The President's News Conference
DROUGHT RELIEF LEGISLATION
THE PRESIDENT. I haven't anything today for publication or quotation. There is some background on the latest discussion going on about the relief bill 1 that may be of interest to you, but strictly background material.
1 Robinson amendment to the Interior Department appropriation bill (H.R. 14675).
The leaders of the House and Senate are working on a suggestion that I made last Tuesday in respect to the strengthening of the agricultural credit corporations in the drought area. Some of you will recollect that last September when we had meetings of the Governors and of the bankers from the drought States, the project was put forward then of establishing agricultural credit corporations, or more of them--there are a good many now in existence--with view to meet the heart of the difficulty for those who have ample security but where there is an inability to finance due to the failure of local banks and other difficulties in the drought territory. So that the leaders on both sides are endeavoring to develop that question as reaching to the heart of the problem. That is where people have security but where there is inadequate finance, the Secretary of Agriculture may help out in the building up of those credit corporations. That is not in the nature of compromise, because it all implies the abandonment of all charitable appropriations of all kinds and cutting out one of the primary difficulties which has arisen in the drought territory, and that is the lack of credit for people who have security but who are unable under the present circumstances to finance themselves. That, in addition to the work of the Red Cross and the other agencies, the $45 million bill, 2 should meet every corner of the problem.
2 As enacted, H.J. Res. 447, approved January 15, 1931. is Public Resolution, No. 114 (46 Stat.1039).
APPROPRIATIONS FOR PUBLIC WORKS
There is one thing in the present appropriation bills that we must not overlook--one reason for expedition. Under the setup which I arranged with the Budget this year, all of the construction programs in the Government carried the provision that the appropriations are immediately available. That was part of the whole employment setup, so that an expeditious passing of the appropriation bills all along the line in the construction work, which I think appears in at least five departments, will materially expedite our work in giving employment on public works of one kind of [or] another. So that if the leaders up there find a solution of the broad problem to get the bills immediately available, it will help us out on the unemployment side considerably.
That is all I have.
Q. Mr. President, what is the total of that construction fund again--the approximate total ?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is a little difficult to get at offhand. Construction funds embrace three different approaches. First, in the present budget sums which we are now expending. Second, are the emergency construction bills which have already passed and the authority is in the budget for 1932, in which we made the whole appropriation of the construction work immediately available. Now, if you combine all of those into the calendar year 1932 as to what the total, direct and indirect, construction expenditures will amount to--somewhere from $750 million to $775 million. As I have said before, that compares with the rate of about $275 million before the depression.
I made a statement for you just before Christmas 3 giving out an itemized statement of what those construction activities were likely to be. The appropriation bills--the deficiency bills--carry some further items. I don't know how much that would aggregate--about $25 million to $30 million.
DROUGHT RELIEF LEGISLATION
Q. Mr. President, if you will permit me to return to that relief bill, will the amount of it figure in the settlement ?
THE PRESIDENT. There is a discussion from $25 million to $15 million. It is not the amount we are worrying about--it is the question of important principle concerned. See 1930 volume, Item 423.
Q. Mr. President, in the matter of security, would that mean this year's crops could be adequate security?
THE PRESIDENT. That is a complex question. In the $45 million the loans are secured on this next year's crop. It does not follow that the loans made by the agricultural credit corporations are dependent entirely on the crop. They may be for other purposes than that. The agricultural credit corporations happened to be an avenue of financing of wider dimensions, and that is one object of opening up that avenue of crop loans on a wider and more substantial basis.
Note: President Hoover's one hundred seventy-second news conference was held in the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, February 5, 1931.
Herbert Hoover, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/207140