Veto of Bill To Amend the Public Health Service Act.
To the House of Representatives:
I return herewith, without my approval, the bill, H.R. 1026, "To amend the Public Health Service Act, with respect to the provisions of certain medical and dental treatment and hospitalization for certain officers and employees of the former Lighthouse Service, and for dependents and widows of officers and employees of such Service."
From 1910 to July 1939, the Lighthouse Service was manned by civilian personnel. On July 1, 1939, under a Reorganization Plan, the Lighthouse Service was absorbed by the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard put into uniform those employees of the former Lighthouse Service who were willing and qualified to accept military appointments. Those employees who wanted to remain civilians were allowed to do so.
This enactment would extend entitlement to medical care and hospitalization at Public Health facilities under certain circumstances to a number of categories of former Lighthouse Service employees, their dependents, and widows. The bill, however, by according such benefits to one group of Federal employees alone, would discriminate against the vast body of Federal workers. In fact, under the enactment, situations would arise in which former Lighthouse Service employees working side by side with other Federal employees and doing exactly the same type of work would enjoy benefits to which their fellow civil servants would not be entitled. H.R. 1026 would also discriminate against uniformed personnel of the Coast Guard, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, and the Public Health Service. It would establish a statutory entitlement to benefits for the widows of former Lighthouse Service personnel which are not provided generally to the widows of the uniformed personnel enumerated above.
Moreover, the enactment would constitute an unfortunate precedent. Other groups not now entitled to the benefits which would be granted by H.R. 1026 would justifiably consider themselves entitled to benefits comparable to those which would be accorded to the former Lighthouse Service personnel.
I wish to reiterate my strong support for a program of contributory medical care and hospitalization insurance, on a voluntary basis, for Federal employees generally. Such a program would aid Federal employees in meeting their medical and hospital needs and would be fair and equitable to all concerned. Moreover, it would be consistent with my objective of combining the best practices of progressive private employers with the special demands of the public service, thereby improving our Federal career employee system and the efficiency of its administration.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Veto of Bill To Amend the Public Health Service Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232132