Слике страница
PDF
ePub

In one place we will have made more valuable the property In another place.

As to how much should be contributed toward this great scheme by each one of the various elements I ain not prepared to .state. It necessarily will he somewhat of an estimate wheu these questions are settled, as settled they must be. Each one, however, should bear a part of the expense, including, in my judgment, the lands farther down that are prevented from being overflowed by the works above, or by the levees in the immediate vicinity; but when they are all put together, each one contributing its proper share, including the Government, we will have attained the cheapest navigation, the cheapest flood control, the cheapest power, and the cheapest irrigation that can be obtained in any possible way.

In this connection I want to say a word to my senatorial friends from New England and from the East who are not in the Mississippi Valley, and who perhaps, at first blush, think they have no interest in this great question. I want to call their attention to the fact that they do not produce enough food to feed their own people; that the great Mississippi Valley is the food-producing part of the United States; and that when, in the semiarid country, the drought comes and blights the farmer's prospect, and he dues not raise any wheat, the price of bread in New England goes up. When he produces an abundant crop the price of food in Boston and In New York and in Chicago goes down.

Then we must not think that even as far west as Ohio and that great country we can get all the food that the people of this country need; but those who must produce our food under the uncertain circumstances of drought ought to be considered also. It is true that wheu drought comes those who happen to be in some small favored localities make larger amounts of money than though they produced a large crop. That, however, is an unnatural condition, a condition that \ve want to avoid, because those same communities probably lose it all by drought the next year. What would conduce and go toward promoting and maintaining the happiness of all the people, both West and East and North and South, would be a regulation of the water supply of this great valley so that, taking one year with another, we could have about the same crop production, and with the same consumption taking place we would have less variation in the prices that the producers get and the consumers must pay, because, after all, those in the East who depend upon the West and the South for the food they eat and the clothes they wear must remember that they ean not permanently prosper while a part of the country is in distress.

It is a law of human nature that one portion of the country can not permanently and properly and honestly be prosperous and happy while other great portions of the country are in distress and suffering from lack of the necessaries of life. If the food supply of the great West were practically constant from one year to another, it would not only to a great extent take the gambling out of farming in the West but it would to a great extent take away the uncertainty of the cost of living in the East. So, after all, no matter where we live or what may be our occupations, assuming that we are honest and that we are unselfish, that we want to do what is right for ourselves and for our fellow man, we must reach the conclusion that in this great problem, as well as in all other national problems, we are all in the same boat, and we are all going up or down together when we take one year with another.

This legislation in one place hints at and takes the first step toward this kind of a survey. If I had my way about It, I would make it much broader. I wanted to say this much, however, because* I believe the time will come—perhaps after many of us have disappeared from the scene, but it will come; and it will commence to come within the next few years—when the people of this country who study this question will reach the conclusion that in order to control the flood waters of the Mississippi River we must consider it on a national basis, and we must go into every tributary of the Mississippi River and develop restraining dams wherever God has made a reservoir site. When we have done that we will have contributed much to the equalization of the cost of living, and particularly to the solution of the farming problems of the West, and the promotion of the real happiness and contentment of all the people of the United States.

There is just a little in this bill that starts on the survey. It ought to be done in a much more comprehensive way. After this bill is passed and signed and has become a law, I look to nee the time come when Congress will provide for a complete survey, as great as the problem may be, and that in carrying out such a program we will ultimately start on what to me seems to be the proper solution of the flood-control problem—that is, to consider it as a national question; to consider not only the people in the lower Mississippi Valley who do not want the

water but the people in North Dakota, !n South Dakota, in Nebraska, and Kansas, and Oklahoma, where they do want the water, where they need it not only for their own good and their own prosperity but In the long run on the broader principle, for the prosperity and happiness of every suul who lives within the United States.

Mr. KING. Mr. President, it is not my purpose to detain the Senate very long. I appreciate the disadvantage in attempting to discuss a measure of such magnitude as the one now under consideration, where an opportunity has not been afforded me to listen to the hundreds of witnesses who have testified, or examine the thousand of pages of testimony which have been taken before committees of the House and the Senate in connection with the Mississippi flood-control problem. Aside from the general proposition Involved technical questions have been considered which require prolonged study to fully appreciate. Engineers of eminence have testified before the committees of the House and the Senate, and differences of opinion have arisen between them as to the project and the plans under which it is to be worked out. A great divergence of views has developed upon the part of many interested in the project, and many who have given it some consideration, as to just what is contemplated and how farreaching will be the effects or consequences of the proposed legislation.

When the matter was first brought to the attention of the country following the disastrous Hood of 1927 the general thought was that the Federal Government, in cooperation wit,h the States and with the districts and sections involved, would proceed to strengthen the levees of the Mississippi River and thus prevent further inundations of contiguous territory. But during the latter part of 1!)27 there developed a movement of no small proportions which grew in volume as Interested parties made known their views, which had for its object the taking over by the United States of practically the entire region between the Allegheny Mountains and the summit of the Rocky Mountains upon the theory that such course was necessary to provide against recurring floods.

Many conferences and meetings were held in various parts of the Mississippi Valley for the purpose of arousing pnWic sentiment and creating a demand for prompt action by Congress when it convened in December. Before the meeting of Congress one of the important committees of the House gave weeks to the consideration of the matter and heard the testimony of a large number of witnesses, who urged that the Government adopt a policy, which they denominated "national and comprehensive" in its character, for the protection of lands in the Mississippi Valley from future damages. Many plans wore urged before the committee, and later before the Senate Commerce Committee. Some of these plans, as I have stated, required the Federal Government to practically assume control over all springs, rivulets, and streams between the Rocky Mountains and the Allegheny Mountains. The question of the rights of the States to control the waters within their borders was wholly ignored by many who were urging Federal action. They proceeded upon the theory that there were no limitations upon the power of the Federal Government; that it was supreme and sovereign in dealing with domestic and local matters ami could enter States and take over their functions and restrict or destroy their authority. Under this view the States did not own nor did they have any control over the beds and banks of navigable streams within their borders or have any right to control the nonuavigable streams or exercise any supervision over the same, notwithstanding the fact that more than 100 years ago the Supreme Court of the United States had decided that the States had sovereign power over all the streams within their borders, subject only to the limitation that they could not interfere with navigation.

That view of the Supreme Court has been consistently adhered to by the courts of our country until the present time. In harmony with that position many States have adopted the riparian doctrine, while others have approved what is known as the doctrine of "appropriation." The Western States generally, because of the importance of irrigation, have enacted laws granting to prior appropriators the right to use the waters so appropriated for beneficial purposes. The States referred to enacted statutes providing for the method of appropriation and defining witli more or less particularity the use to which the waters might be put and the conditions and circumstances under which rights might be acquired, distribution made, and the interests of the public generally served. But, as stated, during the consideration of the Mississippi River flood situation, accepted and uncontested legal propositions became obsolete. Views were announced that the Federal Government had supreme and unrestricted authority to control all of the waters navigable and nounavigable within all States of the Union.

[graphic]

Under that view neither State nor Individual could acquire any rights in and to the beds or banks of .streams or the waters flowing therein. Under no interpretation of the Constitution can such a view be justified. The rights of the Federal Government, as I have stated are restricted to navigable streams, and it may proceed no further than to prevent interference with navigation. Under the pretext that the Government was preventing interference with navigation it has made large appropriations for the construction of canals and the building of levees and other protective works upon the banks of rivers and waterways within the United States. It has gone further, and under the Interstate clause has assumed the right to control floods and to protect private lands from inundation by the waters of navigable and nonnavigable streams.

The theory upon which this bill rests, dealing with the Mississippi River project, is that the Federal Government may pursue any plan it desires in connection with all streams, springs, and source.'! of water supply which, directly or indirectly, find their way into the Mississippi Kiver and finally into the Gulf of Mexico. It may go into the Kooky Mountains and build reservoirs, or, as indicated by the Senator from Nebraska, who has just spoken, it may convey waters upon the arid and semiarid lauds where, as he averred, they would percolate into the soil and there be held as in a reservoir, finally reaching the Mississippi River through subterranean channels and fissures in the earth's crust. It Is also contended by some who are advocating the Mississippi River project that lands may be acquired by the Federal Government and a policy of reforestation employed in order that the snows and rainfalls may be held back and reach the lowlands at such times as to prevent floods.

Serious objection to the pending bill is justified because of the uncertainty and ambiguity of its provisions. But little discussion of the measure has taken place in the Senate, but divergent views have been expressed by Senators as well as others who are proponents of the bill with respect to its meaning, purposes, and consequences. A few days before the bill was reported to the Senate the senior Senator from Missouri I Mr. Ueei>] indicated that the project would cost a billion dollars or more, and that the Government should issue bonds in order to finance the undertaking.

When the bill was brought to the Senate the Senator from Washington [Mr. Jomks] reported the bill, and explained some of its provisions. In reply to questions which I propounded to him he stated that while the hill carried an authorized appropriation of $325,000.000, no one could determine what the cost would be, and that it might reach the gigantic proportions of more than three-quarters of a billion dollars. So far as I can learn, no one has definitely declared that this project will cost only $325,000,000, and we are advised that some of the engineers who have been connected with the investigation of the project report that it will cost more than $425.000,000. Senators will bear in mind that this bill only provides for a part of the contemplated Mississippi flood-control project. This deals only with a segment of the river between Head of Passes in Louisiana and Cape Girardeau, Mo.

It is contemplated that the Mississippi River project shall not only provide levees and other works along and upon the hanks of the Mississippi River between the points I have just referred to, but that it will comprehend the entire river and all of its tributaries. Indewl, the act declares— that surveys of the river and Its tributaries which are authorized in the Sixty-ninth Congress shall be prosecuted—

As speedily—

as practicable, and the Secretary of War. through the Corps of Engineers, United States Army, is directed to prepare and submit to Congress at the earliest practicable date projects for flood control on nil tributary streams.

It further declares that some of these projects shall be the— Red Uiver and tributaries, the Yazoo Kiver and tributaries, the White Hlver and tributaries, the St. Francis River and tributaries, the Arkansas River and tributaries, the Ohio River and tributaries, the Missouri River and tributaries, and the Illinois River and tributaries.

The bill also provides that the reports and surveys to be submitted and made by the Secretary of War, through the Corps of Engineers, United States Army, shall include—

the effect on the subject of further flood control of the lower Mississippi River to be attained throncl! the control of the flood waters in tlie drainage basin of the tributaries by the establishment of a reservoir system; the benefits that will accrue to navigation and agriculture from the prevention of erosion and siltnge entering the stream; I determination of the capacity of the soils of the district to receive

and hold waters from such reservoirs; the prospective income from the disposal of reservoired waters; the extent to which reservolred waters may be made available for public and private uses: and inquiry as to the return flow of waters placed in the soils from reservoirs and ns to their stabilizing effect on stream flow as a means of preventing erosion, slltage, and improving navigation.

The bill also authorizes an appropriation of more than $5,000,000 in addition to the various other sums authorized in the bill and in the river and harbor act of January 21, 1927, to be expended under the direction of the Secretary of War and the supervision of the Chief of Engineers for—

the preparation of the flood-control projects authorized under section 10 of the bill—

which means, of course, all of the tributaries of all the rivers and streams flowing into the Mississippi River. And that these flood surveys shall be made—

simultaneously with the flood-control work on the Mississippi River provided for in this act: And provided further. That the President shall proceed to ascertain through the Secretary of Agriculture the extent to ana manner In which the floods in the Mississippi Valley may be controlled by proper forestry practice.

I repeat, an examination of the bill justifies the statements which have been mude repeatedly during the past few weeks in the press, and by persons giving this subject consideration, that the ultimate cost can not be determined but that it may reach the stupendous sum of one and one-half billion dollars. The President has signified his opposition to the bill, and statements have been attributed to him that it might cost between a b'llion and a billion and a half dollars. Since the bill passed the House a few weeks ago Members of the Senate and of the House have been holding conferences with a view to composing differences existing between the two bodies, and for the purpose also of trying to meet the objections of the President to the bill. Senators know that conferences have been held between the President and Members of the House and Senate, and that the President has indicated that if changes were not made the bill might be vetoed. We are now advised that the President, while not satisfied with the bill, will approve it.

I am compelled to say that the conference report presents a bill but slightly changed since it passed the Senate. If the President was then opposed to it. and there is no doubt upon this point, it seems incomprehensible to me that he should now consent to approve it. The bill is just as uncertain, just as ambiguous, just as all-comprehensive and embracing, just as subject to criticism and objection now as it was when it received the approval of this body.

The President by his conferences with the committees of the House and the Senate has gained no victory, or if one it is a Pyrrhic victory. There is no doubt that the President has been opposed to the hill; that he perceived its imperfections and uncertainties, dangers and uncertainties which will l>e emphasized as the days go by. I regret that the President did not use in the contest the weapons at his command. He could exercise his constitutional right to veto the measure. I believe that if the President had indicated that he would pursue this course, we would have before us a measure relieved of some of the uncertainties and dangers which we find in the bill under consideration.

I have referred to the uncertainties of the bill and to the indefinite realms into which it enters. I have just referred to a number of the rivers and tributaries of the Mississippi, surveys of which are to be completed at an early dale together with—

reports of projects for flood control of ttie same and of all tributary streams of the Mississippi River system subject to destructive floods.

I have also culled attention to the bill which it declares contemplates—

further flood control of the Mississippi River to he obtained through the control of the flood waters of the drainage basin of the tributaries by the establishment of a reservoir system.

In other words, the bill contemplates the building of reservoirs upon the tributaries of the Mississippi River, the purchase of lands for such purposes, and the construction of all of the extensive works incidental to the undertaking of such a project so stupendous. *

The bill also requires the project to take into account the benefits that will accrue to agriculture and navigation, and requires that the capacity of the soils to hold and receive waters shall be determined and the income that will be obtained from the reservoired waters.

The Secretary of Agriculture Is also to—

ascertain how the extent of floods in the Mississippi Valley can be controlled by proper forestry practices.

In view of the contention that all streams between the Allegheny and the Rocky Mountains constitute a part of the Mississippi River, I suppose that this entire region will be held to be within the periphery of the Mississippi Valley. Apparently the bill contemplates that a great national work of reforestation is to be undertaken within the 21 States which, it is claimed, send their waters to the Mississippi River.

Mr. President, I repeat the bill is ambiguous and uncertain. It is bewildering and uncomprehenslble. Its implications, its consequences, no one can foresee or determine. A measure so uncertain and so indefinite should, in my opinion, not be enacted into law. It should be perfected and made definite and certain, We should know at least within $100,000,000 what the cost will be. Even if the project is confined to that part of the Mississippi River alone between its mouth and Cape Girardeau, we are left absolutely in the dark as to what the cost will be. The bill does not limit the cost. It authorizes an appropriation of $325,000,000, but it docs not restrict or limit the cost to that amount.

Senators know that authorizations are often but Hie beginning of an ever-increasing drain upon the Treasury. Reclamation projects have been authorized said to cost but a few million dollars, but when completed exceeded by several hundred per cent the estimates and the first authorization.

When the chairman of the committee admits, as he did, that the projects authorized may cost more than three-quarters of a billion dollars, I am justified in declaring that we are making a leap into the dark. The Senator from North Dakota [Mr. Frazier] has just explained the plan submitted by Mr. Riker for the control of the waters of the Mississippi River. The map, prepared, I presume, by Mr. Riker, and which is hanging here upon the wall, has just been explained by the Senator from North Dakota. It indicates that the plan which the committee and the President have been considering, known as the Jadwin plan, with perhaps modifications, will require that the Government secure either the title to 900 square miles or the floodage rights over the same.

I am advised that this project will call for the purchase of a jrreat amount of land, and that the flowage rights will have to be secured for hundreds of thousands of acres. Mr. Riker has demonstrated that he is a man of ability and is familiar with the question. If 900 square miles will be inundated by this project, that means that the Government will be called upon to pay tens of millions of dollars, perhaps more than a hundred million of dollars, for lands the fee of which must l>e obtained or the same subjected to a perpetual tlowage servitude.

A Senator has told me within the past hour that, comprehensive as the bill is and costly as it will prove to be, there are 70,000 persons within the project who have not been reckoned with, and that they must be cared for because of the damages which they will sustain In the execution of the plan which seems to have been agreed upon. It is quite certain that the claims of these 70,000 people whose lands are to be inundated or subjected to perpetual easements, will be entitled to large damages, thus adding to the uncertainties and indefiniteness of the bill and making it impossible to even approximate what the enterprise will cost the Government.

Mr. President, my reference to these matters is not for the purpose of indicating that I do not think that the Government should do something to protect the people of a number of the States who have been damaged by the flood waters of the Mississippi River. The Government has assumed from time to time the task of protecting certain regions from the floods of navigable streams. I shall not discuss the question as to the power of the Federal Government to provide flood control. I shall assume that there is some obligation upon the part of the Government to provide at least partial protection against floods in behalf of those residing upon the banks or in close proximity to the Mississippi River. My recollection Is that Congress has already appropriated more than .$100,000,000 for that purpose. I might add in passing that the entire appropriations made by the Government from the time of Washington until the present for rivers and harbors, including flood control, do not exceed $1,250,000,000; and yet we are now about to commit the Government to a policy the extent of which no" one can determine, but which in all probability will cost at least a billion dollars.

And it should be said that under this bill we are establishing a now policy, the results of which, as that policy shall be applied to the entire country, will probably call for expenditures of billions of dollars. As I have stated, this bill contemplates

the entrance of the Federal Government Into 21 States and the control of substantially all of the streams therein. It In effect means that the Government is responsible for the control of the waters and streams of that vast area between the two ranges of mountains to which I have referred. It means the nationalization of the waterways of our country. It contemplates that all streams, navigable and unnavigable, shall pass under the control of the Federal Government and that it will assume the responsibility of conserving the waters by reservoirs and other means and of utilizing and distributing them for power and irrigation and other purposes. Apparently the States are to be deprived of prerogatives and rights which belong to them. This policy, if carried out, will restrict, if not prevent, the utilization and development of streams by private enterprise or by States or municipalities. I call attention to these questions for the purpose of showing how important, how revolutionary, indeed, how dangerous is the step which we are about to take.

I invite the attention of the Senate to another feature of this policy: In the past where the Government made appropriations for flood control and to protect property from inundation, contributions were made by the districts or political subdivisions or States, based theoretically, at least, upon benefits to be derived from the improvement. That, as I understand, has been a certain and fixed policy. It seems to be that that policy is being abandoned and the unwisdom of its abandonment with rosiK>ct to the project provided for in the bill is obvious when it is conceded that hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of acres of privately owned lauds will have to be acquired by the Government or floodage easements obtained therefor. If the Government is to bear the entire exjH'nse of acquiring this land or securing the perpetual right to overflow the same, it is quite likely the cost will be much greater than if the district or the State was required to pay a proportion of the costs. It is quite natural that if the State or the district benefited had to pay a proportion of the costs incident to acquiring the lands or the easements over the same the obligation would be less than if the entire costs are to be borne by th'e Federal Government. The bill makes a gesture, and it is only a gesture, of indorsing what was formerly the policy of the Government of requiring local contribution. It declares— that the principle of local contribution toward the cost of flood-control work, which has been incorporated In all previous national legislation on the subject, Is sound, as rrcopnizing the special interest of the local population in its own protection, and as a moans of preventing inordinate requests for unjustified items of work having no material national Interest.

lint having made this solemn gesture the bill declares that it has— been fully complied with because of past contributions.

This admission that no future contribution is required is made in the face of the certain fact that the Government is about to assume a tremendous thmigli unknown obligation which may exceed a billion dollars, nnd in the face of the fact that the bill announces a policy which, in effect, is that the Federal Government now takes over all of the streams between the Rockies and the Alleghenies; and, of course, with this new policy will assume control and jurisdiction over all the rest of the streams, big and little, great and small, between the Atlantic and Pacific and Canada and the Gulf.

Mr. President, one of the uncertainties of the bill so far as the liability of the Government is concerned is found in the provision which declares that in carrying out the purpose of the act it is impracticable—

to construct works for the protection of adjacent lands, and that such adjacent lands will be subject to damage by the execution of the general flood-control plan, it shall be the duty of the hoard heiviu provided to cause to be acquired on behalf ot the United States Government either the absolute ownership of the lands so subjected to overflow or floodajje rights over such land.

It seems to me that the Government, in addition to this liability fur the costs of acquiring easements or title to the large area which may from time to time be inundated, will be required to purchase furl her tracts of land or obtain floodage rights over the same in those districts where it is— impracticable to provide adequate works to protect adjacent lands.

It is known that there are stretches of the Mississippi River where large areas have been flooded almost annually since white men have known the river. Those who have acquired these lands know of the frequent inundations.

Under the bill the Government, Ihongh it is impracticable if not impossible to build levees and dikes because of physical conditions to prevent the water flooding these low, swauipy lauds, nevertheless is to be held liable for damages whenever the lands are flooded.

Mr. JOXES. Mr. President, I should not construe the latter part of the language as going to that extent. I think that is a general declaration, with reference to general flood damage and Hood loss, that the Government will not he responsible for anything of the sort; or, in the case of a flood along these levees, if a levee should break, that the Government is not responsible for the damage' growing out of the break. That is my impression. That is a provision put in by the House and agreed to by the conferees.

Mr. KING. Mr. President, I believe that nn examination of the provisions of the bill will demonstrate that the interpretation which I have placed upon the language referred to Is the correct one. On page 0, section 4, this language is found:

The United States shall provide flowage rights, for destructive flood waters that will pass hy reason of diversions from the main ehunnel of (he Mississippi River and shall control, confine, and regulate such diversions.

Mr. JONES. That Is modified in the conference report to read in this way:

The United States shall provide flowage rights for additional destructive flood waters that will puss by reason of diversions from the main channel of the Mississippi Hiver: Provided, That in all cases where the execution of the flood-control plan herein adopted results in benefits to property such benefits shall he taken Into consideration by way of reducing (lie amount of compensation to be paid.

That is the way it reads now. In other words, the words "and shall control, confine, and regulate such diversions" are omitted, and this provision with reference to the benefits Is ndded.

Mr. KING. Mr. President, the provisions jnst read by the •Senator which is not in the bill, but as he states is in the conference report, is an improvement upon the bill, or at least may lie an improvement. I had not seen this supplemental provision which has emanated from the conferees. However, it must be construed in connection with section 2 which states that—

the local Interests of the alluvial valley of the Mississippi River have fully complied with the principles of local contribution and that because of the national concern—

In this project and—

In the interests of national prosperity no local contribution to the project herein adopted is required.

If there is no contribution it will be probably contended that full payment should be made by tile Government for damages regardless of benefits to tne owner, upon the theory that if benefits were to be taken into account and deducted from the damages resulting from the overflow of the waters of the river, It would be equivalent to local contribution. Bnt the provision just read by the Senator has the vice of uncertainty and complexity. It says that the—

United States shall provide flowage rights for additional destructive Hood waters by reasons of diversions from the main channel of the Mississippi Klver.

We are told that the flood waters cover large areas of territory. How can It be argued that there will be "additional destructive flood waters" caused by the Government when the Government doc-* not create the floods. As I understand the project contemplated, it calls for the creation of new channels and tlie overflow of hundreds of thousands of acres of land not heretofore affected by the floods. The owners of these lands can set up no benefits from the project, and these are the lands which the Government must acquire in fee or an easement over the same, the cost of which will be, as I have indicated, very great. The provision just read by the Senator, I repeat, is uncertain; it adds further mystification and bewilderment to an indefinite bill and is an "admission that this bill should not become a law until it is further clarified and its terms made more certain and definite. Of course, the United States will not create "additional destructive" flood waters. What are "additional destructive flood waters "V Who shall say? I submit that this provision is meaningless, and as interpreted will prove a snare to the Government and a pitfall in its path.

Mr. President, the measure before us needs clarity with respect to the agency which shall be paramount and controlling. Is that agency to be the Secretary of War or the Chief of Engineers, or a hoard to consist of the Chief of Engineers, the president of the Mississippi River Commission, and a civil engineer chosen from civil life by tile President—or the Mississippi River Commission?

Obviously, the bill contemplates that there are differences of opinion now existing as to the project and its execution, and that after further study by the commission and the Secretary of War and the Chief of Engineers and "the engineer chosen from civil life," an attempt is to be made to reconcile the differences, and then, if they succeed in effecting a reconciliation, they are to recommend to the President such action as they may deem necessary to be taken in respect to such—

engineering differences, and the decision of the President upon all recommendations or questions submitted to him by such board shall be followed In carrying out the project herein adopted.

This is a most remarkable provision and reveals that no one is yet satisfied with the project or the plans. Indeed, it seems to prove that there is no definite plan. It will be observed that the President, with respect to the controversy and differences of opinion upon the project and plans, is only to give a "decision with respect to engineering differences" that may arise among the groups of persons comprised within the Mississippi River Commission and the board consisting of the Chief of Engineers and the president of the Mississippi River Commission and the engineer chosen from civil life.

Mr. President, there are other provisions of the bill as uncertain, unsatisfactory, and indefinite as those to which I have called attention. They will be provocative of controversy and lead to strife and litigation to the great disadvantage financially and otherwise of the United States. I regret that a suitable bill has not be offered, one that will fairly meet the situation, afford reasonable protection to the people in the Mississippi Valley, and impose upon the United States responsibilities and obligations which are just and fair. I appreciate that the Mississippi River presents a problem in which the National Government is interested. There rests upon it a responsibility which must not be overlooked and obligations which it must cheerfully assume. I am ready to vote for any measure that will provide for the assumption of that responsibility and the discharge of such obligation. And I might add that my support of the measure will not be affected or influenced by the amount involved; whatever sum, great or small, should be paid by the Government to meet its just obligations I shall gladly vote for. The measure before us does not meet my approve!. I have given some of the reasons for my position, and why I can not support the conference report.

Mr. CARAWAY. Mr. President, I shall detain the Senate but a few minutes in discussing the conference report. We who live in the valley feel grateful for the unwavering support of the Senators and the Representatives who live outside the lower valley. We shall always be grateful to them for the support they gave us in framing this legislation. It does not carry all we had hoped it would do in the way of relief. We who have lived with this problem have not felt that it had any of the characteristics of a local problem. It is one of those efforts which the Government occasionally puts forth to increase the wealth and the happiness of all the citizens of the United States by some act within some locality that is too great to be cared for by local interests.

If one had time to recall what the conditions were last year, and a map to point out the territories flooded, it would be easy to disclose that quite one-fifth of all the cotton grown In America is produced in the territory that was under water this time last year. While the cotton, of course, was the product of the toil of the people who dwelt within that area, it produced a wealth that paid a larger dividend in other sections of the country than in the area where it was produced. It kept the spindles busy in New England. It furnished the balance of trade to this country, and has done so every year since the Civil War, except for a few years during the World War. It furnished the clothes of half the people of America who wear cotton. As I said a moment ago, it kept the spindles in New England busy, and. almost alone, it kept the commerce between this country and the Orient from being destroyed.

It has, in addition to that, another side to it. Between onefifth and one-sixth of all the colored population in America who live upon farms dwell in this area. It is an agricultural area. There are no industries there to absorb the labor of that race if they should find it impossible to remain upon the farm. Therefore, unless this condition were remedied, it meant that between one-fifth and one-sixth of the colored population who live on farms in America now would have had to be transported anywhere from 500 to 1,0(10 miles. That would have happened to a race that has been illy equipped hy training to compete in an industrial community. They have been reared upon farms. Their inclination, their training, mnde farmers nut of them. If you should drive them away from the farms they would have to go to the industrial centers of the North and East. As I said, they are illy equipped to compete in the fierce struggles in those centers.

In addition to that, they would bring to those centers of the North and Knst an industrial, social, and political problem with which those communities are illy equipped to grapple. It would add to the unemployment. It would add to the unskilled labor in those communities. They would become factors, social and political, difficult to deal with. Therefore, if that alone were to be considered, I think the Government would be amply justified in making the experiment in seeking to make it possible for those people to remain where they are and where they have been for a hundred years.

It would be of no advantage to any section of America, no advantage to any class in the United States, to let conditions continue as they have been, and let them grow more acute every year, more difficult for the people who live in the valley to handle on account of the increasing floods in the valley. If Senators will look at the map, it will be seen that all the water that falls between the Allegheny and the Kocky Mountains finds its way down the lower valley of the Mississippi Hiver. Therefore, in the area between these two great mountain chains, a territory which embraces the whole central part of the United States, every cutting down of a forest, every draining of a swamp, every canalizing of a river has hastened down tliis great flood that falls between these two mountain chains, and adds to the difficulty of controlling that flood when it reaches the lower valley. .

At common law there was a cause of action of the lower riparian owner against the upper riparian owner who accelerated the flow of water from above, down to, and over the property of one who lived below. Therefore, while we can not exercise the right, if it were private individuals, we would have the right to restrain the development of the upper courses of the river in order to protect those people who lived on the lower reaches of that stream.

With all those things to be considered, I have not been able to follow with any sympathy any argument that this was a local problem and ought to be cared for by local communities. I am not unmindful of the fact that some special advantages do come to people who own property in the lower valley which possibly do not come to people who dwell in other sections of the country; but those things are mere incidents of the improvement. They are not uncommon in the development of any governmental activity, and no one has ever tliougbt heretofore that the local communities should contribute locally for incidental advantages which grow out of governmental activities.

We spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year in maintaining an ample Navy: I think it is a wise national policy so to do; but everybody realizes that the cities along the seucoast have a special interest in the Navy that is not shared by the people living In the valley of the Mississippi. During the late war we spent many millions of dollars in keeping a naval patrol on the sea to protect New York and Boston and other seacoast cities from a German raid. It was said, and I do not doubt but that it was true, that if a ship of war could approach New York it could do incalculable harm in a few hours. Therefore, to avoid any catastrophe like that, we spent hundreds of millions of dollars. Anyone knows that the i>eople living in New York or Boston had very much more at stake than the citix.ens of St. Louis, because no ship that floated on the sea could have done any physical daninge to St. Louis. But there is nobody so wild anywhere who would have thought of proposing that we should have put into the Navy appropriation bill a provision that the people living along the seaeoast should make a local contribution toward maintaining the Navy, because incidentally they got a greater protection out of it than people living uw-.iy from the coast.

We did not do that, because we realize it is a national obligation to protect every square foot of America's soil from the incursion of a foreign enemy. Therefore no one would U> so unpatriotic as to object to maintaining a navy. But if it be wise that the individuals living along the seacoast, where the protection is greatly needed, should not contribute locally for that protection, I am unable to follow the reasoning of these who insist that we who live in the Mississippi Valley should contribute, because connected with the protection of a pait of the territory of these United States from destruction by flood there is an incidental advantage to the people living there. I have not been able to follow that reasoning, and I never thai! be able to follow it. Therefore I shall not be able wholeheartedly to assent to the provisions of this bill.

I am not unmindful that it is tho best that can be had, and •we are grateful to those who made it possible to have this much assistance. But there is not a man, woman, or child in America who has not something at stake in the protection of the great

central plain from floods. The fo<xl they eat, the clothes they wear, the commerce that flows from one section to another, till dejwud, to a certain extent, upon thH Improvement.

We furnish a very substantial market for the manufacturing institutions of this country. We buy more when our hinds artfree from floods. What we produce we may expend in tliut way, instead of having to exi<end it in fighting floods. We are very much better customers. I say this as an illustrati«ii. that New England can sell us much more of her manufactured products if we are protected from floods than she can sell us if we have to devote our time and all of our resources to fighting water. Therefore there is a very substantial advantage going to that section1 of the country.

Certainly everybody realizes the advantage in having the balance of trade in our favor instead of having the balance of trade against us. It tends to make prosperity in every section of the United States, and unless this country can produce tlie staple that heretofore has given us the balance of trade, that balance of trade must turn against us instead of being with us.

In conclusion. I want to say that I shall vote for the conference report, but I shall do it not believing that it does all for that section which it is entitled to receive. I shall do it because it is the best that can be had. 1 have examined the amendments that were recently written into the bill. Jusi what they are expected to accornplUh I am unable to determine. The first amendment insisted upon adds the word "additional." The only measure of recovery that one who owns jtroiwrty there that is taken, or partly taken, for public us*. is the difference between the value of the prol>erty before and after the improvement is made. You can not take that right from the owner, because the Constitution guarantees it to him, and the word "additional" does not add to or take from the liability of the Government or the right of the citizen whose property is appropriated. Some of the other amendments possibly make a more substantial change.

I regret that one provision in the Senate bill which provided for a larger civilian engineering force, and more power to the civilians instead of to the Army engineers, has been stricken out. I say that not with a view of reflecting upon tlie Aruiy engineers. I think they are a very competent body indeed, and in one hundred and odd years that they have handled the Government's funds, hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, there has been one instance only in which they misappropriated money. That is a record (or any profession to feel proud of.

This is the objection I have to that: It tends more to concentrate in the hands of the Executive the control over the development of the improvements that are to protect the valley from floods. When the Chief of Engineers can largely veto the plans, we know that to a very large extent that is putting into the hands of the President of the United States the power thus to control the rate at which the development shall go forward, and, to a certain extent, the plans which shall be adopted for carrying out the purposes of this act.

I do not want it to be understood that I am reflecting on the President, but it is obvious that he can not understand that problem as one who is in control of it ought to understand it. and as men do understand it who live with it and who work with it year in ;md year out. The President has too many other duties to perform. It frequently happens that the President, like any other individual, is more impressed by that thing with which he comes In daily contact than he is with a problem that is further removed. As an illustration, we read without any very great emotion of wars of 100 or 200 years ago. We can contemplate whole cities devastated, and thousands of people massacred, if they are far removed from us in time and space. If a disaster were to fall upon the city of Washington to-day and a thousand men, women, and children were to lie dead in the streets, we would be very much more impressed about it than we are by reading of all the bloody wars that attended the building up and the destruction of the Roman Empire, because it would be nearer to us both in time and space. Therefore. I would rather that the development of this project were in the hands of men who lived with it, who were familiar with it by seeing it every day, who knew the problem, and had that human sympathy which comes from contact, rather than that it should be controlled by some one who has not that intimate personal knowledge and therefore that sympathy which would come from having actual contact with the problem.

I regret very much that the present President, Mr. Coolidge, did not find it in his heart to come down and see the conditions which existed a year ago in the valley. It was worth anybody's time and it seems to me that it imposed an obligation upon the Chief Executive to acquaint himself with those conditions. In my own State of Arkansas we had 10.001) square miles of territory under water. Thousands of people were stranded in the

« ПретходнаНастави »