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64TH CONGRESS, 2d Session.
REPORT No. 1010.
BRIDGE ACROSS MISSISSIPPI RIVER IN MORRISON COUNTY, MINN.
FEBRUARY 5, 1917.-Ordered to be printed.
Mr. SHEPPARD, from the Committee on Commerce, submitted the
[To accompany S. 8003.]
The Committee on Commerce, to whom was referred the bill (S. 8003) authorizing the county of Morrison, Minn., to construct a bridge across the Mississippi River in said county, report it back with amendments as suggested by report of the War Department thereon.
WAR DEPARTMENT, January 29, 1917. Respectfully returned to the chairman Committee on Commerce, United States
So far as the interests committed to this department are concerned, I know of no objection to the favorable consideration by Congress of the accompanying bill, S. 8003, present session, for the construction of the proposed bridge across the Mississippi River, in Morrison County, Minn., if amended as indicated in red thereon.
WM. M. INGRAHAM, Assistant Secretary of War.
FEBRUARY 6 (calendar day, FEBRUARY 7), 1917.-Ordered to be printed.
Mr. LODGE, from the Committee on Foreign Relations, submitted the following
[To accompany S. J. Res. 201.]
The Committee on Foreign Relations, having had under consideration Senate joint resolution 201, requesting the President of the United States to designate and appoint a day on which funds may be raised for the relief of the Ruthenians (Ukrainians), report the same with the recommendation that it pass the Senate.
Mr. PITTMAN, from the Committee on Territories, submitted the
[To accompany S. J. Res. 204.]
Your committee, having under consideration Senate joint resolution 204, to create a joint committee from the Senate and House to sit to consider Alaska needs and legislation, beg leave to submit this report and recommend that said resolution be passed.
REPORT No. 1015.
MEASUREMENT OF VESSELS. FOR IMPOSING TOLLS, PANAMA CANAL.
FEBRUARY 8, 1917.-Ordered to be printed.
Mr. SHIELDS, from the Committee on Interoceanic Canals, submitted the following REPORT.
[To accompany S. 8055.]
The Committee on Interoceanic Canals, to whom was referred the bill (S. 8055) providing that the Panama Canal rules shall govern in the measurement of vessels for imposing tolls, after considering the same recommend that the bill do pass.
The bill under consideration is in these words:
A BILL Providing that the Panama Canal rules shall govern in the measurement of vessels for imposing tolls.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in measuring vessels and determining the tolls to be paid thereon at the Panama Canal, the measurement shall be made and tonnage determined in all cases by the Panama Canal rules as they now exist, or as they may be changed from time to time: and the tonnage arrived at by those rules shall be the tonnage to which shall be applied the maximum and minimum rates now fixed by law or hereafter to be fixed for the purpose of determining the maximum and minimum tolls which may be charged.
SEC. 2. That all laws and parts of laws, rules and regulations in conflict with this act be, and the same are hereby, repealed.
The facts and conditions calling for this legislation are as follows: The Panama Canal act, approved August 24, 1912, authorized the President to prescribe the tolls to be levied by the Panama Canal within certain limits, and to decide upon the measurements to be adopted, but provided that "when based upon net registered tonnage for ships of commerce the tolls shall not exceed $1.25 per net registered ton."
This provision was interpreted by the Panama Canal authorities to mean the net tonnage of vessels as determined by the Panama Canal rules of measurement. These rules had been formulated by an authority on transportation matters who had been engaged by the Panama Canal authorities for this purpose, based on the funda
mental principle that commercial vessels should be taxed in accordance with their earning capacities.
The Attorney General, however, when the question was submitted to him held that the words "net registered tonnage
in the Panama Canal act must mean the net tonnage under the United States rules of measurement, and that if the toll rate established at $1.30 per net ton, when multiplied by the tonnage as ascertained by the Panama Canal rules, exceeds the amount produced by multiplying the net registered tonnage as measured by the rules prescribed in the United States statutes by $1.25, the excess thus produced is uncollectible.
The effect of this ruling has been to vitiate the principle established that vessels should pay tolls according to their earning capaci ties, to discriminate against certain ships, and decrease materially the revenues of the canal, to increase the difficulties of administration through the measurement of ships under both sets of rules, and (as a large percentage of tolls previously collected were in excess of the amount collectible under the decision) to require the rechecking of all ships' measurements to ascertain the excess.
Practically all countries charge port and light dues, wharfage, etc., on the basis of net tonnage. In view of the fact that these dues are only a few cents per ton, a number of the leading maritime nations including the United States, have entered into reciprocal relations whereby they recognize each other's tonnage certificates for levying these dues, notwithstanding the discrepancies in the different rules of measurement. The laws of the United States designate the Commissioner of Navigation as the official who shall prepare the necessary rules and regulations for the measurement of vessels of the United States. Such rules are naturally fixed so as to give our merchant vessels all the benefits possible in the reduction of any dues that may be imposed, and the rules are changed from time to time with this purpose in view. Hence, in a great majority of cases, the net tonnage of vessels under United States measurement rules is less than under the Panama Canal rules. Furthermore, the Commissioner of Navigation, in a circular dated March 16, 1915, exempted from measurement under certain conditions shelter deck and closed in spaces. These changes, when taken into account in the levying of Panama Canal tolls, still further deviate from the principle that vessels using the canal shall be taxed according to their earning capacities.
The Panama Canal rules, following strictly the principle that the earning capacity of a ship should determine its tolls, take cognizance of the deck spaces utilized for the carrying of cargo, and charges are provided for deck loads, which are not computed in fixing the United States tonnage, as well as all passenger spaces. The exemption of practically all shelter-deck spaces and deck loads of vessels using the canal (deck loads not being included in the United States measurement rules) has resulted in discrimination against most of the United States vessels transiting this waterway, owing to the fact that almost all United States vessels are so constructed that they are unable to take advantage of shelter-deck space, while a large proportion of the foreign ships have been so constructed that they can take advantage of these exemptions. On the other hand, the United States rules provide for the exemption of certain cabin spaces above the upper