July 17, 1984
I am pleased to sign H.R. 5155, a bill that facilitates the commercialization of the Federal Government's civilian land remote-sensing satellite system, known as Landsat. This legislation, which recognizes that competitive private sector involvement in land remote sensing is in the national interest, is a good example of cooperation between the administration and Congress.
One of the administration's primary goals in implementing this legislation will be to develop a program that requires minimum government involvement. The administration's policies of limiting burdensome governmental regulation and encouraging competition in the marketplace will guide the Secretary of Commerce's implementation of this legislation, and we will make every effort to minimize the duration and amount of any Federal subsidy.
Two provisions of the bill deserve special comment since the Attorney General has advised that they establish a procedure which is unconstitutional. Sections 202(c) and 303(c) require the Secretary of Commerce to transmit to the appropriate congressional committees any decision to enter into a contract under titles II and III of the bill and to wait for 30 days before implementing that decision. These sections also provide that the committees may, in effect, waive the prescribed waiting periods. Under the Supreme Court's decision in Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, 103 S. Ct. 2761 (1983), Congress, including committees of Congress, may not be given power which has ``the purpose and effect of altering the legal rights, duties and relations of persons, including . . . Executive Branch officials . . .,'' through procedures which bypass the constitutional requirements for valid legislative action. Thus, the provisions in this bill purporting to empower the relevant committees to ``waive'' the 30-day waiting period are, under that Supreme Court decision, unconstitutional.
I extend my appreciation to the Congress for the careful and timely consideration given this legislation, and I look forward to the successful commercialization of the Landsat system. This commercialization represents one of the administration's major efforts to return to the private sector those activities which it can best perform.
Note: As enacted, H.R. 5155 is Public Law 98 - 365, approved July 17.