A-60134, FEBRUARY 25, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 638

A-60134: Feb 25, 1935

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FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION - CONVENTIONS AND GATHERINGS - STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION WHILE IT IS PERMISSIBLE. CONVEYED OR FURNISHED TRANSPORTATION AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE UNLESS AUTHORITY THEREFOR IS SPECIFICALLY GRANTED BY LAW. AS YOU WILL SEE. WHICH IS NOW BEING CONDUCTED BY THIS ADMINISTRATION TO ENCOURAGE THE REPAIR AND MODERNIZATION OF REAL ESTATE UNDER TITLE I OF THE NATIONAL HOUSING ACT. OUTSTANDING CITIZENS OF A LARGE NUMBER OF COMMUNITIES HAVE BEEN SELECTED TO APPOINT COMMITTEES CONSISTING OF CITIZENS OF THE COMMUNITY AND TO ACT AS CHAIRMEN OF SUCH COMMITTEES. THE FUNCTION OF THESE COMMITTEES IS TO ASSIST IN THE PROMOTION OF THIS CAMPAIGN. THESE COMMITTEES AND THE CHAIRMEN ALL SERVE WITHOUT COMPENSATION AND HAVE BEEN EXTREMELY HELPFUL IN THE FURTHERANCE OF THE PROGRAM.

A-60134, FEBRUARY 25, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 638

FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION - CONVENTIONS AND GATHERINGS - STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION WHILE IT IS PERMISSIBLE, AS AN AID TO PROPER INTERPRETATION OF AMBIGUOUS PROVISIONS FOUND IN AN ENACTMENT, TO EXAMINE AND CONSIDER SUCH MATTERS AS THE TITLE AND PREAMBLE THEREOF AND THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY, AN ENACTMENT REASONABLY CLEAR IN ITSELF MAY NOT BE DISTORTED, THROUGH INTERPRETATION, BY AN ENLARGING OR RESTRICTING OF ITS APPLICATION TO CONFORM TO SUCH EXTRINSIC MATTERS. UNDER THE TERMS OF PUBLIC RESOLUTION NO. 2, DATED FEBRUARY 2, 1935, NO CONVENTION OR OTHER FORM OF ASSEMBLAGE OR GATHERING MAY BE LODGED, FED, CONVEYED OR FURNISHED TRANSPORTATION AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE UNLESS AUTHORITY THEREFOR IS SPECIFICALLY GRANTED BY LAW. THE APPROPRIATION MADE AVAILABLE BY SECTION 4, TITLE I OF THE NATIONAL HOUSING ACT OF JUNE 27, 1934, 48 STAT. 1247,"FOR THE PURPOSE OF CARRYING OUT THE PROVISIONS OF THIS TITLE AND TITLES II AND III" MAY NOT BE USED FOR PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF CONDUCTING A CAMPAIGN WITH A VIEW TO INDUCING PROPERTY OWNERS TO MAKE ALTERATIONS, REPAIRS, OR IMPROVEMENTS TO THEIR PROPERTY FOR THE PURPOSE OF CREATING A DEMAND FOR LOANS FROM FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS SO THAT THE FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION MAY INSURE SUCH INSTITUTIONS AGAINST LOSSES OR MAKE LOANS TO SAID INSTITUTIONS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION, FEBRUARY 25, 1935:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 2, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

CONGRESS HAS JUST PASSED HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 118, A COPY OF WHICH IAM ENCLOSING HEREWITH.

AS YOU WILL SEE, THIS RESOLUTION PROVIDES "THAT, UNLESS SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED BY LAW, NO MONEYS FROM FUNDS APPROPRIATED FOR ANY PURPOSE SHALL BE USED FOR THE PURPOSE OF LODGING, FEEDING, CONVEYING, OR FURNISHING TRANSPORTATION TO, ANY CONVENTIONS OR OTHER FORM OF ASSEMBLAGE OR GATHERING TO BE HELD IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA OR ELSEWHERE. THIS SECTION SHALL NOT BE CONSTRUED TO PROHIBIT THE PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE DISCHARGE OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES.'

IN CONNECTION WITH THE CAMPAIGN, WHICH IS NOW BEING CONDUCTED BY THIS ADMINISTRATION TO ENCOURAGE THE REPAIR AND MODERNIZATION OF REAL ESTATE UNDER TITLE I OF THE NATIONAL HOUSING ACT, APPROVED JUNE 27, 1934, OUTSTANDING CITIZENS OF A LARGE NUMBER OF COMMUNITIES HAVE BEEN SELECTED TO APPOINT COMMITTEES CONSISTING OF CITIZENS OF THE COMMUNITY AND TO ACT AS CHAIRMEN OF SUCH COMMITTEES. THE FUNCTION OF THESE COMMITTEES IS TO ASSIST IN THE PROMOTION OF THIS CAMPAIGN. THESE COMMITTEES AND THE CHAIRMEN ALL SERVE WITHOUT COMPENSATION AND HAVE BEEN EXTREMELY HELPFUL IN THE FURTHERANCE OF THE PROGRAM. IN ORDER TO KEEP THESE CHAIRMEN INTERESTED IN AND ACQUAINTED WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CAMPAIGN AS IT PROGRESSES, THE ADMINISTRATION HAS HELD MEETINGS AT CONVENIENT POINTS FROM TIME TO TIME WHICH THEY HAVE BEEN REQUESTED TO ATTEND. IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THESE MEN ARE SERVING WITHOUT PAY AND PURELY IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST, IT IS THOUGHT THAT THEY SHOULD NOT BE ASKED TO DEFRAY THEIR TRAVELING AND HOTEL EXPENSES WHILE ATTENDING THESE MEETINGS. ON THE OTHER HAND, THE RIGHT OF THE ADMINISTRATION, UNDER THE RESOLUTION, TO DEFRAY THESE EXPENSES OUT OF ITS FUNDS SEEMS DOUBTFUL TO ME, ALTHOUGH IT DOES NOT SEEM THAT IT WAS THE PURPOSE OF CONGRESSMAN COCHRAN, WHO OFFERED THE RESOLUTION, TO PREVENT SUCH PAYMENT, AS IS INDICATED BY HIS STATEMENT MADE ON THE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE WHEN THE RESOLUTION WAS OFFERED AND WHICH STATEMENT APPEARS IN THE CONGRESSIONAL RECORD OF JANUARY 21, 1935, ON PAGE 733.

WILL YOU PLEASE BE GOOD ENOUGH TO ADVISE THIS ADMINISTRATION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT, IN YOUR OPINION, SUCH PAYMENTS CAN BE MADE HEREAFTER IN VIEW OF THIS RESOLUTION? IF YOUR ANSWER IS IN THE NEGATIVE, THEN I REQUEST THAT YOU EXPRESS AN OPINION AS TO WHETHER IT WOULD BE LEGAL FOR THIS ADMINISTRATION TO FORMALLY APPOINT THESE VARIOUS CHAIRMEN AS OFFICIALS OF THE ADMINISTRATION WITHOUT COMPENSATION AND THEREBY MAKE THEM ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE THEIR EXPENSES UNDER THE LAST SENTENCE OF THE RESOLUTION.

FOR YOUR CONVENIENT REFERENCE, I AM ALSO INCLOSING HEREWITH COPY OF THE NATIONAL HOUSING ACT. I CALL YOUR PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 1, TITLE I OF THIS ACT, WHEREIN IT IS PROVIDED THAT "THE ADMINISTRATOR MAY ESTABLISH SUCH AGENCIES, ACCEPT AND UTILIZE SUCH VOLUNTARY AND UNCOMPENSATED SERVICES, UTILIZE SUCH FEDERAL OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, AND, WITH THE CONSENT OF THE STATE, SUCH STATE AND LOCAL OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, AND APPOINT SUCH OTHER OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES AS HE MAY FIND NECESSARY, AND MAY PRESCRIBE THEIR AUTHORITIES, DUTIES, RESPONSIBILITIES, AND TENURE AND FIX THEIR COMPENSATION, WITHOUT REGARD TO THE PROVISIONS OF OTHER LAWS APPLICABLE TO THE EMPLOYMENT OF COMPENSATION OF OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES. * * * AND MAY MAKE SUCH EXPENDITURES (INCLUDING EXPENDITURES FOR PERSONAL SERVICES AND RENT AT THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT AND ELSEWHERE, FOR LAW BOOKS AND BOOKS OF REFERENCE, AND FOR PAPER, PRINTING AND BINDING) AS ARE NECESSARY TO CARRY OUT THE PROVISIONS OF THIS TITLE AND TITLES II AND III, WITHOUT REGARD TO ANY OTHER PROVISIONS OF LAW GOVERNING THE EXPENDITURE OF PUBLIC FUNDS. ALL SUCH COMPENSATION, EXPENSES, AND ALLOWANCES SHALL BE PAID OUT OF FUNDS MADE AVAILABLE BY THIS ACT.'

IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT IT IS CONTEMPLATED TO HOLD A NUMBER OF THESE MEETINGS IN THE VERY NEAR FUTURE, I REQUEST THAT YOU GIVE THE MATTER AS PROMPT ATTENTION AS POSSIBLE.

THE HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 118 (PUBLIC RESOLUTION NO. 2, APPROVED FEBRUARY 2, 1935), QUOTED BY YOU, IS ENTITLED:

TO PROHIBIT EXPENDITURE OF ANY MONEYS FOR HOUSING, FEEDING, OR TRANSPORTING CONVENTIONS OR MEETINGS.

AND ITS PREAMBLE IS AS FOLLOWS:

WHEREAS NUMEROUS APPLICATIONS ARE BEING RECEIVED FROM VARIOUS ORGANIZATIONS REQUESTING LODGING, FOOD, AND TRANSPORTATION FOR THE PURPOSE OF HOLDING CONVENTIONS OR MEETINGS AT WASHINGTON AND ELSEWHERE; AND

WHEREAS THE EXPENDITURE OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS FOR SUCH PURPOSES IS AGAINST THE POLICY OF ONGRESS: * * *

WHILE THERE WAS SOME DISCUSSION IN CONNECTION WITH CONSIDERATION AND PASSAGE OF THE RESOLUTION BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ON JANUARY 21, 1935--- SEE THE RECORD OF THAT DATE BEGINNING ON PAGE 733--- AND WHILE THERE WERE THEN POINTED OUT SOME OF THE ABUSES THE MEASURE, IF ENACTED, WOULD STOP OR PREVENT, THE DISCUSSION WAS BY NO MEANS EXHAUSTIVE AND DID NOT SO INVOLVE THE MATTER OF THE FULL EFFECT OF THE LANGUAGE EMPLOYED AS TO BE HELPFUL IN THE INSTANT MATTER. THE DISCUSSION WAS EVEN LESS IN CONNECTION WITH CONSIDERATION AND PASSAGE OF THE RESOLUTION BY THE SENATE.

WHILE IT IS PERMISSIBLE, AS AN AID TO PROPER INTERPRETATION OF AMBIGUOUS PROVISIONS FOUND IN AN ENACTMENT, TO EXAMINE AND CONSIDER SUCH MATTERS AS THE TITLE AND PREAMBLE THEREOF AND THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY, AN ENACTMENT REASONABLY CLEAR IN ITSELF MAY NOT BE DISTORTED, THROUGH INTERPRETATION, BY AN ENLARGING OR RESTRICTING OF ITS APPLICATION TO CONFORM TO SUCH EXTRINSIC MATTERS. THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE EFFECTS OF THE MEASURE, IF ENACTED, AND THUS THE PURPOSES THAT ACTUATED THE MANY MEMBERS OF BOTH THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES WHO MADE NO REMARKS THEREON YET FAVORED AND VOTED THEREFOR, MUST BE UNDERSTOOD AND ACCEPTED AS THE REASONABLE MEANING OF THE EFFECTIVE AND OPERATING PORTION THEREOF, WHICH IS AS FOLLOWS:

THAT, UNLESS SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED BY LAW, NO MONEYS FROM FUNDS APPROPRIATED FOR ANY PURPOSE SHALL BE USED FOR THE PURPOSE OF LODGING, FEEDING, CONVEYING, OR FURNISHING TRANSPORTATION TO, ANY CONVENTIONS OR OTHER FORM OF ASSEMBLAGE OR GATHERING TO BE HELD IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA OR ELSEWHERE. THIS SECTION SHALL NOT BE CONSTRUED TO PROHIBIT THE PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE DISCHARGE OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES.

THE PRESIDENT IS HEREBY REQUESTED TO SEND A COPY OF THIS RESOLUTION TO THE HEADS OF ALL GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES WHICH HAVE BEEN GRANTED LUMP-SUM APPROPRIATIONS.

THERE SEEMS VERY LITTLE IF ANY ROOM FOR DOUBT AS TO THE REASONABLE MEANING AND LEGAL EFFECT OF SUCH LANGUAGE. SIMPLY STATED, IT IS THAT NO CONVENTION OR OTHER FORM OF ASSEMBLAGE OR GATHERING MAY BE LODGED, FED, CONVEYED, OR FURNISHED TRANSPORTATION AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE UNLESS AUTHORITY THEREFOR IS SPECIFICALLY GRANTED BY LAW.

IT IS NOT APPARENT UNDER WHAT PROVISION OF THE NATIONAL HOUSING ACT THE FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION IS CONSIDERED AUTHORIZED TO CONDUCT A CAMPAIGN "TO ENCOURAGE THE REPAIR AND MODERNIZATION OF REAL ESTATE" (QUOTING FROM YOUR LETTER).

YOU MENTION THAT THE CAMPAIGN IS NOW BEING CONDUCTED UNDER TITLE I OF THE ACT. SAID TITLE BEARS THE HEADING--- "HOUSING RENOVATION AND MODERNIZATION.' THE ONLY PROVISIONS UNDER SAID TITLE PRESCRIBING OR MENTIONING THE FUNCTIONS OR ACTIVITIES OF THE ADMINISTRATION ARE SECTION 2 OF THE ACT, TITLE I, PROVIDING:

THE ADMINISTRATOR IS AUTHORIZED AND EMPOWERED, UPON SUCH TERMS AND CONDITIONS AS HE MAY PRESCRIBE, TO INSURE BANKS, TRUST COMPANIES, PERSONAL FINANCE COMPANIES, MORTGAGE COMPANIES, BUILDING AND LOAN ASSOCIATIONS, INSTALLMENT LENDING COMPANIES, AND OTHER SUCH FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS, WHICH ARE APPROVED BY HIM AS ELIGIBLE FOR CREDIT INSURANCE, AGAINST LOSSES WHICH THEY MAY SUSTAIN AS A RESULT OF LOANS AND ADVANCES OF CREDIT, AND PURCHASES OF OBLIGATIONS REPRESENTING LOANS AND ADVANCES OF CREDIT, MADE BY THEM SUBSEQUENT TO THE DATE AS THE PRESIDENT MAY FIX BY PROCLAMATION, FOR THE PURPOSE OF FINANCING ALTERATIONS, REPAIRS, AND IMPROVEMENTS UPON REAL PROPERTY. IN NO CASE SHALL THE INSURANCE GRANTED BY THE ADMINISTRATOR UNDER THIS SECTION TO ANY SUCH FINANCIAL INSTITUTION EXCEED 20 PERCENTUM OF THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF THE LOANS, ADVANCES OF CREDIT, AND PURCHASES MADE BY SUCH FINANCIAL INSTITUTION FOR SUCH PURPOSE; AND THE TOTAL LIABILITY INCURRED BY THE ADMINISTRATOR FOR SUCH INSURANCE SHALL IN NO CASE EXCEED IN THE AGGREGATE $200,000,000. NO INSURANCE SHALL BE GRANTED UNDER THIS SECTION TO ANY SUCH FINANCIAL INSTITUTION WITH RESPECT TO ANY OBLIGATION REPRESENTING ANY SUCH LOAN, ADVANCE OF CREDIT, OR PURCHASE BY IT THE FACE AMOUNT OF WHICH EXCEEDS $2,000; NOR UNLESS THE OBLIGATION BEARS SUCH INTEREST, HAS SUCH MATURITY, AND CONTAINS SUCH OTHER TERMS, CONDITIONS, AND RESTRICTIONS, AS THE ADMINISTRATOR SHALL PRESCRIBE.

AND SECTION 3 WHICH AUTHORIZES AND EMPOWERS THE ADMINISTRATOR TO MAKE LOANS TO CERTAIN INSTITUTIONS.

WHILE SECTION 2, SUPRA, PROVIDES FOR INSURING CERTAIN FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AGAINST LOSSES SUSTAINED AS A RESULT OF LOANS MADE BY THEM "FOR THE PURPOSE OF FINANCING ALTERATIONS, REPAIRS, AND IMPROVEMENTS UPON REAL PROPERTY," NEITHER SAID SECTION NOR SECTION 3 WOULD APPEAR TO AUTHORIZE THE FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION TO USE APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR EXPENSES OF CONDUCTING A CAMPAIGN WITH A VIEW TO INDUCING PROPERTY OWNERS TO MAKE ALTERATIONS, REPAIRS, OR IMPROVEMENTS TO THEIR PROPERTY FOR THE PURPOSE OF CREATING A DEMAND FOR LOANS FROM FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS SO THAT THE FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION MAY INSURE SUCH INSTITUTIONS AGAINST LOSSES OR MAKE LOANS TO SAID INSTITUTIONS. ON THE CONTRARY, IT WOULD SEEM TO BE THE PURPOSE AND INTENT OF THE ENACTMENT THAT THE FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION IS TO MEET AN EXISTING DEMAND FOR FINANCIAL AID OR SUCH A DEMAND, IF NOT EXISTING, AS MAY BE CREATED BY PRIVATE INTERESTS RATHER THAN AT THE EXPENSE OF FUNDS MADE AVAILABLE TO THE FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION.

CONSEQUENTLY, ON THE PRESENT RECORD, IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT THE FUNDS MADE AVAILABLE BY SECTION 4, TITLE I OF THE ACT,"FOR THE PURPOSES OF CARRYING OUT THE PROVISIONS OF THIS TITLE AND TITLES II AND III," ARE AVAILABLE FOR EXPENSES OF CONDUCTING A CAMPAIGN SUCH AS REFERRED TO IN THE LETTER HEREINBEFORE QUOTED, AND THERE WOULD SEEM NO PROPER BASIS FOR TEMPORARILY EMPLOYING THOSE SO PRIVATELY ENGAGED IN CREATING A DEMAND FOR BENEFITS UNDER THE LAW AND FOR BETTER HOUSING, AND SO AS TO PERMIT AN ASSEMBLAGE OR GATHERING THEREOF INVOLVING TRAVEL, OR SUBSISTENCE AT PUBLIC EXPENSE. THERE APPEARS NOTHING, HOWEVER, PRECLUDING THE HOUSING ADMINISTRATION FROM EMPLOYING OTHER AND LAWFUL MEANS TO DISSEMINATE AUTHENTIC INFORMATION AS TO THE BENEFITS THE GOVERNMENT HAS MADE AVAILABLE TO THE CITIZENSHIP THROUGH THE ENACTMENT OF THE NATIONAL HOUSING ACT OR AS TO THE PROCEDURE NECESSARY TO OBTAIN SUCH BENEFITS.