Pearl Harbor had come and gone, and in 1942, the United States was deeply enmeshed in World War II. Buoyed by extenuating circumstances in this time of crisis, Henry Steagall (D-AL), chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency, introduced the bill that later became the Emergency Price Control Act (EPCA). Designed to combat inflation during wartime, the federal law created the Office of Price Administration (OPA) to fix maximum prices on both select commodities (think: food, fibers, tobacco) and rent. It narrowly passed in the House on November 28, 1941. Upon signing the EPCA into law on January 30, 1942, President Roosevelt, ever the convincing orator, said, “Nothing could better serve the purposes of our enemies than that we should become the victims of inflation.The total effort needed for victory means, of course, increasing sacrifices from each of us, as an ever larger portion of our goods and our labor is devoted to the production of ships, tanks, planes, and guns. Effective price control will insure that these sacrifices are equitably distributed.”
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