1956 Treasury Secretary Letter to Harry Byrd on Pay-As-You-Build Highways
This PDF is a copy of a letter from Treasury Secretary George Humphrey to Senate Finance Committee chairman Harry Byrd (D-VA), dated March 23, 1956 and marked “personal” and addressed “Dear Harry,” reflecting the close working relationship of the two men.
Humphrey is responding to a letter from Byrd dated March 21 (not in file) on the highway bill that was making its way through the House of Representatives. Humphrey asks Byrd to make some changes, including the addition of a “pay-as-you-build” provision. Byrd would add such a provision in the Finance Committee, which stayed in the final Highway Revenue Act and to this day is known as the “Byrd Test.”
The file also contains a copy of a letter to Byrd from Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson (D-TX) dated March 19, 1956, which Byrd had forwarded to Humphrey. Johnson was writing on behalf of the trucking industry in opposition to an amendment to the bill added in the House Ways and Means Committee by Rep. Dan Reed (R-NY) levying a new weight-based tax on annual truck use. That provision also stayed in the final act and today is known as the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax.
Originals located in the files of the Treasury Department, Office of Tax Policy, at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.