withhold funds for a period of months or even years.
Nor can defendants rely on the Anti-Deficiency Act for authority to delay the obligation of funds in this case. 31 U.S.C. § 665. The original Anti-Deficiency Act permitted the establishment of reserves only where an Act's objectives could be accomplished by the expenditure of an amount smaller than appropriated, but the Act was not a blank check to nullify Congressional intent or to reserve funds for non-program related reasons.
Moreover, in recent legislation the Anti-Deficiency Act has been clarified to explicitly reflect this original, limited purpose in allowing the establishment of reserves.
Defendants also contend that section 101(c) of the Act is in the nature of a sense of the Congress resolution and that the provision's anti-impoundment language is not binding.
This contention is without merit since the Court has already determined that the Secretary lacks the discretionary power to delay or withhold funds for non-program related, anti-inflationary reasons. Further restrictions on impoundment are unnecessary in view of this holding.
However, section 101(c) does support the Court's construction of the Act. As noted in the Missouri case, the clear intent of Congress in enacting the measure was to emphasize that funds apportioned under the Act should not be impounded or withheld from obligation.
Even if the provision is precatory, it contains Congress' interpretation of "existing law," which is entitled to great weight in statutory construction. Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. Federal Communications Commission, 395 U.S. 367, 380-81, 23 L. Ed. 2d 371, 89 S. Ct. 1794 (1969). And in the most recent Congressional consideration of the Federal-Aid Highway Act, the House-Senate Conference Committee, while rejecting a Senate measure strengthening section 101(c), stated, "The fact that this section of the Senate bill is not contained in the conference substitute shall not be construed to indicate anything other than complete agreement with the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit" in the Missouri case.
Defendants' final argument, that the President's express or implied constitutional powers justify holding back authorized funds, has been rejected by numerous courts in impoundment cases.
The President's veto power under Article I, section 7 of the Constitution certainly could have been utilized to prohibit the authorization of expenditures for the Interstate Highway System if such expenditures were deemed excessive or inflationary. For whatever reason, that course was not taken here.
As for implied powers, the vesting of "[the] executive Power" in the President
and the requirement to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed"
are hardly grants of legislative power. Upholding a construction of the Constitution which would authorize the President to refuse to fund or to delay indefinitely the funding of Congressionally approved programs "would be clothing the president with a power entirely to control the legislation of congress and paralyze the administration of justice. To contend that the obligation imposed on the president to see the laws faithfully executed, implies a power to forbid their execution, is a novel construction of the constitution and entirely impermissible." Kendall v. United States ex rel. Stokes, 37 U.S. (12 Pet.) 524, 613, 9 L. Ed. 1181 (1838). Mr. Justice Black has expressed the same bedrock principles more recently in the Steel Seizure Case, the leading case on Executive-Congressional division of power: ". . . The Constitution does not subject [the] lawmaking power of Congress to presidential . . . supervision or control. . . . The Founders of this Nation entrusted the lawmaking power to the Congress alone in both good and bad times." Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579, 587-89, 96 L. Ed. 1153, 72 S. Ct. 863 (1952).
It may be, as defendants contend, that the Executive is uniquely suited to render timely, swift, and integrated fiscal and economic decisions -- in contrast to the cumbersome committee, hearing, and floor debate process through which Congress works its will. However, "[Nowhere] does our Constitution extol the virtue of efficiency and nowhere does it command that all our laws be fiscally wise." Guadamuz v. Ash, 368 F. Supp. 1233, 1243 (D.D.C. 1973). Moreover, partly in response to this perceived problem of lack of coordination and consistency in Congressional appropriations, Congress recently passed an Act establishing a comprehensive Budget Committee and revamping the legislative budget process.
Even in this measure, though, it was emphasized that Congress, not the President, retains the constitutional role of guardian of the Treasury.
In view of the foregoing, the Court finds that the Federal-Aid Highway Act does not authorize discretionary action for non-program related reasons (e.g., fiscal policy) by the Secretary in withholding funds that have been apportioned to plaintiff States. The defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, for Summary Judgment is denied. Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.
Plaintiffs are entitled to a declaratory judgment that the imposition of contract controls by defendants upon funds authorized and apportioned for the Interstate Highway System is unlawful and invalid under the Federal-Aid Highway Act. Defendants are hereby enjoined to release such apportioned funds as are presently non-obligated, and not to withhold such funds in the future.
In view of the fluctuating amounts of money being released or withheld under the Act, and in view of the possible conflicts as to how much of the pre-fiscal year 1976 funds (i.e., those sums authorized and apportioned for fiscal years 1975 and for all previous years) have been withheld, the matter is referred to the Federal Highway Administrator for a determination of the amount owing to each plaintiff State and for the allotment to each plaintiff State of the monies that are due. The Administrator shall submit a report to the Court within sixty days relative to his determination of sums owed to each plaintiff State and his actions taken in implementation of this Order. [EDITOR'S NOTE: The following court-provided text does not appear at this cite in F. Supp.]
John Lewis Smith, Jr. / United States District Judge
Upon consideration of plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment, defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, the memoranda of points and authorities in support thereof and in opposition thereto, the affidavits submitted on behalf of plaintiffs and defendant oral argument of counsel having been heard, and for reasons set forth in the attached Memorandum Opinion, it is by the Court this 12th day of February 1975
ORDERED that plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment be and it hereby is granted; and defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment be and it hereby is denied; and it is further
ORDERED that plaintiffs are entitled to a declaratory judgment that the imposition of contract controls by defendants upon funds authorized and apportioned for the Interstate Highway System is unlawful and invalid under the Federal-Aid Highway Act; and it is further
ORDERED that defendants are hereby enjoined to release such apportioned funds as are presently non-obligated, and are enjoined not to withhold such funds in the future; and it is further
ORDERED that the matter is referred to the Federal Highway Administator for a determination of how much is owing to each plaintiff State and for the allotment to each plaintiff State of the amount that is due; and it is further
ORDERED that the Administrator shall submit a report to the Court within sixty days concerning his determination of sums owed to each plaintiff State and his actions in implementing this Order.
JOHN LEWIS SMITH JR / United States District Judge