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S. 3771, A bill authorizing the President to coordinate or consolidate executive bureaus, agencies, and offices… (Overman Act), March 18, 1918

Senator Lee S. Overman of North Carolina sponsored the Departmental Reorganization Act, also called the Overman Act. It passed Congress in May 1918 to expand the wartime authority of President Woodrow Wilson. During the war and six months following, Congress gave the president power to establish or modify government institutions for more efficient operation of the war.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

S. 3771, A bill authorizing the President to coordinate or consolidate executive bureaus, agencies, and offices… (Overman Act), March 18, 1918

Congress Grants Power to Wartime Presidents

The Constitution authorizes Congress to pass legislation necessary to execute the powers and responsibilities of the federal government. During the First and Second World Wars, Congress temporarily granted extraordinary power to the president to expedite certain wartime policies. The Department Reorganization Act (Overman Act) of 1918 gave President Woodrow Wilson broad authority to create or reorder government agencies. The War Powers Acts of 1941 and 1942 granted President Franklin D. Roosevelt extensive powers to support the war effort and provide for the nation’s defense.

This bill merely gives the President . . . powers that are necessary to win the war, but powers that should be returned to the Congress when the war has been won.

Representative Hamilton Fish, Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives, December 16, 1941