A-81264, NOVEMBER 21, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 512

A-81264: Nov 21, 1936

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ARE NOT FOR CONSIDERATION IN CONSTRUING A STATUTE. NOR IS IT PERMISSIBLE TO REFER TO COMMITTEE REPORTS. FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION ARE AUTHORIZED UNDER THE ACT OF JUNE 8. IF AND WHEN AN APPROPRIATION IS MADE AVAILABLE THEREFOR. THAT FEDERAL FUNDS ARE MATCHED BY STATE OR LOCAL FUNDS ON THE BASIS STIPULATED IN THE ACT. ENTITLED "AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION IN THE SEVERAL STATES AND TERRITORIES.' (1) WILL THE FAILURE OF A STATE TO COMPLY WITH THE MATCHING PROVISIONS OF SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 8. PRECLUDE THE STATE FROM RECEIVING THAT PORTION OF ITS POTENTIAL ALLOTMENT WHICH IS NOT TO BE MATCHED BY STATE FUNDS? (2) DOES THE FINAL PROVISO OF SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 8.

A-81264, NOVEMBER 21, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 512

STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION - FEDERAL AID TO STATES FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION OPINIONS OF INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, EXPRESSED IN DEBATE, ARE NOT FOR CONSIDERATION IN CONSTRUING A STATUTE, NOR IS IT PERMISSIBLE TO REFER TO COMMITTEE REPORTS, ETC., PRECEDING THE ENACTMENT OF A STATUTE TO CHANGE THE PLAIN IMPLICATION OF ITS WORDS OR TO CONSTRUE A STATUTE CONTRARY TO ITS PLAIN TERMS. FEDERAL PAYMENTS TO STATES, ETC., FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION ARE AUTHORIZED UNDER THE ACT OF JUNE 8, 1936, 49 STAT. 1488, IF AND WHEN AN APPROPRIATION IS MADE AVAILABLE THEREFOR, ONLY ON CONDITION, AND TO THE EXTENT, THAT FEDERAL FUNDS ARE MATCHED BY STATE OR LOCAL FUNDS ON THE BASIS STIPULATED IN THE ACT, BUT A STATE NEED NOT MATCH 50 PERCENT OF ITS MINIMUM OR ENTIRE POTENTIAL FEDERAL ALLOTMENT TO BE ENTITLED TO FEDERAL AID.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, NOVEMBER 21, 1936:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 24, 1936, AS FOLLOWS:

MAY I REQUEST YOUR DECISION UPON TWO QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE EXPENDITURE OF FUNDS AUTHORIZED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 8, 1936 (PUBLIC, NO. 673--- 74TH CONGRESS.) ENTITLED "AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION IN THE SEVERAL STATES AND TERRITORIES.'

(1) WILL THE FAILURE OF A STATE TO COMPLY WITH THE MATCHING PROVISIONS OF SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 8, 1936, PRECLUDE THE STATE FROM RECEIVING THAT PORTION OF ITS POTENTIAL ALLOTMENT WHICH IS NOT TO BE MATCHED BY STATE FUNDS?

(2) DOES THE FINAL PROVISO OF SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 8, 1936, PREVENT THE PRECEDING PROVISION FOR PERIODIC INCREASES OF THE PERCENTAGE OF THE FEDERAL GRANT TO BE MATCHED BY STATE FUNDS FROM OPERATING WITH REFERENCE TO THE MINIMUM ALLOTMENT OF $60,000, TO WHICH EACH STATE IS ENTITLED?

THE FIRST QUESTION ARISES BECAUSE OF AN AMBIGUITY IN THE REQUIREMENT OF THE STATUTE THAT THE SEVERAL STATES AND TERRITORIES "MATCH BY STATE OR LOCAL FUNDS, OR BOTH, 50 PERCENTUM OF THE APPROPRIATIONS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION UNTIL JUNE 30, 1942, * * *.' THIS LANGUAGE MAY MEAN THAT 50 PERCENT OF THE TOTAL ALLOTMENT TO A STATE IS AVAILABLE UNCONDITIONALLY AND 50 PERCENT IS AVAILABLE IF AND WHEN MATCHED BY STATE FUNDS, OR IT MAY MEAN THAT THE ENTIRE GRANT TO A STATE IS CONDITIONAL UPON A STATE CONTRIBUTION IN AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO 50 PERCENT OF THE AMOUNT TO BE RECEIVED FROM THE UNITED STATES.

ON THE FACE OF THE STATUTE IT WOULD SEEM THAT THE LATTER INTERPRETATION IS MORE REASONABLE. THE LAST PROVISO IN SECTION 1 REQUIRES A MATCHING OF 50 PERCENT OF A STIPULATED MINIMUM ALLOTMENT TO EACH STATE. THIS WOULD NOT BE CONSISTENT WITH AN UNCONDITIONAL GRANT OF 50 PERCENT OF THE MUCH LARGER ALLOTMENTS WHICH ARE POSSIBLE UNDER THIS SECTION. THE SAME INTERPRETATION IS SUGGESTED BY THE PROVISION OF SECTION 6 OF THE ACT, THAT "THE APPROPRIATIONS MADE BY THIS ACT * * * SHALL BE SUBJECT TO THE SAME CONDITIONS AND LIMITATIONS AS THE APPROPRIATIONS MADE BY" THE VOCATIONAL EDUCATION LAW OF FEBRUARY 23, 1917 (39 STAT. 929). UNDER THE EARLIER STATUTE A STATE CAN GET NO FUNDS FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION UNLESS IT SHALL CONTRIBUTE AN EQUAL AMOUNT OF ITS OWN FUNDS. THUS, IT IS ARGUABLE THAT THE NEW STATUTE, IN INCORPORATING THE "LIMITATIONS" OF THE 1917 ACT, CONTEMPLATES THE PRESERVATION OF THE SCHEME UNDER WHICH THE ENTIRE FEDERAL GRANT IS CONDITIONAL UPON STATE CONTRIBUTION, ALTHOUGH THE AMOUNT OF SUCH CONTRIBUTION IS EXPRESSLY REDUCED.

ON THE OTHER HAND, SOME OF THE LANGUAGE USED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DURING DEBATE UPON THE PRESENT BILL (80 CONG.REC. 8191 8207) LENDS COLOR TO THE CONTENTION THAT CONGRESS CONTEMPLATED THE POSSIBILITY OF FEDERAL AID WITHOUT ANY STATE CONTRIBUTION. THUS, MR. TARVER IN EXPLAINING THE MEASURE STATED THAT THE BILL "PROVIDES THAT A CERTAIN PROPORTION OF THESE FUNDS SHALL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE STATE WITHOUT MATCHING" (AT PAGES 8192-3). LATER HE REFERRED TO THE PROVISION NOW IN QUESTION AS "REQUIRING THAT 50 PERCENT OF THIS MONEY SHALL BE ALLOCATED WITHOUT BEING MATCHED BY THE STATES" (AT PAGE 8200). HOWEVER, SUCH LANGUAGE IS ITSELF AMBIGUOUS AND IS NOT NECESSARILY INCONSISTENT WITH THE INTERPRETATION SUGGESTED IN THE PRECEDING PARAGRAPH.

I HAVE ASSUMED THAT, WHATEVER YOUR DECISION MAY BE UPON THIS FIRST QUESTION, A STATE WILL NOT BE REQUIRED TO MATCH 50 PERCENT OF ITS ENTIRE POTENTIAL FEDERAL ALLOTMENT, OR EVEN 50 PERCENT OF ITS MINIMUM ALLOTMENT, TO BE ENTITLED TO SOME FEDERAL AID UNDER SECTION 1. ON THE CONTRARY, IT IS THE VIEW OF THIS DEPARTMENT THAT ANY CONTRIBUTION BY A STATE WITHIN THE LIMITS OF ITS POTENTIAL ALLOTMENT WILL ENTITLE THAT STATE TO RECEIVE TWICE THAT AMOUNT OUT OF THE FEDERAL APPROPRIATION. WILL YOU CONFIRM THIS CONSTRUCTION IF IT IS CORRECT?

THE FINAL PROVISO OF SECTION 1 UNDER WHICH THE SECOND QUESTION ARISES EXPRESSLY PROVIDES FOR THE MATCHING OF 50 PERCENT OF THE STIPULATED MINIMUM ALLOTMENT TO EACH STATE, BUT NO MENTION IS MADE OF ANY PERIODIC INCREASE IN THE STATE CONTRIBUTION. HOWEVER, THE MINIMUM ALLOTMENT AND THE APPROPRIATION AUTHORIZED THEREFOR ARE PART OF THE LARGER SUM OF $12,000,000 WHICH MAY BE APPROPRIATED ANNUALLY FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION, AS PROVIDED IN THE FIRST SENTENCE OF THE SECTION. THAT FIRST SENTENCE CONTAINS THE GENERAL PROVISION FOR PERIODIC INCREASES IN THE REQUIRED STATE CONTRIBUTION AND IN TERMS APPLIES TO "THE APPROPRIATIONS AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS SECTION.' THIS LANGUAGE WOULD SEEM TO EMBRACE THE SUBSEQUENT PROVISION FOR A MINIMUM ALLOTMENT. THAT SUBSEQUENT PROVISION WILL BE CONSISTENT WITH THE LANGUAGE WHICH PRECEDES IT IF THE REQUIREMENT THAT 50 PERCENT OF THE MINIMUM ALLOTMENTS BE MATCHED BY THE STATE IS INTERPRETED AS BEING APPLICABLE ONLY UNTIL JUNE 30, 1942, AFTER WHICH DATE THE GENERAL REQUIREMENT OF LARGER STATE CONTRIBUTIONS BECOMES OPERATIVE.

IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT APPROPRIATIONS FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION ARE NOW BEING CONSIDERED IN THE PREPARATION OF MANY STATE BUDGETS, I AM VERY ANXIOUS TO BE ABLE TO GIVE AN AUTHORITATIVE ANSWER TO THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED IN THIS SUBMISSION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. FOR THIS REASON YOUR DECISION UPON THESE QUESTIONS IS REQUESTED AT THE EARLIEST CONVENIENT DATE.

IN CONNECTION WITH THE MATCHING PROVISIONS OF SECTION 1 OF THE ACT YOU REFER TO CERTAIN DISCUSSIONS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES WITH RESPECT THERETO. WHILE THERE WAS SOME DISCUSSION IN CONNECTION WITH CONSIDERATION AND PASSAGE OF THE BILL BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THE DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING THE MATCHING PROVISIONS, FOR THE MOST PART, DEALT WITH A CERTAIN REJECTED AMENDMENT WHICH, IF PASSED, WOULD HAVE REQUIRED THE MATCHING OF THE ENTIRE AMOUNT TO BE ALLOTTED BY THE GOVERNMENT.

IT IS A WELL-ESTABLISHED RULE OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION THAT OPINIONS OF INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, EXPRESSED IN DEBATE, ARE NOT FOR CONSIDERATION IN CONSTRUING A STATUTE (ALDRIDGE V. WILLIAMS, 3 HOW. AND THAT IT IS NOT PERMISSIBLE TO REFER TO COMMITTEE REPORTS, ETC., PRECEDING THE ENACTMENT OF A STATUTE, TO CHANGE THE PLAIN IMPLICATION OF THE WORDS OF THE STATUTE (CINCINNATI V. UNITED STATES, 242 U.S. 470) OR FOR THE PURPOSE OF CONSTRUING A STATUTE CONTRARY TO ITS PLAIN TERMS (PENN.R.R.CO. V. INTERNATIONAL COAL CO., 230 U.S. 184). SEE ALSO, 11 COMP. GEN. 380; 14 ID. 638, AND 15 ID. 582.

AN EXAMINATION OF THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE PRESENT ACT DISCLOSES THAT A BILL, H.R. 8211, WAS INTRODUCED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MAY 24, 1935, CONTAINING THE PROVISION "THAT THE SEVERAL STATES AND TERRITORIES SHALL NOT BE REQUIRED TO MATCH MORE THAN 50 PERCENTUM OF THE APPROPRIATIONS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION PRIOR TO JULY 1, 1941," WITH NO SEPARATE PROVISION WITH RESPECT TO MATCHING ANY PART OF THE MINIMUM ALLOTMENT OF FUNDS TO ANY STATE OR TERRITORY. A BILL, H.R. 8809, INTRODUCED JULY 10, 1935, CONTAINED THE FOLLOWING PROVISION: "THAT THE SEVERAL STATES AND TERRITORIES SHALL NOT BE REQUIRED TO MATCH THE MINIMUM ALLOTMENTS TO THE SEVERAL STATES AND TERRITORIES NOR MORE THAN 50 PERCENTUM OF ALL OTHER APPROPRIATIONS IN EXCESS OF SUCH MINIMUM ALLOTMENTS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION.' THE BILL, H.R. 12120, WHICH FINALLY BECAME THE ACT HERE IN QUESTION, CONTAINED, WHEN ORIGINALLY INTRODUCED APRIL 1, 1936, THE PROVISION "THAT THE SEVERAL STATES AND TERRITORIES SHALL NOT BE REQUIRED TO MATCH MORE THAN 50 PERCENTUM OF THE APPROPRIATIONS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION" WITH NO SEPARATE PROVISION FOR MATCHING ANY PART OF THE MINIMUM ALLOTMENT. WHEN SAID BILL WAS REPORTED TO THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HOUSE, APRIL 6, 1936, THE LAST ABOVE-QUOTED PROVISION HAD BEEN STRICKEN THEREFROM. AND IN THE BILL AS FINALLY ENACTED JUNE 8, 1936, 49 STAT. 1488, IT WAS PROVIDED, IN SECTION 1, AS FOLLOWS:

THAT FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING FOR THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION IN THE SEVERAL STATES AND TERRITORIES THERE IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED TO BE APPROPRIATED FOR THE FISCAL YEAR BEGINNING JULY 1, 1937, AND ANNUALLY THEREAFTER, THE SUM OF $12,000,000: PROVIDED, THAT THE SEVERAL STATES AND TERRITORIES SHALL BE REQUIRED TO MATCH BY STATE OR LOCAL FUNDS OR BOTH 50 PERCENTUM OF THE APPROPRIATIONS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION UNTIL JUNE 30, 1942, 60 PERCENTUM FOR THE YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1943, 70 PERCENTUM FOR THE YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1944, 80 PERCENTUM FOR THE YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1945, 90 PERCENTUM FOR THE YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1946, AND ANNUALLY THEREAFTER 100 PERCENTUM OF THE APPROPRIATIONS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION. ONE-THIRD OF THIS SUM EACH YEAR SHALL BE ALLOTTED TO THE STATES AND TERRITORIES IN THE PROPORTION THAT THEIR FARM POPULATION BEARS TO THE TOTAL FARM POPULATION OF THE UNITED STATES AND TERRITORIES, ACCORDING TO THE UNITED STATES CENSUS LAST PRECEDING THE END OF THE FISCAL YEAR IN WHICH ANY SUCH ALLOTMENT IS MADE, AND SHALL BE USED FOR THE SALARIES AND NECESSARY TRAVEL EXPENSES OF TEACHERS, SUPERVISORS, AND DIRECTORS OF AGRICULTURAL SUBJECTS IN SUCH STATES AND TERRITORIES. ONE-THIRD OF THE SUM APPROPRIATED FOR EACH FISCAL YEAR SHALL BE ALLOTTED TO THE STATES AND TERRITORIES IN THE PROPORTION THAT THEIR RURAL POPULATION BEARS TO THE TOTAL RURAL POPULATION OF THE UNITED STATES AND TERRITORIES, ACCORDING TO THE UNITED STATES CENSUS LAST PRECEDING THE END OF THE FISCAL YEAR IN WHICH ANY SUCH ALLOTMENT IS TO BE MADE, AND SHALL BE USED FOR THE SALARIES AND TRAVEL EXPENSES OF TEACHERS, SUPERVISORS, AND DIRECTORS OF HOME-ECONOMICS SUBJECTS IN SUCH STATES AND TERRITORIES. ONE-THIRD OF THE SUM APPROPRIATED FOR EACH FISCAL YEAR SHALL BE ALLOTTED TO THE STATES AND TERRITORIES IN THE PROPORTION THAT THEIR NONFARM POPULATION BEARS TO THE TOTAL NONFARM POPULATION OF THE UNITED STATES AND TERRITORIES, ACCORDING TO THE UNITED STATES CENSUS LAST PRECEDING THE END OF THE FISCAL YEAR IN WHICH ANY SUCH ALLOTMENT IS TO BE MADE, AND SHALL BE USED FOR THE SALARIES AND NECESSARY TRAVEL EXPENSES OF TEACHERS, SUPERVISORS, AND DIRECTORS OF TRADE AND INDUSTRIAL SUBJECTS, IN SUCH STATES AND TERRITORIES: PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT THE ALLOTMENT OF FUNDS TO ANY STATE OR TERRITORY FOR EACH OF THE THREE PURPOSES ENUMERATED IN THIS SECTION SHALL BE NOT LESS THAN A MINIMUM OF $20,000 FOR ANY FISCAL YEAR, 50 PERCENTUM OF WHICH SHALL BE MATCHED BY STATE OR LOCAL FUNDS OR BOTH, AND THERE IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED TO BE APPROPRIATED FOR THE FISCAL YEAR BEGINNING JULY 1, 1937, AND ANNUALLY THEREAFTER THE SUM OF $175,000, OR SO MUCH THEREOF AS MAY BE NEEDED, WHICH SHALL BE USED FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING THE MINIMUM ALLOTMENTS TO THE STATES AND TERRITORIES PROVIDED FOR IN THIS SECTION.

SECTION 6 OF THE ACT PROVIDES THAT THE APPROPRIATIONS AUTHORIZED UNDER SAID ACT "SHALL BE IN ADDITION TO, AND SHALL BE SUBJECT TO THE SAME CONDITIONS AND LIMITATIONS AS, THE APPROPRIATIONS MADE BY THE ACT" OF FEBRUARY 23, 1917, 39 STAT. 929, WITH CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS, AND SECTION 9 OF THE SAID ACT OF FEBRUARY 23, 1917, CONTAINED A PROVISION AS FOLLOWS:

* * * THE MONEYS EXPENDED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT, IN COOPERATION WITH THE STATES, FOR THE SALARIES OF TEACHERS, SUPERVISORS, OR DIRECTORS OF AGRICULTURAL SUBJECTS, OR FOR THE SALARIES OF TEACHERS OF TRADE, HOME ECONOMICS, AND INDUSTRIAL SUBJECTS, SHALL BE CONDITIONED THAT FOR EACH DOLLAR OF FEDERAL MONEY EXPENDED FOR SUCH SALARIES THE STATE OR LOCAL COMMUNITY, OR BOTH, SHALL EXPEND AN EQUAL AMOUNT FOR SUCH SALARIES;

IN LIGHT OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF PREVIOUS LEGISLATION INVOLVING VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE PRESENT ACT, THERE SEEMS LITTLE, IF ANY, ROOM FOR REASONABLE DOUBT AS TO THE MEANING AND LEGAL EFFECT OF THE LANGUAGE USED WITH RESPECT TO THE MATCHING PROVISIONS OF SAID SECTION 1 OF THE ACT.

YOUR FIRST QUESTION IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE. THAT IS TO SAY, PAYMENTS OF THE AUTHORIZED ALLOTMENT IN EACH CASE, IF AND WHEN AN APPROPRIATION IS MADE AVAILABLE THEREFOR, ARE AUTHORIZED ONLY ON CONDITION AND TO THE EXTENT THAT THE FEDERAL FUNDS ARE MATCHED BY STATE OR LOCAL FUNDS ON THE BASIS STIPULATED IN THE ACT. YOUR VIEW THAT A STATE WILL NOT BE REQUIRED TO MATCH 50 PERCENT OF ITS ENTIRE POTENTIAL FEDERAL ALLOTMENT, OR EVEN 50 PERCENT OF ITS MINIMUM ALLOTMENT, TO BE ENTITLED TO SOME FEDERAL AID UNDER SECTION 1 AND THAT ANY CONTRIBUTION BY A STATE WITHIN THE LIMITS OF ITS POTENTIAL ALLOTMENT WILL ENTITLE THAT STATE TO RECEIVE TWICE THE AMOUNT OF SUCH CONTRIBUTION OUT OF THE FEDERAL APPROPRIATION, IS CORRECT.

YOUR SECOND QUESTION IS NOT PROPERLY FOR ANSWERING CATEGORICALLY BY THIS OFFICE AT THIS TIME BECAUSE, INSOFAR AS IT AFFECTS THE EXPENDITURE OF FEDERAL FUNDS, SUCH QUESTION CANNOT ARISE UNTIL JULY 1, 1942. IF THERE BE DOUBT AS TO WHETHER, BEGINNING WITH THE FISCAL YEAR 1943, THERE SHALL BE AN INCREASE IN THE PERCENTUM OF THE MINIMUM ALLOTMENTS TO BE MATCHED BY STATE OR LOCAL FUNDS, AND IT IS DESIRABLE FOR PURPOSES OF ADMINISTRATION TO HAVE THAT DOUBT RESOLVED BEFORE FUNDS TO COVER THE ALLOTMENTS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1943 ARE APPROPRIATED, THE MATTER SHOULD BE PRESENTED TO THE CONGRESS FOR CLARIFICATION.