Category: Historical Documents

August 7 1969 White House Press Briefing on Mass Transit Bill

This is the transcript of an August 7, 1969 White House press briefing by Under Secretary of Transportation James Beggs, UMTA Administrator Carlos Villarreal, and White House urban policy adviser Pat Moynihan to explain the urban mass transportation bill submitted to Congress that day.

June 30 1969 UMTA Status Memo on Mass Transit Bill

This is a June 30, 1969 memo from Urban Mass Transit Administration staff outlining decisions made on the mass transit bill at a high-level June 25 meeting between Transportation Secretary Volpe and White House staff.

April 1969 DOT Decision Memo on Mass Transit Bill

This is a memo to Transportation Secretary Volpe dated April 25, 1969 outlining the proposed mass transit reauthorization bill, listing the objections of some DOT senior staff, and asking the Secretary to either forward the bill to the White House for approval or else identify specific changes to be made.

1969 UMTA Task Force Report on Transit Reauthorization

This is an April 15, 1969 report of an internal Urban Mass Transportation Administration report framing the issues at stake for the forthcoming urban mass transportation reauthorization proposal and outlining the structures of four possible legislative approaches.

Nixon 1969 Message to Congress on Airports and Airways

This is House Document 91-130, the message that President Richard Nixon transmitted to Congress on June 16, 1969 to accompany and explain proposed legislation to create a significant new investment in airport and air traffic control infrastructure.

The legislation proposed increasing air traffic control capital spending from an average of $93 million per year to an average of $250 million per year as well as significant expansion in airport grants. The bill also proposed the creation of a special account in the Treasury to hold an increased array of aviation user taxes.

A modified version of the legislation would become the Airport and Airway Revenue Act of 1970.


1948 Report of the Hoover Commission Task Force on Transportation

This is the final report of the Task Force on Transportation of the first Hoover Commission, dated October 15, 1948. The Commission had 24 task forces, two-thirds of which were contracted out. The Transportation report was contracted to the Brookings Institution and was prepared by their in-house transportation experts, Charles Dearing and Wilfred Owen. The report recommended the establishment of a new, Cabinet-level Department of Transportation.

The Hoover Commission never published this report, because their Task Force on Commerce (chaired by Herbert Hoover himself, a former Commerce Secretary) instead adopted conflicting recommendations to centralize all federal transportation functions within the Commerce Department. The final report of the first Hoover Commission made that recommendation.

Dearing and Owen then published a slightly edited version of the report as a book, National Transportation Policy, through Brookings Press in 1949. (So Brookings got paid twice for the same work.)

This PDF file contains volume I of the report. The much longer and data-centric Volume II was too big to scan, but interested parties can pick up National Transportation Policy at many libraries or buy a copy cheaply through abebooks.com.

1949 Draft Hoover Commission Report on Reorganization of the Commerce Department

This is the fourth draft of the report on the reorganization of the Department of Commerce prepared by the Commission on Reorganization of the Executive Branch (the “Hoover Commission”). This fourth draft is dated January 8, 1949. It is the version that the Commission used when it considered and amended the draft report at a meeting on January 12, 1949 (see transcript here).

1949 Hoover Commission Debate on Transportation Reorganization

This is an 86-page unpublished transcript of the debate of the Commission on Reorganization of the Executive Branch (the “Hoover Commission”) on January 12, 1949 at which they approved their report to Congress on the reorganization of the Department of Commerce. The Commission rejected the report of their Task Force on Transportation (outsourced to the Brookings Institution) that recommended the creation of a Cabinet-level Department of Transportation.

Instead, the Commission decided to recommend that most federal transportation responsibilities be moved under the Department of Commerce as a Transportation Service, to be headed by an Assistant Secretary for Transportation. The Public Roads Administration, the Coast Guard, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the non-regulatory functions of the Maritime Commission, the safety functions of the Civil Aeronautics Board, and the rail and motor carrier safety and car service functions of the Interstate Commerce Commission would be transferred to Commerce from elsewhere in government.

At the January 12 meeting, the Commission was considering, page-by-page, the fourth draft of the Commerce Department report, dated January 8, 1949.

The final report, as submitted to Congress in March 1949, is here.

Document Compilation: Truman Administration Efforts to Reorganize Federal Transportation Functions in 1946

This 105-page PDF file contains 17 original source documents found in the Bureau of the Budget’s transportation reorganization subject file at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

  1. January 25, 1946 memo from Ernie Williams to Paul David proposing the creation of a Federal Transportation Agency. (8 pages.)
  2. January 30, 1946 memos from Paul David to J. Weldon Jones forwarding, and commenting on, the earlier Williams memo. (2 pages.)
  3. February 8, 1946 memo from C.H. Schwartz, Jr. to Paul David forwarding a February 6, 1946 memo on the topic from W.K. Holl. (3 pages.)
  4. February 11, 1946 memo from C.H. Schwartz, Jr. to a “Mr. Miles” commenting on transportation reorganization plans. (2 pages.)
  5. April 2, 1946 memo from D.C. Stone to Budget Director Smith transmitting a proposed decision memo to President Truman on transportation reorganization. (6 pages.)
  6. April 12, 1946 handwritten memo from Paul David forwarding an April 11, 1946 memo to David from Williams suggesting names for a Federal Transportation Agency head. (4 pages.)
  7. April 13, 1946 draft of a reorganization plan creating a Federal Maritime Agency. (9 pages.)
  8. April 17, 1946 draft of a reorganization plan creating a Federal Transportation Agency. (12 pages.)
  9. April 17, 1946 memo from Ralph Burton entitled “Issues Re Transportation Reorganization Plan. (2 pages.)
  10. April 18, 1946 draft message for President Truman to transmit to Congress to accompany a transportation reorganization plan. (7 pages.)
  11. April 26, 1946 draft of a maritime reorganization plan. (9 pages.)
  12. April 26, 1946 memo from Donald Stone to Budget Director Smith with three appendices: a decision matrix for maritime functions, a draft of the transportation reorganization plan with two alternative maritime sections, and a list of additional proposals for consideration. (19 pages.)
  13. April 27, 1946 draft of a revised section 6 (maritime) of a transportation reorganization plan. (2 pages.)
  14. April 29, 1946 summary of the transportation reorganization plan. (2 pages.)
  15. May 8, 1946 draft of the transportation reorganization plan. (9 pages.)
  16. May 8, 1946 summary of the transportation reorganization plan with discussion of maritime alternatives (8 pages.)
  17. May 21, 1946 memo from A.J. Horn to “Mr. Schaub” discussing maritime alternatives. (1 page.)


1945 Burden Memo on Postwar Civil Aviation Policy

This is a “white paper” dated April 25, 1945 written by William A.M. Burden, an aviation consultant and the special assistant to the Secretary of War for Air. It appears to be a response to March 22, 1945 memo from the new Secretary of Commerce, Henry Wallace, regarding the future of post-war civil aviation in the United States.

The paper states that:

…a good case can be made for such expenditure on the part of the Federal government. Our past government expenditures on civil aviation have proved a good investment. The accumulate deficit on domestic air mail since 1917 (which at one time reached $200 million) has been wiped out and the Post Office Department is currently reaping an annual profit of $70 million on the service. It is believed that over the long term the necessary additional “seed corn” expenditures on civil aviation – for airports, airways, and civil pilot training – will be returned through taxation on the growing new industry. On the intangible side it is certain that more rapid transportation will bring important if less exactly measurable benefits to the country by quickening our channels of distribution and by facilitating the social intercourse and recreational activities of our citizens.

(The paper also mentions, as an aside, that “The creation of a Department of Transportation perhaps 10 to 20 years hence should be considered” which is probably why we found this copy of the paper as the first item in the Bureau of the Budget’s subject files on federal government transportation reorganization at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.)

1932 Treasury Letter Recommending First Gasoline Tax

This is a letter marked “CONFIDENTIAL” from Treasury Secretary Ogden L. Mills to Acting House Ways and Means chairman Charles L. Crisp dated February 16, 1932 recommending that Congress enact a new excise tax on gasoline to help eliminate the projected federal deficit.

The letter was associated with updated deficit estimates that would have required an extra $337 million in taxes in order to get the budget to a state of balance. The letter proposed to get that $337 million as follows:

  • Increase of 1/2 of 1 percent in the corporate tax rate – $17 million
  • Increase in the income surtax rates for wealthy individuals – $50 million
  • A tax of 1 cent per gallon on gasoline – $165 million
  • A 7 percent tax on domestic consumption of electricity and natural gas – $94 million
  • An additional cent on capital stock sales and transfers – $11 million

Although the letter from the Treasury Secretary to the Acting Ways and Means chairman was marked “confidential,” its contents made it into the New York Times the following day.

Source: Records of the United States Senate, Committee on Finance, 72nd Congress, Box 67, Folder 72A-F9, National Archives.

Sept. 1978 Letter to US House Members from Transportation Stakeholders

This is a September 15, 1978 letter from various surface transportation stakeholder groups to all members of the US House of Representatives opposing an amendment to the highway bill to be offered by Budget Committee chairman Bob Giamo (D-CT) that would have reduced annual Highway Trust Fund authorization levels to levels that could be indefinitely supported by existing tax rates without extensive balance drawdowns.

Sept. 1978 “Dear Colleague” Letter from House Public Works Against Giamo Amendment

This is a “Dear Colleague” letter to House members sent by members of the Public Works and Transportation Committee on September 19, 1978 in opposition to an amendment by Budget chairman Bob Giamo (D-CT) that would have reduced annual highway funding levels from the Highway Trust Fund to the levels that could be indefinitely sustained by existing tax revenues without extensive drawdown of balances.

1978 Conable-Gibbons Amendment to the Highway Bill

This PDF is a series of documents relating to a proposed amendment in the House Ways and Means Committee to the revenue title of the highway bill in 1978. Drafted (at the Department of Transportation’s request) by Reps. Barber Conable (R-NY) and Sam Gibbons (D-FL), the amendment would have put the Highway Trust Fund on a form of “accrual accounting” and ensured that each year’s new funding authorizations were reduced to that upcoming year’s estimated excise tax revenues.

The file includes:

  • The undated original text of the Conable-Gibbons amendment from spring 1978.
  • Projected Highway Trust Fund cash flow under the highway bill (H.R. 11733) as reported by the House Public Works and Transportation Committee.
  • A May 16, 1978 version of the Conable-Gibbons amendment, with Ways and Means staff analysis.
  • A May 17, 1978 letter from Transportation Secretary Adams, Treasury Secretary Blumenthal, and OMB Director McIntyre to Ways and Means chairman Ullman supporting Conable-Gibbons.
  • A May 19, 1978 letter from Public Works and Transportation chairman Johnson and ranking minority member Harsha opposing Conable-Gibbons.
  • The May 31, 1978 final version of the Conable-Gibbons amendment, with Ways and Means staff analysis.
  • A May 31, 1978 letter from Public Works chairman Johnson to Ways and Means chairman Ullman again opposing Conable-Gibbons.
  • A June 22, 1978 letter from Johnson, Harsha, Highways Subcommittee chairman Howard and ranking minority member Shuster to Ullman opposing Conable-Gibbons and including several pages of arguments against the amendment.
  • A July 12, 178 letter from Howard to Ullman explaining how he was going to offer an amendment reducing funding in H.R. 11733 and providing Public Works staff re-estimates of future Trust Fund cash flow under the amended bill.
  • Congressional Budget Office projected Trust Fund cash flow under Howard’s amendment.
  • Congressional Budget Office projected Trust Fund cash flow under the Conable-Gibbons amendment.
  • A July 31, 1978 letter from OMB Director McIntyre to Gibbons reiterating support for the Conable-Gibbons amendment.

Readers are encouraged to download the file and open it in a PDF reader so they can use the bookmark tab to move between documents.

Reproduced from the files of the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Public Works and Transportation at the National Archives.

1958 FAA Act – White House Enrolled Bill File

This is the enrolled bill file prepared by the Bureau of the Budget on the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. The file contains a summary of the bill prepared by BoB and letters from all relevant federal agencies expressing their opinions on whether or not President Eisenhower should sign the bill into law. He did sign it into law, on August 23, 1958, creating an independent Federal Aviation Agency.


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