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COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
FRANK CLARK, Florida, Chairman. JOHN L. BURNETT, Alabama.
JOIN J. EAGAN, New Jersey. JAMES C. CANTRILL, Kentucky.
EDWARD GILMORE, Massachusetts. ABURN A, RODDENBERY, Georgia.
RICHARD W. AUSTIN, Tennessee. WILLIAM A. ASHBROOK, Ohio.
JOHN W. LANGLEY, Kentucky. JAMES M. GUDGER, JR., North Carolina. J. M. C. SMITH, Michigan. J. WASHINGTON LOGUE, Pennsylvania. THOMAS B. DUNN, New York. HATTON W. SUMNERS, Texas.
SILIS R. BANTON, Nebraska. AUGUSTINE LONERGAN, Connecticut.
AARON S. KREIDER, l'ennsylvania, GEORGE MCCLELLAN, New York.
CHARLES W. BELL, California.
EDWARD (LARK, Clerk.
PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS.
COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Friday, June 13, 1913. The committee this day met, Hon. Frank Clark (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen of the committee, this meeting has been called for the purpose of hearing Mr. McCoy, of New Jersey, on the bill H. R. 4325. The members of the old committee will remember that in the last public buildings bill there was an item carried for Newark, X. J., and there seems to be some misunderstanding as to what it really meant. Mr. McCoy has introduced this bill, as I understand it, to meet the construction put upon it by the Attorney General.
Mr. McCoy, you may proceed.
STATEMENT OF HON. WALTER I. M'COY, A MEMBER OF CON
GRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY.
Mr. McCoy. Mr. Chairman, and gentlemen of the committee, I greatly appreciate your coming together at this time.
I requested the chairman to call the committee together for the purpose of considering the bill II. R. 1325. The purpose of the bill is twofold from my point of view, one purpose being to do away with an interpretation placed by the Attorney General's Office on section 19 of the public buildings bill passed at the last session of the Sixtysecond Congress, and the other purpose is to provide that we may be permitted to use part of the proceeds derived from the sale of the present post-office building and site in Newark, N. J., for consulting architects' services.
To take up the first point: Newark, N. J., is represented in part by Mr. Kinkead, in part by Mr. Townsend, and in part by myself. The actual location of our post office happens to be in my district, and because of that fact I was requested to introduce a bill, which I did in the Sixty-second Congress, asking for an appropriation of $1.000.000 for a new site for a post office and other Government offices in the city of Newark. The committee gave us a hearing on the bill, and during the course of the discussion it transpired that the Government had a very valuable piece of real estate. If you will read the report of the hearings before the committee you can see what trend that discussion took. The members of the committee began to ask what the property was worth and whether the proceeds of the sale of the property would probably be sufficient to purchase a
suitable site and erect a suitable building, and I remember that it was asked whether we should be willing to have our appropriation conditioned on our being able to procure $1,500,000 for the present post-office site; and the members of the board of trade who were here, and who knew more about the matter than I, were, and I, from the information which I had received in regard to the matter, was willing to say “Yes”; we were perfectly willing to have the appropriation conditioned on our being able to secure $1,500,000 for the present site.
After that discussion a considerable number of the members of the committee visited Newark, and I believe that they were satisfied and that the whole committee was satisfied of two things: One, that the present facilities were thoroughly inadequate for the Government's purposes; and, secondly, that the site with the building on it was too valuable for Government purposes, because we could sell it and apply the money to the purchase of a new site in a suitable location and the cost of erecting a much more adequate building. So the net result of the arguments before the committee and of the visit to Newark was section 19 of the public buildings bill of the last session of the Sixty-second Congress, which, in substance, authorized and directed the Secretary of the Treasury to sell the present site for not less than $1,800,000, and “authorized and directed the Secretary of the Treasury to acquire, by purchase, condemnation, or otherwise, a site for a suitable building and approaches for the use and accommodation of the United States post office and other governmental offices in the city of Newark, in the State of New Jersey, the cost of said site not to exceed the sum of $800,000,” conditioned on our selling the present site for $1,800,000, and then later in the bill it was provided, after the expenditure of not to exceed $800,000 for a site, as follows: “ The balance of said proceeds in excess of the amount paid for the site is hereby authorized for the construction of a new building complete,” and it is the use of that phraseology which has gotten us into trouble, although to my mind it is perfectly clear that it does provide that the Secretary is authorized and directed to expend the balance of the proceeds for a new building. Nevertheless, the Secretary of the Treasury secured an opinion from the Attorney General's Office, which I shall ask to incorporate into the minutes of this hearing. I will read part of it now. The point is right here.
In the first part of said section it is provided that the Secretary of the Treasury is “authorized aud directed io acquire, by purchase, condemnation, or otherwise, a site for a suitable building
for the use and accommodation of United States post office
in the city of Newark the cost of said site not to exceed
$800.000, and payment therefor to be made out of the proceeds of the sale of the old site and building
In the last part, referring to the new building, it is stated that “ the balance of said proceeds in excess of the amount paid for the site is hereby authorized for the construction of a new building.” As to the acquisition of the new site you will note that authority is given to acquire and a part of the proceeds of sale appropriated by directing “ payment therefor” to be made out of the sale of the old site and building, while, as to the new building, the amount of the proposed cost is “authorized” only and "payment therefor” is not directed to be made out of the moneys derived from the sale.
And then he goes on to hold, and, of course, that opinion is binding on the Secretary of the Treasury, that that is a mere authorization