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47ru CONGRESS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Ex. Doc. 1st Nession.
PAYMENT FOR GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION ON CER
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
A communication from the Secretary of the Interior relative to the payment
for government transportation on certain railroads.
March 21, 1882. —Referred to the Committee on Appropriations and ordered to be
To the Senate and House of Representatives : I transmit herewith for the consideration of Congress, a communication from the Secretary of the Interior, dated the 6th instant, with accompanying paper, submitting draft of a bill to authorize the payment for government transportation on certain railroads."
CHESTER A. ARTHUR. EXECUTIVE MANSION,
March 21, 1882.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, March 6, 1882. Sie: I have the honor to submit herewith draft of a bill “to authorize the payment for government transportation on certain railroads," for Four consideration, and if approved, for transmission to Congress. The necessity for additional legislation on the subject is fully set forth in the letter addressed to me on the 24 instant, by the Commissioner of Railroads, copy herewith. Very respectfully,
S. J. KIRKWOOD,
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, March 2, 1882.
Secretary of the Interior :
In the act of June 16, 1874, chapter 285, making appropriations for the support of the Army, it was provided that no part of the money appropriated should be paid to railroad companies for transportation of property or troops over the roads constructed by the aid of such land grants. But in view of the controversy which existed over the right of the railroads. to charge for transportation when made in their own cars, it was provided in the same act that nothing herein contained shall be construed as preventing any such railroad from bringing suit in the Court of Claims, for the charges for such transportation, and recovering for the same, if found entitled thereto by virtue of the laws in force prior to the passage of this act."
The Lake Superior and Mississippi Raijroad Company and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fé Railroad Company each bronght an action in the Court of Claims against the United States, claiming compensation for such transportation, and judgment was rendered in each case in favor of the United States. From this judgment the railroad companies appealed, and at the October term, 1876, the jndgment was reversed (93 U. S., 442), the court holding "that the reservation in question secured to the governwent only a free use of the railroads concerned, and that it does not entitle the gor. ernment to have troops and property transported by the companies over their respective roads free of charge for transporting the same," and the Supreme Court “award to each of them compensation for all transportation performed by them respectively of troops and property of the government, excepting the mail, subject to a fair deduction for the use of their respective railroads."
Since this decision, Congress, by the act of March 3, 1881 (21 U. S. Stats., 419), in the deficiency bill, appropriated to pay land-grant railroads 50 per cent. of what the Quartermaster's Department finds justly due them for transportation during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1882.”
In the bearing of another case of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fé Railroad Company, subsequent to the one mentioned, before the Court of Claims, Judge Davis, delivering the opinion (15 C. C. Reports, 148), says: "The exact proportion between the cost of a road and the cost of its equipment varies in different roads and in the same road at different times. But in view of the obvious necessity of establishing a fixed relation to govern current payments for work as done, unless the practice of refusing payment and sending clainiants here is to be perpetuated, and in view of the manifest advantage of having that rate the same with all the roads, Congress has practically agreed that, irrespective of the particular relations between the cost of a road and the cost of its equipment, 50 per cent. of its gross earnings is a fair compensation to the company for the actual cost of transportation, and such part of the profits upon transportation as are earned by the company out of the government. We have, therefore, felt ourselves justified in finding as a fact that 50 per cent. of gross earnings is such a proper compensation.”.
Under these decisions, and impressed with the necessity of establishing a fixed rate of coinpensation, in justice both to the government and the railroads, the Auditor of Railroad Accounts, in his report for 1880 (pages 59 and 60), recommended that sufficient appropriation be made to enable these companies to be paid 50 per cent, of their ordinary charge for government transportation, and my immediate predecessor, in his report for 1881 (page 34), repeats this recommendation, in wbich I also fully
In view of these facts, the inclosed draft of a proposed bill, entitled "A bill to anthorize the payment for government transportation on certain railroads,” is respectfully submitted for your consideration, and, if it meets with your approval, to be forwarded to Congress for their action, Very respectfully,
W. H. ARMSTRONG,
A BILL to authorize the payment for government transportation on certain railroads. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all railroads which in whole or in part were constructed by the aid of a grant of public lands on the condition that such railroads shall be and
remain a public highway for the use of the Government of the United States, free from toll or other charge for the transportation of any property or troops of the United States, be, and they are hereby, authorized to receive fifty per centum of the gross amount due, or which may hereafter become due, for such transportation, to be compated upon the basis of the tariff rates of said railroads for like transportation performed for the public at large, and the proper accounting officers of the Treasury Department are hereby authorized and required to audit the accounts of said railroads for such transportation, and to pay fifty per centum of the gross amount thereof in accordance with the provisions of this act: Provided, That said fifty per centum of the gross amount of said transportation be accepted by said companies in full satisfaction for such service rendered.
SEC. 2. That any and all such railroads as shall elect to accept the payment herein authorized in full satisfaction for such transportation, shall file with the Secretary of the Treasury their written acceptance of the provisions of this act prior to the auditing and payment of their accounts, such written acceptance to be binding upon said railroads until three months' notice be given the Secretary of the Treasury of their election to be no longer bound thereby.
SEC. 3. That any and all railroads falling within the scope of this act, and which may refuse to accept the fifty per centum herein authorized to be paid as in full satisfaction for the service rendered shall not receive payment of any portion of the gross amount of their claim for such transportation : Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed as preventing any such railroad which shall refuse to accept, or which having accepted, shall withdraw the acceptance, from bringing a suit in the Court of Claims for the charges for such transportation and recovering for the same, if foand entitled thereto.
SEC. 4. That nothing in this act contained shall be construed to repeal, impair, or affect the provisions of the acts of May 7, 1878, chapter 96; June 19, 1878, chapter 313; of the laws of 1878, and March 3, 1879, stat. 20, folio 420 of the laws of 1879.
Sec. 5. That all acts and parts of acts inconsi tent herewith be, and the same are hereby, repealed, and Congress may, at any time hereafter, alter, amend, or repeal the provisions of this act.