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Veto of Bill Making Supplemental Appropriations for the Federal Security Agency.

June 15, 1948

To the House of Representatives:

I return herewith, without my approval, H.R. 6355, "Making supplemental appropriations for the Federal Security Agency for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1949, and for other purposes."

This bill would provide funds for the next fiscal year for the Social Security Administration, the United States Employment Service, and some functions of the Public Health Service. A measure of this kind clearly should not be disapproved by the President except under unusual circumstances and for the most compelling reasons. Such circumstances are presented by the provisions of this bill which would transfer the United States Employment Service from the Department of Labor to the Federal Security Agency.

I believe that this transfer would be a serious error from the standpoint of the proper location of this important function of Government. I believe also that this transfer is clearly substantive legislation which should not be included in an appropriation bill.

Over the past three years considerable study has been directed to the proper location of the Employment Service in the Government. It is apparent that a system of public employment offices to secure jobs for the workers of this country is directly related to the major purpose of the Department of Labor, which is "to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States." It is equally apparent that it would be far less appropriate to place the Employment Service, together with its auxiliary Farm Placement Service and Veterans' Employment Service, in the Federal Security Agency, which is primarily concerned with matters of health, welfare and education.

I am, therefore, firmly convinced that because of its intimate relationship to the functions of the Department of Labor the Employment Service should remain permanently in that Department.

To achieve this end, I transmitted to the Congress on January 19, 1948, Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1948, placing the United States Employment Service permanently in the Department of Labor and transferring to that Department the Bureau of Employment Security, now in the Federal Security Agency. This Reorganization Plan was not accepted by the Congress, principally on the ground that no basic changes should be made in the structure of the Executive Branch until the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government has completed its studies and submitted its recommendations. This seems to me a reasonable viewpoint.

But in this bill the Congress has acted contrary to its own declared position, and has attempted to effect a far-reaching change in the organization of the Executive Branch without waiting for the Commission on Organization to report.

In fact this legislation, which is of such paramount importance to the interests of millions of wage earners and employers, and which is plainly substantive in nature, was passed by the Congress entirely without reference to or hearings by the legislative committees concerned with such matters. Neither the House Committee on Education and Labor nor the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare was given an opportunity to consider the measure. Instead it was conceived by a subcommittee on appropriations and tacked onto an appropriations bill.

I do not believe that it is in the interest of good government that legislation of such importance should be enacted in such a manner. As I stated in December, 1945, in withholding my approval from an appropriation bill which contained substantive legislation, "a matter of such grave importance as our public employment system deserves not only permanent legislation, but legislation carefully and separately considered. Issues of such a difficult and vital nature should not be dealt with as riders to appropriation bills." I note also that on March 4, 1946, the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress recommended "That the practice of attaching legislation to appropriation bills be discontinued."

What makes this matter even more disturbing is that the present bill is another in a series of legislative actions stripping the Department of Labor of essential funds and functions. Last year the Congress removed the United States Conciliation Service from the Department and drastically slashed the Department's appropriations. To remove the United States Employment Service from the Department would further weaken and demoralize it and reduce the entire Department to such a minor status as to raise seriously the question of the validity of its continuance as a separate Department.

I am convinced, therefore, that the provisions of this bill which would transfer the United States Employment Service represent unwise legislative action, enacted in an unsound manner.

For these compelling reasons I am returning the bill without my approval.


Note: On June 16 the Congress passed the bill over the President's veto. As enacted, H.R. 6355 is Public Law 646, 80th Congress (62 Stat. 443).

Harry S Truman, Veto of Bill Making Supplemental Appropriations for the Federal Security Agency. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232515

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