A-94590, MAY 4, 1938, 17 COMP. GEN. 909

A-94590: May 4, 1938

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- THE PLAIN AND OBVIOUS MEANING OF THE STATUTE IS THAT STATION WAGONS ARE EXCLUDED FROM THE PURCHASE PRICE LIMITATION BUT ARE INCLUDED IN THE REPAIR LIMITATION. NOTWITHSTANDING THEY ARE USED ON OCCASION FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF PATIENTS. IS AS FOLLOWS: SECTION 3. THESE VEHICLES CARRY SEVEN PASSENGERS AND AN OPERATOR AND ARE USED TO PROVIDE RECREATION FOR PATIENTS. TO HAUL INCOMING AND DEPARTING PATIENTS TO AND FROM TRAINS AND TO CALL FOR PATIENTS WITHIN THE TERRITORY OF A VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY WHEN PUBLIC CARRIER TRANSPORTATION IS NOT READILY AVAILABLE. OR WHEN THE USE OF SUCH TRANSPORTATION IS NOT DESIRABLE OR PRACTICABLE BECAUSE OF THE PHYSICAL CONDITION OF THE PATIENT. THESE VEHICLES HAVE REMOVABLE SEATS AND ARE ALSO USED WITH SEATS REMOVED FOR TRANSPORTING LUGGAGE OF PATIENTS AND MAIL.

A-94590, MAY 4, 1938, 17 COMP. GEN. 909

VEHICLES - MOTOR - PASSENGER-CARRYING - PURCHASE AND REPAIR LIMITATIONS CLASSIFICATION OF STATION WAGONS WHERE A STATUTORY PROVISION, LIMITING THE AMOUNT WHICH MAY BE EXPENDED TO PURCHASE ANY MOTOR-PROPELLED PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLE, EXPRESSLY EXCLUDES BUSSES, AMBULANCES AND STATION WAGONS FROM THE LIMITATION, AND ANOTHER PROVISION OF THE SAME STATUTE, LIMITING THE AMOUNT WHICH MAY BE EXPENDED FOR THE MAINTENANCE, UPKEEP, AND REPAIR OF ANY SUCH VEHICLE, EXPRESSLY EXCLUDES ONLY BUSSES AND AMBULANCES--- AS IN SECTION 3, ACT, MAY 14, 1937, 50 STAT. 163--- THE PLAIN AND OBVIOUS MEANING OF THE STATUTE IS THAT STATION WAGONS ARE EXCLUDED FROM THE PURCHASE PRICE LIMITATION BUT ARE INCLUDED IN THE REPAIR LIMITATION, AND THE CLASSIFICATION OF STATION WAGONS AS ,BUSSES" UNDER THE REPAIR LIMITATION IN UNTENABLE AND CLEARLY UNAUTHORIZED, NOTWITHSTANDING THEY ARE USED ON OCCASION FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF PATIENTS.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, MAY 4, 1938:

YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 27, 1938, IS AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 3, TITLE II, PUBLIC, NO. 77, 75TH CONGRESS, APPROVED MAY 14, 1937, PROVIDES:

"NO APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1938, WHETHER CONTAINED IN THIS ACT OR ANY OTHER ACT, SHALL BE EXPENDED---

"/A) TO PURCHASE ANY MOTOR-PROPELLED PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLE (EXCLUSIVE OF BUSSES, AMBULANCES, AND STATION WAGONS), AT A COST, COMPLETELY EQUIPPED FOR OPERATION, AND INCLUDING THE VALUE OF ANY VEHICLE EXCHANGED, IN EXCESS OF $750, UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED FOR IN THE APPROPRIATION.

"/B) * * *

"/C) FOR THE MAINTENANCE, UPKEEP, AND REPAIR (EXCLUSIVE OF GARAGE RENT, PAY OF OPERATORS, TIRES, FUEL, AND LUBRICANTS) ON ANY ONE MOTOR PROPELLED PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLE, EXCEPT BUSSES AND AMBULANCES, IN EXCESS OF ONE -THIRD OF THE MARKET PRICE OF A NEW VEHICLE OF THE SAME MAKE AND CLASS AND IN NO CASE IN EXCESS OF $400.'

THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION PURCHASES MOTOR-PROPELLED PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES KNOWN AS ,STATION WAGONS.' THESE VEHICLES CARRY SEVEN PASSENGERS AND AN OPERATOR AND ARE USED TO PROVIDE RECREATION FOR PATIENTS, TO HAUL INCOMING AND DEPARTING PATIENTS TO AND FROM TRAINS AND TO CALL FOR PATIENTS WITHIN THE TERRITORY OF A VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY WHEN PUBLIC CARRIER TRANSPORTATION IS NOT READILY AVAILABLE, OR WHEN THE USE OF SUCH TRANSPORTATION IS NOT DESIRABLE OR PRACTICABLE BECAUSE OF THE PHYSICAL CONDITION OF THE PATIENT. THESE VEHICLES HAVE REMOVABLE SEATS AND ARE ALSO USED WITH SEATS REMOVED FOR TRANSPORTING LUGGAGE OF PATIENTS AND MAIL, AND LIGHT WEIGHT SHIPMENTS OF SUPPLIES TO AND FROM RAILROAD DEPOTS.

IT WILL BE NOTED THAT SECTION 3 (C) OF THE ACT SUPRA EXCLUDES BY NAME BUSSES AND AMBULANCES FROM ITS PROVISIONS BUT DOES NOT EXCLUDE STATION WAGONS, WHILE SECTION 3 (A) EXEMPTS STATION WAGONS FROM THE STATUTORY LIMITATION ON THE AMOUNT THAT MAY BE EXPENDED FOR PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES.

THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FEELS THAT STATION WAGONS PROPERLY MAY BE CLASSIFIED AS "BUSSES" IN VIEW OF THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH THEY ARE USED, AS ABOVE INDICATED, AND THAT THE STATUTORY LIMITATION ON THE AMOUNT THAT MAY BE EXPENDED FOR THE MAINTENANCE, UPKEEP, AND REPAIR OF MOTOR-PROPELLED PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES SHOULD NOT APPLY TO STATION WAGONS. YOUR ADVICE IN THE PREMISES AT AN EARLY DATE WILL BE APPRECIATED.

THE DOUBLE UTILITY CHARACTERISTICS OF "STATION WAGONS" DOUBTLESS ARE KNOWN TO MOST OF THOSE FAMILIAR WITH AUTOMOTIVE VEHICLES, THAT IS, THE FACT THAT THEY ARE DESIGNED AND EQUIPPED FOR USE EITHER AS PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES OR, UPON OCCASION, AS LIGHT TRUCKS OR DELIVERY WAGONS. THE USES OF SUCH VEHICLES BY THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION AS OUTLINED IN YOUR LETTER ARE NO DIFFERENT FROM THOSE FOR WHICH STATION WAGONS ARE DESIGNED AND GENERALLY USED BY THEIR OWNERS, AND THE FACT THAT THEY ARE SO USED BY THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION RATHER THAN SOME OTHER DEPARTMENT OR AGENCY OF THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT ALTER THE SITUATION IN THAT RESPECT. SEE 14 COMP. GEN. 367.

THE CONGRESS NOT ONLY HAS CLASSED STATION WAGONS AS PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES BY EXCLUDING THEM FROM THE OPERATION OF THE PRICE LIMIT PRESCRIBED FOR OTHER PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES IN SECTION 3 (A), TITLE II, OF THE QUOTED ENACTMENT, BUT HAS, IN THE SAME PHRASE, DIFFERENTIATED THEM FROM THE CLASS OF PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES KNOWN AS "BUSSES.' OTHERWISE, THERE WOULD BE NO PURPOSE IN SEPARATE MENTION OF STATION WAGONS IN THE QUALIFYING PHRASE OF THE LAW.

AGAIN, IN SECTION 3 (C), THE CONGRESS HAS SPECIFICALLY EXCEPTED "BUSSES AND AMBULANCES" FROM APPLICATION OF THE MAINTENANCE, UPKEEP, AND REPAIR LIMITATION, BUT HAS NOT SO EXCLUDED STATION WAGONS FROM ITS OPERATION. THE MAXIM EXPRESSIO UNIUS EST EXCLUSIO ALTERIUS CLEARLY IS APPLICABLE, AND ITS APPLICATION IS EMPHASIZED BY EXPRESS MENTION OF STATION WAGONS IN THE PRECEDING SUBSECTION OF THE LAW. THE PLAIN, OBVIOUS, AND RATIONAL MEANING OF THE PHRASEOLOGY USED IN THE STATUTE AND--- IT MAY BE ADDED--- THE ONLY RATIONAL MEANING, IS THAT STATION WAGONS ARE EXCLUDED FROM THE $750 PRICE LIMIT PROVISION AND SO MAY BE PURCHASED AT PRICES IN EXCESS OF THAT AMOUNT, IF OTHERWISE PROPER, BUT ARE INCLUDED IN THE MAINTENANCE, UPKEEP AND REPAIR LIMITATIONS. CONSEQUENTLY NO AMOUNT IN EXCESS OF ONE-THIRD OF THE MARKET PRICE OF A NEW VEHICLE OF THE SAME MAKE AND CLASS, AND IN NO CASE IN EXCESS OF $400, LEGALLY MAY BE EXPENDED FOR THE MAINTENANCE, UPKEEP, AND REPAIR OF A STATION WAGON, EXCLUSIVE OF THE ITEMS EXCEPTED IN THE STATUTE.

IN VIEW OF THE EXPRESS PROVISIONS OF THE STATUTE QUOTED AND OTHERS OF SIMILAR IMPORT, THERE APPEARS NO TENABLE THEORY UPON WHICH THE VIEW STATED IN THE CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER COULD BE SUPPORTED. TO INVOKE SUCH A VIEW IN AN EFFORT TO EVADE THE STATUTORY LIMITATION AS TO MAINTENANCE, UPKEEP AND REPAIR, WOULD BE IN THE VERY TEETH OF THE EXPRESS, MANIFEST, AND OBVIOUS MEANING OF THE STATUTORY PROHIBITION.