Harry S. Truman photo

The President's Regular News Conference

May 16, 1946

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] The members of the Philippine War Damage Commission are: Frank A. Waring of California, John S. Young of New York, and Francisco A. Delgrado [Delgado] of the Philippine Islands.

[2.] And I think I had better read you a statement on the draft bill, copies of which will be available for you when you go out.

"As I have already said, the Draft Extension Act is bad legislation. I signed it reluctantly,1 and only because of my conviction that conditions would be worse without it. The act at least has the merit of keeping intact the draft machinery and of preserving for the time being the reemployment rights of veterans.

1On May 14 the President approved a bill extending the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, as amended, until July 1, 1946 (Public Law 379, 79th Cong., 60 Stat. 181). On June 29 he approved a bill further extending the act (Public Law 473, 79th Cong., 60 Stat. 341).

"It is to be hoped that before July 1st, when the present extension expires, the Congress will extend Selective Service for a year in a form that will meet the Nation's requirements.

"General Hershey informs me that the exemption of 18- and 19-year-old registrants will reduce the number of men who can be inducted into the Armed Forces each month, in the age group under 26, from approximately 35,000 to approximately 5,000. Eighty thousand physically and mentally acceptable 18- and 19-year-old high school students whose inductions had been postponed are now lost to the Armed Forces.

"It will be noted that Congress has restricted inductions, except of volunteers, to the age group who become 20 or who were between 20 and 30 at the time fixed for their registration. Seemingly, it was the intent of Congress to include only those who are now under 30, but the clear words of the law include as liable all men born on or subsequent to October 17, 1910, who have reached the age of 20. Thus, men up to 35 years, 7 months of age could be drafted. I cite this fact just to illustrate how loosely drawn is this law. As another example, there is nothing in the law to prohibit the reinduction of men of eligible age who have already had their war service and been discharged.

"Of course, there is no intention to draft men up to the age of 35 years, 7 months. The War Department does not want men over 30, and men over that age will not be reclassified.

"I am, however, authorizing the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy to call upon the Director of Selective Service for the induction of men who become 20 and who will not have reached the age of 30 on the date of their induction. Under present regulations, the top limit is 26. We must save what we can from the near wreckage of the Selective Service System."

Copies of that will be available for you when you go out.

[3.] I have here some reorganization plans--three reorganization plans--which I have sent down to the Congress this afternoon. All detailed and set out in short form--which will be handed to you.

The first reorganization plan confirms the transfer to the Department of State of the Office of Inter-American Affairs, already made by Executive order of the 10th of April.

The Office of the United States High Commissioner of the Philippines is abolished-its affairs to be liquidated by the Department of State, because the Philippines become independent July 4th.

Treasury Department--confirms the transfer by the Executive order of 1943, from Justice to the Treasury, of certain minor functions.

Then the Department of Agriculture functions of eight research bureau agencies, consolidated by an Executive order of 1942 in Agricultural Research, are transferred to the Secretary of Agriculture.

The Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, Contract Settlement, is transferred to OWMR and abolished.

National Housing Agency--consolidated permanently in one agency the main housing activities of the Government. Lack of permanent status has handicapped NHA operations-fully recognize that the Wagner-Ellender-Taft bill, S.1592, approved by the Senate in April, and now pending in the House, provides, among other things, for a Permanent housing organization along the same line. This reorganization follows along the Wagner-Ellender-Taft bill.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-makes permanent transfer to FDIC, by Executive order of 1942.

Then the second reorganization plan follows along the same lines, as does the third one.

All these reorganization plan things will be available for you after the press conference, as many as want them.

These are all the announcements I have to make.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, can we retrace a little your draft statement? What that means is that now you are authorizing Selective Service, through the War and Navy Departments, to draft men between 20 and 30?

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct. That's correct.

Q. That abolishes the present limit of 26

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct. It will have to be done, if we are

Q.--to 26--

THE PRESIDENT. --20--18 to 26--

Q.--before the--

THE PRESIDENT. Before the law--

Q. But under the extension--

THE PRESIDENT. Under the extension, the way it is now, we wouldn't get anybody, to speak of. So we have got to arrange someway to get men to fill the necessary requirements of the War and Navy Departments.

Q. Do you know approximately how many men will be available?

THE PRESIDENT. I do not. We haven't had time to make a survey.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, I understand that the railroad negotiations have broken down. Are you-

THE PRESIDENT. No. We are still working on that. I have nothing to say about that at this time. Still working on it.

Q. John D. Small, Civil Production man, has called for legislation outlawing strikes for the next 6 months at least. I was just wondering what comment you have on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make at all. That's the first I've heard of it.

Q. First you've heard ?

[6.] Q. Is Secretary Byrnes being considered for the Supreme Court?

THE PRESIDENT. Not at the present time. He is Secretary of State.

Q. Mr. President, may I ask another Supreme Court question?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly.

Q. The local paper today says you are considering Chief Justice Gibson of California very seriously.

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment.

Q. Has that been brought to your--

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make.

Q. Mr. President, along the same lines, are you considering somebody from outside the Supreme Court for Chief Justice?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on that. I will consider everybody that has been presented to me, or talked about.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, have you a fixed view on use of the veto of the Case bill, if the Senate passes it?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no views on it at all. I will not express an opinion on it until it is before me for consideration, because you don't know what developments in the Senate are likely to be.

Q. Mr. President, there have been several stories recently, to the effect that you were considering waiting for the end of this session before you took any action. Could you comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, are you considering Edwin Pauley for Ambassador to China?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, some food officials and some United Nations officials indicate pretty clearly that you have been in contact with Marshal Stalin on the food problem, and may have received a reply from him. Is that correct, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on that. I have been in touch with him, but I do not want to comment on it at the present time.

Q. May we expect something later?

THE PRESIDENT, I hope so.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, dispatches from China indicate that General Marshall's patient efforts to bring the Communists and the Kuomintang together have not been rewarded. Would you care to comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. I'll wait until I hear from General Marshall, then I will comment on it.

Q. How much longer will he stay over there?

THE PRESIDENT. As long as it's necessary, and as long as there's any possibility of a job being done.

Q. A number of dispatches, sir, said that his mission had been a failure up to this point?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think that is true at all.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, returning to the draft for a moment. In view of the rather difficult situation, I would like to ask a question: Are there plans available or being drafted as to what sort of long-term army we expect to have--a professional army or a drafted army, and so forth? Is that in the works at all?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. It has been in the works ever since the 18th of August last year.

Q. Can you give us any--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I cannot. Still working on it. I have no comment to make on that. I have to have action from down the street before I can arrive at a real program.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, you still have hope that the railroad differences can be worked out--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have.

Q. --in time to prevent a strike?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope so.

Q. Mr. President, when will--

Q. Are you communicating with both sides?

THE PRESIDENT. One at a time, please.

[13.] Q. When will you sign the housing bill--Federal emergency housing bill?

THE PRESIDENT. Whenever it comes to me.

Q. Isn't it here now?

THE PRESIDENT. Not yet.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, what was the third name on that War Damage Commission?

THE PRESIDENT. Francisco A. Delgado-D-e-l-g-a-d-o. I think I put an "r" in when I read it.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything you can say for the benefit of Members of both Houses on the Hill regarding your attitude on pending labor legislation?

THE PRESIDENT. I think I have made that very, very plain on various occasions. I don't see any reason for further comment on it.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. La Guardia yesterday indicated that UNRRA information shows that the United States may have 40 percent less wheat shipments for May-600,000 tons instead of a million tons which we have programmed. Are you considering any steps to accelerate that goal?

THE PRESIDENT. Why certainly. That is why we have the Combined Food Board. That is why we have all these people traveling around trying to work the thing out. And I think if you will be just a little patient we will give you a little more information a little later, so that conditions are not as bad from the point of view of the United States as they have been painted. The United States is doing all it possibly can in this emergency, and more than any other country that is doing it, I will say that.

[17.] Q. How bad is the coal situation right now?

THE PRESIDENT. I will comment on it further after my next interview. I said all I had to say this morning.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, have you communicated with both sides in the railroad situation--

THE PRESIDENT. I have.

Q. --since they reported to you this morning?

THE PRESIDENT. They didn't report to me this morning. They were not to report to me until tomorrow.

Q. The unions told us that they reported by telephone their inability to agree.

THE PRESIDENT. They didn't report to me.

Q. Not personally?

THE PRESIDENT. No.

Q. In the light of that, you still hope they can settle--

THE PRESIDENT, I do.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, the morning paper said that Raymond McKeough is headed for the chairmanship of the Maritime Commission.

THE PRESIDENT. I appointed him temporary Chairman this morning.

Q. Will that change the status of Admiral Mills?

THE PRESIDENT. Admiral Mills' name has never been sent to the Senate, and won't be, on account of the controversy which the Commerce Committee got into over Admiral Mills. I sent down Admiral Smith in place of Admiral Mills.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, would you favor removing the ceilings on dairy products to increase production?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't favor removing the ceilings on any products as long as they are short.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, would you say at this time what is holding up the implementation of the Acheson report on international control--

THE PRESIDENT. Nothing is holding it up.

Q. Senator McMahon is waiting to hold hearings--

THE PRESIDENT. Nothing is holding it up at all. It's under discussion. The United Nations committee--commission--whatever you want to call it--is going to meet on the 20th of June for further discussion, and see if they can arrive at a program.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, I understand, as I remember a week or so ago, you said you might--you might be forced, if necessary, to seize the railroads if necessary to keep them running?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right. That still stands.

Q. If they don't settle this strike before the deadline, do you plan to seize them?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly.

Q. When?

[23.] Q. Mr. President, is there any truth to the report that you are considering Senator Warren G. Magnuson for Under Secretary of the Navy?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make. That's the first I've heard of it.

[24.] Q. Mr. President, on the coal strike, if that is not settled, would you consider seizing the coal mines?

THE PRESIDENT. I will cross that bridge-as I told you the other day--when I come to it.1

1 on May 21 the President issued Executive Order 9728 "Authorizing the Secretary of the Interior To Take Possession of and To Operate Certain Coal Mines" (3 CFR, 1943-1948 Comp., p. 539).

Q. Mr. President, that question about the railroads, sir, mentioned--

THE PRESIDENT. Wait a minute--let's see-this fellow started back there. What was it you wanted to ask?

[25.] Q. Are you authorizing Secretary of State Byrnes to make any comment yet on the Paris peace conference?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Byrnes, when he arrives, will make the comment on the Paris peace conference.

[26.] Q. That question--last question about the railroad strike reaching the deadline, you answered that certainly you would seize them. Is the deadline for that their strike call, or your Friday reporting time?

THE PRESIDENT Well, I will settle that when it becomes necessary. I hope it won't become necessary.

[27.] Q. Mr. President, in connection with the coal settlement this morning, is the report true that--as told by some White House talkers--that at your first conference with John L. Lewis he said he would have to have a little strike of about 5 days?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no further comment to make, except what was in the statement this morning.

[28.] Q. Mr. President, could you tell us anything about Mr. Bowles' visit yesterday and today?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Bowles was in to see me on regular business, which he has a right to do every day, if he likes.

Q. When he left, he said he hadn't done anything. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. We discussed the usual things that we talk about when I talk to Mr. Bowles.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's sixty-fifth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 16, 1946.

Harry S. Truman, The President's Regular News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231873

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