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COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AFFAIRS.
JAMES W. WADSWORTH, JR., of New York, Chairman.
FRANCIS E. WARREN, Wyoming. HOWARD SUTHERLAND, West Virginia. HARRY S. NEW, Indiana.
GEORGE E. CHAMBERLAIN, Oregon. GILBERT M. HITCHCOCK, Nebraska. DUNCAN U. FLETCHER, Florida.
JOSEPH S. FRELINGHUYSEN, New Jersey. HENRY L. MYERS, Montana.
DISPOSITION OF WAR SUPPLIES AND OTHER GOVERNMENT
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 1919.
UNITED STATES SENATE,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON MILITARY AFFAIRS,
Washington, D. C.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to the call of the chairman, at 10 o'clock a. m., in the room of the Committee on Appropriations, Senator Francis E. Warren presiding.
Present, Senators Warren (chairman) and Kirby.
The subcommittee had under consideration the following bill:
[S. 3142, Sixty-sixth Congress, first session.]
A BILL Authorizing the sale, exchange, lease, and bailment of war supplies and other Government property.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President, through the head of any executive department, be, and he is hereby, authorized, upon such terms and conditions and under such rules and regulations as he shall prescribe, to sell, exchange, or lease for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, to any domestic or foreign person, partnership, association, corporation, State, Territory, municipality, Government, or any subdivision thereof or to transfer to any other department of the United States, any war supplies, material, equipment, and by-products, or any other article, thing, or property manufactured, constructed, or acquired as incident to or connected with the war; also such lands, buildings, plants, factories, port Army supply bases and port terminals and port terminal facilities, or any part thereof or interest therein acquired or built by the United States since April 6, 1917, for purposes incident to or connected with the war, except flying fields and camps and cantonments: Provided, That sales, leases, or exchanges of small arms and light and heavy artillery with pertaining equipment shall be limited to State, Territories, municipalities, foreign States and Governments and subdivisions thereof; and to officers and enlisted men of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, now in the service or heretofore or hereafter discharged under honorable conditions, and to members of the National Rifle Association or to other recognized associations or educational institutions within the United States for the encouragement of military drill or small arms practice, and to American manufacturers and inventors for experimental purposes: Provided further, That bailments without compensation to the United States of articles which have no recognized commercial use may be made to American manufacturers and inventors for such experimental or engineering purposes as may be to the advantage of the United States: And provided further, That steamships in the Army Transport Service of the United States, and other vessels in the possession of the War Department found unsuitable for further service and no longer required by such department, may be sold and disposed of as provided herein, without regard to the date of the acquisition of such steamship or vessel.
SEC. 2. That a detailed report shall be made to Congress on the first day of each regular session of all sales, exchanges, leases, or bailments made under the authority of this Act; such detailed report shall show the character of the transaction, the nature of its subject matter, the identity of the transferee, the price and terms of disposal, and the purpose of the transaction: 3
Provided, That this Act shall be construed as repealing existing statutes in so far as they are directly inconsistent herewith.
Senator WARREN. This is primarily an investigation of an existing situation, but certain modifications appear to be necessary in the bill before us, S. 3142.
Mr. Dorr, will you proceed?
STATEMENT OF MR. GOLDTHWAITE H. DORR, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF MUNITIONS, WAR DEPARTMENT.
Senator WARREN. Mr. Dorr, will you please tell us why you want this bill enacted?
Mr. DORR. The present authority of the officers of the department charged with the disposition of property that has been acquired by the War Department as incident to the war, and of which there is a large surplus by reason of the termination of the war, is derived from a variety of statutes, many of them giving very broad and sweeping powers. For example, the act of May 10, 1918, provides that the President in his discretion and upon such terms as he deems expedient, through the head of any executive department, may dispose of any supplies, materials, or other property heretofore or hereafter purchased, acquired, or manufactured by the United States in connection with or incidental to the prosecution of the war.
The act of July 9, 1918, contains a similar provision, slightly varying in terminology.
Senator WARREN. What power does that give?
Mr. DORR. That gave the President the power through the head of any executive department, on such terms as such head of department might deem expedient, to dispose of any war supplies, material, equipment, and any by-products thereof, and any buildings, plants, or factories acquired since April 6, 1917, with the lands upon which the plant or factory may be situated for the production of such war supplies, materials, and equipment which, during the present emergency, may have been or may hereafter be purchased, acquired, or manufactured by the United States.
The act of July 11, 1919, contains a provision for the sale of surplus supplies.
Senator WARREN. What is that provision?
Mr. DORR. That provision gave the President the power to dispose of supplies from various services of the Government possessing supplies and equipment no longer needed because of war activities.
The act of July 11, 1919, the same act, conferred power upon the Secretary of War, upon terms deemed best, to sell surplus supplies. including motor trucks and automobiles, now owned by and in possession of the Government, for use in the War Department. The language as to surplus supplies is very broad.
Senator WARREN. I presume that it covers everything considered surplusage, does it not?
Mr. DORR. Substantially. Well, that would seem to us to be the natural construction, but the word "supplies" is one which needs to be defined, and how far that goes is open to question. I have here a tabulation, prepared in the office of the Judge Advocate General. of the numerous and overlapping provisions of statutes relating to the power to sell Government property.
(The table referred to is here printed in the record as follows:)