Veto of Resolution Limiting Application of Provisions of Law to Counsel of the Senate Committee To Investigate the National Defense Program
[Released April 23, 1947. Dated April 22, 1947]
To the Senate:
I am withholding my approval of the Resolution (S.J. Res. 97) "Limiting the application of provisions of Federal law to counsel employed under S. Res. 46."
S. Res. 46 created the Senate Special Committee to investigate the National Defense Program.
The purpose of the Resolution is to limit the application of certain provisions of existing law to counsel employed by the Special Committee. Mentioned specifically in the Resolution are sections 109 and 113 of the Criminal Code (18 U.S.C. 198 and 203). Section 109 of the Criminal Code forbids officers of the United States to aid or assist in the prosecution of claims against the United States. Section 113 forbids officers and employees of the United States to receive any compensation for services rendered in connection with any proceeding or other matter in which the United States is interested before any administrative body.
Exemptions similar to the foregoing have been contained in a number of previous statutes and are not unusual (55 Stat. 861; Public Laws 287 and 456, 78th Congress).
The Resolution, however, enumerates sections 361, 365, and 366 of the Revised Statutes (5 U.S.C. 306, 314, 315). The inclusion of these sections in this type of legislation is novel. Section 361 provides that the officers of the Department of Justice, under the direction of the Attorney General, shall give all opinions and render all services requiring the skill of persons learned in the law necessary to enable the President and the heads of the various departments, and other officers, to discharge their respective duties; and shall, on behalf of the United States, procure the proper evidence for, and conduct, prosecute, or defend all suits and proceedings in the Supreme Court of the United States, and the Court of Claims, in which the United States, or any officer thereof, is a party or may be interested. Section 365 provides that no compensation shall be allowed to any person, other than the United States attorneys and their assistants, for services as an attorney or counselor to the United States, except when specially authorized by. law, and then only upon the certificate of the Attorney General to the effect that the services were actually rendered, and that they could not be performed by the officers of the Department of Justice, or the United States attorneys. Section 366 provides that every counselor or attorney specially retained, under the authority of the Department of Justice, to assist in the trial of any case in which the government is interested, shall receive a commission as a special assistant to the Attorney General, or to one of the United States attorneys, or as a special attorney, as the nature of the appointment may require; and shall take the oath required by law to be taken by the United States attorneys, and be subject to all liabilities imposed upon them by law.
The exemptions with respect to sections 361, 365, and 366 of the Revised Statutes do not appear to be necessary in order to carry out the intent of the Congress. Of more importance, however, is the fact that the inclusion of these sections in the Resolution might be interpreted as granting authority to the Committee counsel to initiate civil or criminal proceedings on behalf of the United States.
I am confident that this was not the intention of the Congress and it is for this reason that I am withholding my approval of the legislation.
HARRY S. TRUMAN
[APP Note: In the Public Papers of the Presidents series, this document is dated April 23, 1947, the date it was released. The American Presidency Project dates this document as April 22, 1947, the date the bill was vetoed.]
Harry S. Truman, Veto of Resolution Limiting Application of Provisions of Law to Counsel of the Senate Committee To Investigate the National Defense Program Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232959