WASHINGTON -- President Roosevelt today ordered the "prompt liquidation" of the Works Projects Administration, last of a succession of New Deal relief agencies which together have spent $14,377,295,826.80.
The Federal Emergency Relief Administration, created in 1933, started the ball rolling with an expenditure of $3,080,822,679.29. Its successor, the Civil Works Administration, laid $817,876,850.43 on the line and WPA spent $10,478,594,297.08, through this December 2.
War work has reached the point "where a national work relief program is no longer necessary," Mr. Roosevelt said in a letter to Maj. Gen. Philip B. Fleming, federal works administrator, whose agency includes the WPA.
He said Fleming "should direct the prompt liquidation of the affairs of the Work Projects Administration, thereby conserving a large amount of the funds appropriated to this organization."
"This will necessitate closing out all project operations in many states by February 1, 1943, and in other states as soon thereafter as feasible," the president wrote Fleming. "By taking this action there will be no need to provide project funds for the Work Projects Administration in the budge for the next fiscal year."
Proud of WPA
The president read the letter to his press conference, emphasizing that he was proud of the WPA.
"With the satisfaction of a good job well done and with a high sense of integrity, the Work Projects Administration has asked for and earned an honorable discharge," he wrote Fleming.
The WPA program was established in 1935, succeeding a series of other relief organizations, and in seven years employed approximately 8,000,000 Americans with 30,000,000 dependents. The WPA rolls since the war have dropped steadily and now total about 350,000.
"Every employable American should be employed at prevailing wages in war industries, on farms, or in other private or public employment," the president said.
"The Work Projects Administration rolls have greatly decreased, through the tremendous increase in private employment, assisted by the training and re-employement efforts of its own organization, to a point where a national work relief program is no longer necessary.
Some still need aid
"Certain groups of workers still remain on the rolls who may have to be given assistance by the states and locality; others will be able to find work on farms or in industry at prevailing rates of pay as private employment continues to increase. Some of the present certified war projects may have to be taken over by other units of the Federal Works Agency or by other departments of the federal government.
"State or local projects should be closed out by completing useful units of such projects or by arranging for the sponsors to carry on the work."
The president said experience had "amply justified" the idea of "providing useful work" instead of doles.
The work of the WPA, he said, "has added to the national wealth, has repaired the wastage of depression and has strengthened the country to bear the burden of war."
The the millions of Americans employed on WPA, the president said "renewed hope and courage" resulted.
"It has maintained and increased their working skill; and it has enabled them once more to take their rightful places in public or in private employment."
The abolished agency's immediate ancestor was the Works Progress Administration, established May 6, 1935. The name was changed to Work Projects Administration on July 1, 1939. Harry L. Hopkins, now the president's special assistant, headed it until 1938.
Commenting on house approval of a bill to require inclusion of farm labor costs in computing farm parity, Mr. Roosevelt said the first thing to do was to try to determine the effect of this action on our cost of living.
Mr. Roosevelt, when the same issue was being fought in congress early in the fall, opposed tying farm labor costs to computation of parity lest it force agricultural prices into inflationary levels.
Unanimous house passage of the bill yesterday was one of two legislative slaps at the administration viewed by observers as further indication of growing congressional dissatisfaction with Mr. Roosevelt's domestic war-time policies.
Senator Elmer Thomas, D-Okla., predicted that if the senate passes the bill and the president vetoes it "this administration may be on its way out from top to bottom."