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It is my personal belief that few people in this Nation know that the more than $6 billion of money already collected via highway user taxes and impounded as far as highway use is concerned, have already been spent on other programs.
I wish there were time to go into all the economic gains this Nation and its people have derived from this great network of roads. Everyone knows that the Interstate System is the greatest public works program ever embarked on by man. But the glamour of this system has completely overshadowed the utterly fantastic progress we have made in my lifetime in the primary and secondary road systems. We have greatly neglected our primary and secondary systems in recent years by impounding the more than $6 billion of collected highway user taxes. We have not only put off the completion of the interstate at a tremendously increased cost, but also delayed getting on with the job of upgrading our primary and secondary systems.
Highways are the backbone of our Nation's transportation system. They serve as the connecting link between all other forms of transportation. Often, we, who are part of the highway industry, are accused of trying to pave over the Nation. This accusation is totally unfounded. We are simply attempting to provide an adequate and safe highway system that can be used by all Americans. The United States has some 3.7 million miles of roads and streets. Less than half of these roads and streets are paved. In the early 1900's, there were about 3 million miles of roads already in existence. in over 70 years we have increased our total road mileage by only about 23 percent. As you can see, we have a long, long way to go before we get the Nation covered. In fact, even if we continued building new roads at the present rate, it would take over 10,000 years to do the job.
I would also like to refer to the 1972 Transportation Needs Study requested of the Department of Transportation by Congress in 1970 and presented by Secretary John Volpe last year. The report indicates that the Nation's highway needs would require an expenditure of $29.6 billion a year to meet the current public demands and that we are currently obligating only $7.3 billion per year from the Federal Highway Trust Fund and matching State funds. This means that we are only 25 percent committed to our present highway needs and these needs figures do not allow for inflation. In contrast to such figures supplied by the administration's own Department of Transportation, we find that the administration is currently holding over $6 billion of impounded highway funds. And we all know that under the Federal Highway Act of 1956, as amended, the Department of Transportation, or any other arm of the executive branch, is specifically denied the discretion to impound funds provided for by that statute for any reason except to meet operating obligations.
The 1972 Transportation Needs Study further reports that 13.4 percent of the average project cost on Federal-aid highway programs relates to the aggregate business. If we consider the $6 billion of impounded funds not put to work yet, this amounts to over $800 million in lost aggregate sales. This figure does not include the additional matching non-Federal funds. If we consider the current $7.3 billion of Federal and matching funds for the annual Federal-aid highway program, the projected annual loss of aggregate sales is nearly $1 billion in addition to the impounded moneys.
The administration claims to be withholding the Highway Trust Fund moneys in the interest of our economy. Surely the President does not realize that almost one out of every five jobs in the United States is in the field of highway transportation-a total of 13.3 million. He must not realize that almost one out of every six businesses are in the automotive field-a total of about 820,000. I maintain this is false economy.
Let me just take a few minutes to report on another partnership arrangement which was completely terminated on December 22—the rural environmental assistance program. Again, by the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen. Our industry has lost 7 million tons of aglime-agricultural lime-sales under the restrictive regulations put into effect by this administration since it took office. And now that it has been terminated we will probably lose another 7 to 10 million tons. This is really not too serious for our industry because aglime is only 4 percent of the limestone industry's total sales. But what about the impact on the health of our people and the conservation of our soil and water? It was my privilege to be in at the beginning of the program when the Congress passed the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1936, not in my present capacity, but as the county office manager employed in my home county by the elected farmer county committee. Attached is the statement I gave to the House Committee on Agriculture. I will not repeat this testimony, nor what I am going to say tomorrow before Senator Talmadge's committee. But let me state as strongly as I know how, when the Congress of the United States determines that this Nation must stop the exploitation of its soil, which was the greatest in the history of the world, and again works out a partnership arrangement whereby all the citizens of the Yation share with the farmers the cost of building up and maintaining our greatest national resources—the soil and clean water—the Congress should also provide safeguards where a bureaucrat cannot terminate this without at least consulting them.
The ACP was originally set forth as a partnership between the Federal Government and the farmers and ranchers to carry out soil and water conservation practices on our agricultural acreage. The various practices were developed to fit the specific conservation needs of a local area----usually on a county by county basis. Over a million farmers annually joined the Federal Government. The farmer had to at least match with his own money the amount he received from the Government. The Federal share has been averaging around $200 for each participant. On top of this, the farmer gave of his own time, labor, and machinery to carry out the conservation practice on his land. Consider the accomplishment of ACP-REAP over the years to improve our environment: over 1 million permanent sod waterways; millions of acres in permanent cover; millions of trees planted; and orer 114 million acres with improved measures to retard erosion. And the list goes on and on. But the point I want to make is that the ACP-REAP has worked. And it has worked not only to the benefit of those engaged in agriculture, but also to those of us not living on farms. Our entire economy is based on the ability to produce food. Do you realize that we are losing some 4 billion tons of soil every year as a result of erosion? The continued existence of man on earth is wholly dependent on a thin crust of material called topsoil. We, as a nation, cannot afford to neglect our most precious soil resources. That is, unless we want to abandon the hopes of our future generations.
1 See p. 734.
The citizens of these United States recognize the value of this program. Through their elected representatives in Congress, they have maintained the ACP-REAP. It is absurd for the administration to now decide that the ACP-REAP is no longer needed nor desirable. If the administration is at all responsive and has any regard for the citizens of our great country, then it should rescind this order of termination, which the administration had no right to make in the first place.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to enter here in the record part of a letter received at my office from an ASCS county office director from New York State.
During the reporting period, about $130,864.00 of REAP cost-sharing was used in this county. These funds helped solve particular conservation problems on 343 farms. This represents about 22% of the farms in the county. The following conservation measures were accomplished :
In addition to sharing the cost of conservation practices, the County REAP helped provide necessary technical services by transferring $6,370 to the Soil Conservation Service.
His report is representative of the accomplishments attained yearly in the county REAP programs all over the country and all of this has been eliminated arbitrarily by the administration. The old Budget Bureau was and the present Office of Management and Budget is full of highly trained accountants who can prove we are going bankrupt.
Gentlemen, no one has said it better than the Honorable Jamie Whitten, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environmental and Consumer Protection, in his address to our annual convention 2 weeks
ago. He said: We could leave to our children all the money in the world, and a worn-out land, and in effect we would leave them nothing. On the other hand, if we leave them rich land with soil erosion stopped, with rivers and harbors free of pollution, and our hillsides once again in trees, they'll make it fine whatever our financial plight, for with a rich country behind them, they could establish their own financial system.
The three branches of Government must work together in order to maintain the existence of our democratic form of government. If, in a era of good feeling or in an effort to make Government work smoothly and more efficiently, one branch yield parts of another branch as a privilege and if the receiving branch grossly abuses the privilege, it becomes the duty of the granting branch to withdraw that privilege and recoup its control. Such give-and-take, yielding and recouping, is the heart of the balance of powers in our democracy. And yet, we sometimes seem surprised when our Government must undergo these adjustments. Restrictions on the Executive by a legislative group is not without precedent in our English heritage. One has only to recall the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, over 750 years ago. Here was the power of the monarch first limited and made responsible to a body of Îords. Legislators must go beyond partisan politics and act in unity to assert the will of the people they represent.
Our Nation's people, for many years, probably beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, have looked to their President for strong leadership. With his power, authority and charismatic glamour, the President is the only figure elected by all of the people. He executes authority with a swiftness that legislative bodies can rarely match. The American people have come to respect this type of action. If the Congress is to recapture the respect of the people and function again as the peoples' branch of Government, it must first recapture the prerogatives it has relinquished to the Executive. It would seem to me that the fate of the concept of separation of powers in our American democracy rests squarely in the hands of this committee and the entire Congress. We, therefore, wholeheartedly endorse S. 373.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of this committee, for the privilege of presenting this statement.
Senator CHILEs. Thank you, Mr. Koch.
Senator Ervin. The members of your organization have been particularly concerned about the termination of the program under which farmers are furnished with lime to carry out their soil conservation practices ?
Mr. Koch. That is correct.
Senator ERVIN. And that has been terminated by either the President or the Secretary of Agriculture!
Mr. Koch. That is correct.
Senator ERVIN. The Congress has been very much concerned of late about failure of officials of the executive branch of the Government to appear before congressional committees when invited or requested to testify. Yesterday, Senator Mansfield read a letter to the Democratic caucus, dated January 25, 1973, from Mr. John Dean III, counsel to the President. The first paragraph says:
In response to your letter of January 11, 1972, the President has asked me to thank you for forwarding the text of a resolution adopted by the Democratic Conference of the Senate which advocates as a prerequisite of the confirmation that the Presidential appointees provide the appropriate confirming committees with assurances that they will appear and testify. Indeed, this proposal does not conflict with the policies of this Administration that appointed officials who are subject to Senate confirmation not only respond to invitations to appear before duly constituted committees of Congress, but on appropriate occasions to ask time to testify on matters of mutual interest to the committees and their departments or agencies.
In view of the fact that there are many programs which have been terminated which are administered under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture, I wrote a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture several weeks ago inviting him to come down and tell usgive us some information—to point out by what authority these programs have been terminated. This committee has been expecting the Secretary of Agriculture to be here today. I am now informed that some days ago, on the 26th of this month, the Secretary of Agriculture, who is just a few blocks away from the Capitol and Senate Office Building, wrote a letter to me that he wouldn't be here; he had to testify before the Committee on Agriculture.
Well, I have never seen the letter. I realize that the Post Office Department is not the most efficient department of Government, but we have had the Secretary of Agriculture scheduled to appear here today. Now, I am extremely anxious to have him. Of course, I would like to know what authority he acts under, because I have read many, many times the second article of the Constitution which set forth the powers to the President and there is not a syllable in there which gives the President any constitutional power to terminate any program established by Congress, and I need light on this subject.
Having been confirmed prior to this time, the Secretary of Agriculture is not covered by the resolutions that the Democratic caucus passed saying they are not going to confirm any Cabinet member who doesn't agree to come before the Senate committees and give them information about the affairs of their offices. Even so, it is about the affairs of this office that we need testimony of the Secretary of Agriculture.
I would like to find out just specifically under what legal authority he claims to act in terminating these programs.
But it has gotten to be a very unfortunate thing when we ask the executive branch of the Government-here is a copy. I wrote this letter to the Secretary of Agriculture :
The Subcommittee on Separation of Powers jointly with an ad hoc Committee of the Government Operations Committee will hold hearings on Executive impoundment of appropriated funds on January 3rd and 30th and February 1st, and 6th, 1973. These hearings are in effect a continuation of hearings on this subject held by the Subcommittee on Separation of Powers in March, 1971. I am writing to ask that you testify at these hearings concerning the impoundment of funds appropriated to implement the Rural Environmental Assistance Program or any other funds appropriated for programs under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture which are now impounded, withheld, sequestered, or held in reserve or have been diverted to other uses. I also invite you to submit a written statement for inclusion in the hearing record. Please have one of your staff members contact Mr. Rufus Edminsten, Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the Subcommittee
Senator ERVIN. We gave a phone number to save them that much trouble. concerning the arrangements for your appearance. He will, of course, attempt to arrange a time that will be most convenient to you. The hearings will be held in Room 3302, Dirksen Senate Office Building, New Senate Office Building, and will begin at 10 o'clock each morning, January 30th and 31st, February 1st, and 6th, 1973.
I am informed that the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture notified the committee that he would be here today, but I hope that eventually sometime between now and the time that the last echo of