Statement on Signing a Bill Establishing a State Mining and Mineral Resources Research Institute Program

August 29, 1984

I have today signed H.R. 4214, a bill to establish a State Mining and Mineral Resources Research Institute Program, and for other purposes.

As its title suggests, the bill would reauthorize the Department of the Interior's program for funding State mining and mineral resources research institutes. In order to assist in the operation of this program, the bill also continues the Committee on Mining and Mineral Resources Research, which was originally established in 1977 under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act to advise the Secretary of the Interior on matters relating to mining and mineral resources research. H.R. 4214 would require the Committee to assist in the determination of organizations eligible for funding under this act.

I am concerned that since two of the current Committee's members were appointed by private organizations, the requirement to assist in determining eligibility for Federal funds could raise fundamental constitutional questions. The Attorney General has advised me that this vesting of authority to assist in the determination of eligibility for Federal funds in a committee that includes members appointed by private organizations could constitute a violation of the appointments clause, article II, sec. 2, cl. 2, unless the responsibilities of the Committee are given a careful narrowing construction. The Supreme Court has decided that all persons ``exercising significant authority pursuant to the laws of the United States,'' must be appointed by the President. Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 126 (1976). For this reason, I am signing the bill based on my understanding that this committee, which includes members appointed by private organizations, would only perform advisory functions.

The research goals which this bill seeks to further must be carried out consistent with the Constitution. Accordingly, I have directed the Secretary of the Interior to seek the advice of the Attorney General in implementing this act to ensure that it does not transgress constitutional limitations.

Finally, I must reiterate my concerns that the mineral institute program is no longer an appropriate use of Federal funds, given changes in the mineral industry since the program's inception in 1977 that have reduced the demand for technical personnel. My administration will continue to propose reductions in Federal funds for the program, in the belief that it should be funded primarily by State and private sources.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 4214 is Public Law 98 - 409, approved August 29.