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Veto of Bill To Authorize Exchange of Public Lands by the Secretary of the Interior.

August 02, 1946

To the House of Representatives:

I return herewith without my approval the bill (H.R. 2423) to authorize the exchange of lands acquired by the United States for the Silver Creek recreational demonstration project, Oregon, for the purpose of consolidating holdings therein, and for other purposes.

The bill authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to exchange lands for other lands of approximately equal value when, in his opinion, such action is in the interest of the United States.

While I am in accord with the general purposes and objectives of this measure, it contains the same objectionable type of provision which prompted me to withhold my approval recently of the bill S. 1273. The bill S. 1273 provided, as does Section 1 of the present measure, that the title to any lands acquired thereunder shall be satisfactory to the Secretary of the Interior. This provision is objectionable and represents a material change in existing law involving an unwarranted deviation from the long-established and manifestly sound practice under which the Attorney General is charged with the duty of examining the validity of titles to lands acquired by the government. This duty has for more than a century been vested in the Attorney General with respect to the vast majority of acquisitions and I see no reason to change this general practice which has proven so satisfactory through the years.

An advantage of this long standing policy has been that the agency of the government acquiring the land has the independent checking of the title by a disinterested agency. Moreover, there can be no question that the maintenance in the different departments of the government of staffs of attorneys for the purpose of examining title to land will result in duplication and additional expense, as well as less efficient administration. It is to avoid duplication of this character that the Congress passed and I approved the Reorganization Act of 1945.

For these reasons, I am constrained to withhold my approval from the bill.

HARRY S. TRUMAN

Harry S. Truman, Veto of Bill To Authorize Exchange of Public Lands by the Secretary of the Interior. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231976

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