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Veto of Bill for the Relief of Colonel Benjamin Axelroad.

July 01, 1957

To the United States Senate:

I am returning herewith, without my approval, S. 1008, "For the relief of Colonel Benjamin Axelroad."

The bill would provide for the payment to Colonel Benjamin Axelroad, of Tullahoma, Tennessee, of the sum of $2,799.50 as compensation for legal services performed and expenses incurred by him in securing the enactment of private relief legislation to compensate certain claimants for a death and for personal injuries sustained by others in a motor vehicle accident involving an Army truck.

The private relief legislation involved was Private Law 498, 83d Congress, approved July 1, 1954, entitled, "For the relief of Chester H. Tuck, Mary Elizabeth Fisher, James Thomas Harper, and Mrs. T. W. Bennett.", which provided compensation to the named beneficiaries in the aggregate amount of $27,999.50. That Act also provided that no part of the money appropriated therein should be paid to or received by any agent or attorney on account of services rendered in connection with such claim and specified a penalty of a fine of not more than $1,000 for violation of such prohibition. When that Act passed the House of Representatives, it provided that no part of the amount appropriated therein "for the payment of any one claim in excess of 10 percent thereof" should be paid to any attorney. This language was stricken in the Senate, however, and the measure was finally enacted carrying the complete bar against the payment of attorney's fee in any amount from the sums appropriated.

The relief proposed by this measure is most unusual. It would require the Government to compensate counsel for claimants in private relief legislation, whereas claimants themselves should bear the cost of attorneys' fees for such services. Indeed, the enrolled bill here under consideration contains an identical prohibition against the payment of attorneys' fees for services rendered in connection with this legislation. I am unable to find any justification for the payment by the Government of attorneys' fees on behalf of claimants in private relief legislation. Committee reports on this bill (H. Rept. 498 and S. Rept. 210, 85th Cong. ) advance, as a basis for this legislation, the fact that original language would not have prohibited the payment of an attorney fee by the claimants. This language was stricken from the bill and, as a result, counsel could not obtain compensation under the bill as finally enacted. If the original language of the former measure, prohibiting the payment of attorneys' fees from the amount appropriated in excess of 10 percent thereof, had been enacted, Colonel Axelroad might have been entitled to recover reasonable attorneys' fees from claimants out of the amount appropriated-but in no event would he have been entitled to a fee from the Government. If the Congress wishes to undo what it did in enacting legislation prohibiting Colonel Axelroad from receiving any compensation from the amounts of the several awards, it may be done by appropriate legislation. I cannot, however, approve legislation which would cast upon the Government the burden of paying the fees of counsel for claimants in private relief legislation, and which would establish a most undesirable precedent.

For these reasons, I feel obliged to withhold my approval from this measure.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, Veto of Bill for the Relief of Colonel Benjamin Axelroad. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233336

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