December 31, 2005


Truman Declares Hostilities Ended: 51 Statutes to Die Government's Power to Seize Plants and 1 1/2 Billion Taxes to Go: 18 of Laws End at Once States of Emergency and War Continue-Sudden Action a Surprise to Washington (BERTRAM D. HULEN, 12/31/46, The New York Times)

An Administration official who has worked closely on the problem explained the significance of the action informally at the request of The New York Times.

"The proclamation terminating hostilities affects fifty-one laws," he said. "Twenty-nine of these laws are of relatively little importance, and have not been used for some time. Those considered to be of some importance at the present time continue on for periods, the majority of which are for six months so that any need for certain laws in the immediate future will be satisfied by the additional period in which they will continue to be effective.

"The most important law affected is the War Labor Disputes Act, commonly called the Smith-Connally Act. It will end July 1, 1947. However, under the operation of that law the Government will be unable to take over any new operations inasmuch as hostilities have now been declared to be terminated. It can continue to operate, however, in the meantime in any industry now in possession of the Government--the coal mines and the tugboats on the Great Lakes.

"There are three technical 'states' that have existed since 1939. The first is the state of emergency that consists of limited and unlimited emergency and special emergency. Those are still in existence. The second is the state of war, the third is the state of hostilities, now ended.

"The termination of a state of emergency continues to be a joint responsibility of Congress and the President. That doesn't mean it takes concurrent action to terminate. But the President should consider the attitude of Congress, and Congress should consider the attitude of the President in so far as state of emergency is concerned.

"The termination of all of the states of emergency would be a more serious matter than the termination of hostilities. It would affect a greater number of laws and would also create serious questions of policy in various industries, wages in shipyards, for example. The termination of hostilities does not have that effect.

"The third and most important is the state of war. Termination of this would affect something in the neighborhood of 250 statutes and also would create a number of important policy questions. It must be worked out gradually between Congress and the President."

President Truman told his news conference the time had come when the Executive Branch should give up some of the powers exercised during the war. He then announced his proclamation, gave out a list of the laws affected, and read a prepared statement which emphasized that his action was "entirely in keeping with the policies which I have consistently followed, in an effort to bring our economy and our Government back to a peacetime basis as quickly as possible."

In a few instances, he continued, the statutes affected contained powers that should be maintained during peacetime or for the remainder of the period of reconversion and in these instances he would make recommendations to the new Congress. Also, he said, he would make recommendations to Congress. Also, he said, he would make recommendations to Congress "in the near future" with respect to the still-continuing states of emergency and the state of war itself."

Upon concluding the reading of the statement, Mr. Truman sought to bring the conference to an end by wishing those present a happy New Year and saying he would meet them at another press conference on Thursday afternoon. But he finally yielded to persuasion and replied to a few questions with answers along the lines of his formal statement.

Asked whether this was a step in his promise to cooperate with the new Republican- controlled Congress, he replied that this was co-operating with Congress.

The President's action was generally regarded here as chiefly important from the psychological standpoint. It was viewed as a move to demonstrate that he wants to be a constitutional President and not to hold on to excessive powers granted to the Chief Executive through emergency proclamations and a state of war.

In addition, it is looked upon as an example to other nations to return to a peacetime structure. In effect, it was remarked in political circles, the President has said to Messrs., Attlee, Stalin and others that it is time for all the countries to get back to normal.

Politically, the action was regarded as anticipating any move the Republicans in Congress might have made to put Mr. Truman into a position of clinging to powers that they want to take away. The President for his part now says that he will tell Congress in a few days about the powers he needs to retain.

16 months after al Qaeda surrenders and upon the election of a Democratic congress it would be appropriate for George Bush to likewise give up some war powers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 31, 2005 11:34 AM

The problem is that George Bush won't be President then - or are you referring to his nephew from Florida?

Posted by: obc at December 31, 2005 12:15 PM

Never sounds soon enough.

Posted by: oj at December 31, 2005 12:19 PM