to beat him in this coming campaign.

Q. Except what, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I couldn't hear what you said.

Q. We didn't hear from "except."

THE PRESIDENT. That I am going to beat them both in this coming campaign.

Q. Mr. President, would you welcome General Eisenhower on the ticket?

THE PRESIDENT. That is up to General Eisenhower.

Q. Mr. President, did you like Mrs. Luce's advice to the Democratic Party?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't read Mrs. Luce. I don't know what she said. What was it?

Q. She suggested a running mate for you.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is up to the Democratic convention. They are going to pick the running mate for me, as they always do.

Q. Mr. President, would Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt be acceptable to you as--

THE PRESIDENT. Why, of course, of course. What do you expect me to say to that? [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, I take it you don't take seriously all this talk of a Southern revolt, and some of the Western delegates--


Q. You think you will have enough pledged delegates to win on the first ballot?


[7.] Q. Mr. President, what is your attitude toward the Soviet blockade in Berlin?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment. General Marshall expressed the attitude of this Government after a conference with me.1

1 Secretary of State Marshall's statement, released to the press on June 30, follows: "We are in Berlin as a result of agreements between the Governments on the areas of occupation in Germany, and we intend to stay. The Soviet attempt to blockade the German civilian population of Berlin raises basic questions of serious import with which we expect to deal promptly. Meanwhile, maximum use of air transport will be made to supply the civilian population. It has been found, after study, that the tonnage of foodstuffs and supplies which can be lifted by air is greater than had at first been assumed."

[8.] Q. What do you think of Marshal Tito's troubles with Moscow?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment. I know nothing about anything in that direction, except what I have seen in the papers, and I have no comment.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, what outstanding problems have you to take up with the President of Venezuela when he arrives today?

THE PRESIDENT. The President of Venezuela is paying a social call on the President of the United States, to present Bolivar, Mo., with a statute of the Liberator.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, are you planning a trip to New England and New York State?

THE PRESIDENT. I will let you know about that later.

Q. They expect you up there.

THE PRESIDENT. I will let you know about it later. You will know in plenty of time, so that you can get your clothes packed, if you want to come along.

Q. Are you expecting to miss many States on your campaign--

THE PRESIDENT. I will comment on that when the time comes.

Q. Can you tell us, Mr. President, any specific places, or about what time you will start the real campaign?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no, I can't. The Democratic convention hasn't met yet. When the Democratic convention meets and nominates the candidates and sets out the platform, then I will give you all the information you are asking for.

Q. You definitely won't retire, though, as a candidate will you?

THE PRESIDENT. . No, certainly not. That is foolish question number one. [Laughter]

Q. I'm glad it's only number one.

THE PRESIDENT. We have--I mean for this conference, Miss May.1 [More laughter]

1Mrs. May Craig of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, have you been asked to pardon Howard Fast and 11 anti-Fascists who were convicted of contempt of court?

THE PRESIDENT, The matter has never come before me at all.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and forty-ninth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:35 a.m. on Thursday, July 1, 1948.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232627

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