A-80355, SEPTEMBER 18, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 268

A-80355: Sep 18, 1936

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THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR READING INTO THE STATUTE THE MORE LIBERAL PROVISIONS OF A TRIBAL RESOLUTION PRESENTED TO A SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE PROPOSING GIFTS INSTEAD OF LOANS IN THE CASE OF INDIGENT MEMBERS. SAID FUNDS ARE NOT AVAILABLE TO SUCH MEMBERS WITHOUT A REQUIREMENT FOR REIMBURSEMENT. THE FOLLOWING DISCUSSION OF THIS ITEM IS TAKEN FROM THE PRINTED HEARINGS BEFORE THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: "STATEMENT OF BEN F. WILL YOU COME FORWARD. HAVE YOU AN AMENDMENT THAT YOU WANT TO OFFER TO THE COMMITTEE? WILL YOU GIVE YOUR NAME FOR THE RECORD? THIS IS AN ITEM WHICH IS TAKEN FROM THE KLAMATH TRIBAL FUNDS. IT IS NOT AN APPROPRIATION OUT OF THE TREASURY.

A-80355, SEPTEMBER 18, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 268

INDIGENT INDIANS - REIMBURSEMENT OF BURIAL EXPENSE ADVANCES MONEYS APPROPRIATED FROM TRIBAL FUNDS OF THE KLAMATH INDIANS BY THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ACT OF JUNE 22, 1936, 49 STAT. 1778, HAVING BEEN MADE SPECIFICALLY AVAILABLE "FOR LOANS" TO COVER BURIAL EXPENSES, THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR READING INTO THE STATUTE THE MORE LIBERAL PROVISIONS OF A TRIBAL RESOLUTION PRESENTED TO A SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE PROPOSING GIFTS INSTEAD OF LOANS IN THE CASE OF INDIGENT MEMBERS, AND SAID FUNDS ARE NOT AVAILABLE TO SUCH MEMBERS WITHOUT A REQUIREMENT FOR REIMBURSEMENT.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, SEPTEMBER 18, 1936:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 28, 1936, AS FOLLOWS:

THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ACT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1937 PROVIDES FOR THE APPROPRIATION OF $10,000 FROM TRIBAL FUNDS OF THE KLAMATH INDIAN TRIBE, WHICH AMOUNT "SHALL BE AVAILABLE IN A PERMANENT REVOLVING FUND FOR LOANS TO COVER BURIAL EXPENSES OF MEMBERS OF THE TRIBE, AND PAYMENTS IN LIQUIDATION OF SUCH LOANS SHALL BE CREDITED TO THE REVOLVING FUND AND SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR LOANS FOR SIMILAR PURPOSES UNDER REGULATIONS TO BE PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR.'

THE FOLLOWING DISCUSSION OF THIS ITEM IS TAKEN FROM THE PRINTED HEARINGS BEFORE THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE:

"STATEMENT OF BEN F. MITCHELL, REPRESENTING THE KLAMATH INDIANS, KLAMATH RESERVATION, OREG.

"SENATOR HAYDEN. WILL YOU COME FORWARD, MR. MITCHELL? HAVE YOU AN AMENDMENT THAT YOU WANT TO OFFER TO THE COMMITTEE?

"MR MITCHELL. YES.

"SENATOR HAYDEN. WILL YOU GIVE YOUR NAME FOR THE RECORD?

"MR. MITCHELL. BEN F. MITCHELL.

"SENATOR HAYDEN. YOU MAY PROCEED.

"SENATOR MCKELLAR. WHAT PAGE OF THE BILL?

"MR. MITCHELL. PAGE 54, LINE 8. THIS IS AN ITEM WHICH IS TAKEN FROM THE KLAMATH TRIBAL FUNDS. IT IS NOT AN APPROPRIATION OUT OF THE TREASURY, AND WE ARE ASKING THAT FUNDS THAT HAVE BEEN APPROPRIATED HERETOFORE BE INCLUDED IN OUR ANNUAL BUDGET INSTEAD OF IN THE GENERAL APPROPRIATION ACT FOR ALL INDIANS. IT IS ALL TRIBAL FUNDS, AND I WISH TO INSERT IT IN THESE WORDS.

" "ON PAGE 54, LINE 6, STRIKE OUT THE FIGURES "$55,000" AND INSERT (READING): "$73,000 OF WHICH $4,000 SHALL BE AVAILABLE ONLY FOR TRAVELING AND OTHER EXPENSES OF MEMBERS OF THE TRIBAL COUNCIL OR REPRESENTATIVES OF THE TRIBE ENGAGED ON BUSINESS OF THE TRIBE AT THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT; NOT MORE THAN $4,000 MAY BE USED FOR FEES AND EXPENSES OF AN ATTORNEY OR FIRM OF ATTORNEYS SELECTED BY THE KLAMATH TRIBE AND EMPLOYED UNDER CONTRACT APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR IN ACCORDANCE WITH EXISTING LAW; AND $10,000 SHALL BE AVAILABLE IN A PERMANENT REVOLVING FUND FOR LOANS TO COVER BURIAL EXPENSES OF MEMBERS OF THE TRIBE, AND PAYMENTS IN LIQUIDATION OF SUCH LOANS SHALL BE CREDITED TO THE REVOLVING FUND AND SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR LOANS FOR SIMILAR PURPOSES UNDER REGULATIONS TO BE PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR" "

"THAT LAST ITEM THERE IS SOMETHING THAT WE HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET FOR SOME TIME. THE TRIBE WENT INTO IT VERY EXTENSIVELY AND AUTHORIZED US TO TAKE THE MATTER UP WITH THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE, AND IT IS MERELY A FUND TAKEN, AS I SAID BEFORE, OUT OF TRIBAL FUNDS OF THE KLAMATH INDIANS.

"SENATOR THOMAS OF OKLAHOMA. HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU HAVE IN THE TRIBAL FUNDS AT THIS TIME?

"MR. MITCHELL. I DO NOT HAVE THE EXACT AMOUNT.

"MR. DODD. APPROXIMATELY $271,000 AT THE PRESENT TIME. INCOME FOR THE LAST YEAR WAS $223,807.

"SENATOR HAYDEN. THEY HAVE A SUBSTANTIAL INCOME EVERY YEAR?

"MR. DODD. YES, SIR.

"SENATOR HAYDEN. FROM WHAT SOURCE?

"MR. DODD. FROM THE SALE OF TIMBER ON THE RESERVATION.

"SENATOR STEIWER. THIS AMENDMENT HAS BEEN PRESENTED TO THE TRIBE?

"MR. MITCHELL. YES, SIR; I HAVE A RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE TRIBE. I DO NOT KNOW WHETHER IT IS IMPORTANT TO INSERT IT IN THE RECORD OR NOT.

"SENATOR STEIWER, HOW LONG IS IT?

"MR. MITCHELL. IT IS NOT VERY LONG.

"SENATOR STEIWER. I SUGGEST THAT YOU PUT IN THE AMENDMENT AND THE RESOLUTION.

"MR. MITCHELL. YES, SIR.

"/THE RESOLUTION REFERRED TO IS AS FOLLOWS:)

" "RESOLVED, THAT $10,000 BE SET ASIDE FROM ANY BALANCE OR BALANCES OF FUNDS PLACED TO THE CREDIT OF THE KLAMATH TRIBES, IN THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES, TO BE KNOWN AS INDIGENT FUNDS OF THE KLAMATHS, ESTABLISHED FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF THE BURIAL OF INDIGENT MEMBERS ET AL., WHO MAY AT THE MOMENT OR AT TIME OF DEMISE BE IN THE DESTITUTE STATUS. SAME SHALL BE PRORATED AS FOLLOWS: MEMBERS WHO MAY BE ENTIRELY WITHOUT FUNDS TO HIS OR HER CREDIT AND WITHOUT AN ESTATE SHALL BE ALLOWED THE SUM OF $250 FOR SUCH PURPOSE, AND SAID AMOUNT SHALL NOT BE REIMBURSED THE KLAMATH TRIBAL INDIGENT FUND.

" "MEMBERS AT TIME OF DEATH, WITHOUT FUNDS TO HIS OR HER CREDIT, BUT WHO HAS AN INTEREST IN AN ESTATE, SHALL BE ALLOWED THE SUM OF $350; THIS AMOUNT SHALL BE REIMBURSED THE AFORESAID KLAMATH TRIBAL INDIGENT FUNDS UPON PROBATE OF SAID ESTATE.'"

IN VIEW OF THE EVIDENT INTENTION OF THE INDIANS, AS SHOWN BY THE RESOLUTION OF THE KLAMATH INDIAN TRIBAL COUNCIL, AND THE COMMITTEE, TO PROVIDE FUNDS FOR THE BURIAL OF INDIGENT MEMBERS OF THE TRIBE IN THE AMOUNT OF $250 FROM THIS FUND WITHOUT THE REQUIREMENT THAT SUCH AMOUNT SHALL BE REIMBURSED TO THE KLAMATH TRIBAL INDIGENT FUND, YOUR ADVICE IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER, UNDER THE WORDING OF THE ABOVE ITEM IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT, FUNDS MADE AVAILABLE THEREUNDER MAY BE USED IN THIS MANNER.

THE QUESTION MUST BE ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE. THE WORDING OF THE STATUTE IS PLAIN AND UNAMBIGUOUS, AND IT IS THE MOST ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLE OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION THAT LANGUAGE WHICH IS CLEAR NEEDS NO CONSTRUCTION AND THAT WHERE THERE IS NO AMBIGUITY IN THE TERMS OF A LAW THE MEANING MUST BE FOUND IN THE LANGUAGE IN WHICH IT IS EXPRESSED. YERKE V. UNITED STATES, 173 U.S. 439; UNITED STATES V. HILL, 248 U.S. 420. CAMINETTI V. UNITED STATES, 242 U.S. 470, 490, THE SUPREME COURT SAID:

REPORTS TO CONGRESS ACCOMPANYING THE INTRODUCTION OF PROPOSED LAWS MAY AID THE COURTS IN REACHING THE TRUE MEANING OF THE LEGISLATURE IN CASES OF DOUBTFUL INTERPRETATION, BLAKE V. NATIONAL BANKS, 23 WALL. 307, 319; BATE REFRIGERATING CO. V. SULZBERGER, 157 U.S. 1, 42; CHESAPEAKE AND POTOMAC TELEPHONE CO. V. MANNING, 186 U.S. 238, 246; BINNS V. UNITED STATES, 194, U.S. 486, 495. BUT, AS WE HAVE ALREADY SAID, AND IT HAS BEEN SO OFTEN AFFIRMED AS TO BECOME A RECOGNIZED RULE, WHEN WORDS ARE FREE FROM DOUBT THEY MUST BE TAKEN AS THE FINAL EXPRESSION OF THE LEGISLATIVE INTENT, AND ARE NOT TO BE ADDED TO OR SUBTRACTED FROM BY CONSIDERATIONS DRAWN FROM TITLES OR DESIGNATING NAMES OR REPORTS ACCOMPANYING THEIR INTRODUCTION, OR FROM ANY EXTRANEOUS SOURCE. IN OTHER WORDS, THE LANGUAGE BEING PLAIN, AND NOT LEADING TO ABSURD OR WHOLLY IMPRACTICABLE CONSEQUENCES, IT IS THE SOLE EVIDENCE OF THE ULTIMATE LEGISLATIVE INTENT. SEE MACKENZIE V. HARE, 239 U.S. 299, 308.

THE PROVISION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR APPROPRIATION ACT OF JUNE 22, 1936, 49 STAT. 1778, HERE IN QUESTION, SPECIFICALLY APPROPRIATED $10,000 FROM THE TRIBAL FUNDS OF THE KLAMATH INDIAN TRIBE TO BE AVAILABLE IN A PERMANENT REVOLVING FUND "FOR LOANS" TO COVER BURIAL EXPENSES OF MEMBERS OF THE TRIBE, WITH THE PROVISION THAT REPAYMENTS SHALL BE CREDITED TO THE FUND AND BE AVAILABLE "FOR LOANS" FOR SIMILAR PURPOSES. REFERENCE IS MADE IN THE STATUTE TO INDIGENT MEMBERS OF THE TRIBE OR TO THE RESOLUTION OF THE TRIBAL COUNCIL WHICH, IN EFFECT, PROPOSED GIFTS INSTEAD OF LOANS TO COVER BURIAL EXPENSES OF INDIGENT MEMBERS. WHY THE CONGRESS RESTRICTED THE APPROPRIATION TO LOANS MAY BE OPEN TO CONJECTURE, BUT CLEARLY THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR READING INTO THE STATUTE AS ENACTED THE MORE LIBERAL PROVISIONS OF THE TRIBAL RESOLUTION, NOT MENTIONED IN THE STATUTE.

ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE MONEY APPROPRIATED IS NOT AVAILABLE TO PROVIDE FUNDS FOR THE BURIAL OF INDIGENT MEMBERS OF THE TRIBE WITHOUT A REQUIREMENT THAT THE AMOUNT BE REIMBURSED TO THE REVOLVING FUND.