Veto of Bill Providing for the Conveyance of Lands Within Camp Blanding Military Reservation, Florida.
To the House of Representatives:
I return herewith, without my approval, H.R. 7512, a bill to provide for the conveyance of the federally-owned lands which are situated within Camp Blanding Military Reservation, Florida, to the Armory Board, State of Florida, in order to consolidate ownership and perpetuate the availability of Camp Blanding for military training and use.
Generally, the bill provides for the conveyance of federally-owned lands within Camp Blanding Military Reservation, Florida, to the Armory Board, State of Florida, upon conditions designed to permit coordinated management of the natural resources of both the Federal and State lands within the reservation and to insure that all of such lands will continue to be available for military use. I wish to emphasize my agreement with these objectives.
However, I cannot approve Section 2 (4) of the bill in its present form. This section would authorize the State of Florida to dispose of "interests or rights in land by lease, license, or easement or by contract of sale of timber or timber products" upon the condition that in the case of Federal lands and within nine months after the enactment of the bill into law, the State of Florida and the Secretary of the Army shall have reached an agreement governing the disposition of the revenues from such operations. Again, there can be no objection to such cooperative action between Federal and State governments. However, Section 2 (4) further provides "that prior to the consummation of the agreement with the State of Florida or board, the Secretary of the Army or his designee shall come into agreement with the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and of the House of Representatives concerning the terms of such agreement." Because of this provision of the bill, I cannot approve it.
The purpose of this clause is to vest in the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and House of Representatives power to approve or disapprove any agreement which the Secretary of the Army proposes to make with the State of Florida pursuant to Section 2 (4). The practical effect would be to place the power to make such agreement jointly in the Secretary of the Army and the members of the Committees on Armed Services. In so doing, the bill would violate the fundamental constitutional principle of separation of powers prescribed in Articles I and II of the Constitution which place the legislative power in the Congress and the executive power in the Executive branch.
The making of such a contract or agreement on behalf of the United States is a purely executive or administrative function, like the negotiation and execution of government contracts generally. Thus, while Congress may enact legislation governing the making of government contracts, it may not delegate to its members or committees the power to make such contracts, either directly or by giving to them a power to approve or disapprove a contract which an executive officer proposes to make. Moreover such a procedure destroys the clear lines of responsibility for results which the Constitution provides.
I believe it to be my duty to oppose any such departure from constitutional procedures. However, I am confident that the true purpose of the Congress in the enactment of this provision was to facilitate administrative action, while at the same time not neglecting its own responsibilities. I suggest that this could be properly accomplished by requiting specific reports from the Executive as to action taken. These reports could serve as the basis for further Congressional action in case the Congress so desired. Accordingly, I recommend that H.R. 7512 be modified and reenacted.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
Note: A modified bill was enacted on July 14, 1954, as Public Law 493, 83d Congress (68 Stat. 474).
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Veto of Bill Providing for the Conveyance of Lands Within Camp Blanding Military Reservation, Florida. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232049