Franconia Associates v. United States, 536 U.S. 129, 20 (2002)

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148

FRANCONIA ASSOCIATES v. UNITED STATES

Opinion of the Court

"remai[n] free to change its mind and render the requisite performance" without violating binding federal law. Id., at 27. Accordingly, the Government concludes, the essential purpose of the repudiation doctrine—to avoid an unnecessary lawsuit by allowing the promisor an opportunity to adhere to its undertaking—is inapplicable.

We reject the Government's premise, and therefore its conclusion. Just as Congress may announce the Govern-ment's intent to dishonor an obligation to perform in the future through a duly enacted law, so may it retract that renouncement prior to the time for performance, thereby enabling the agency or contracting official to perform as promised. Indeed, Congress "change[d] its mind" in just this manner before it enacted ELIHPA. Ibid. In the 1979 amendments to the National Housing Act, Congress repudiated the promissory notes at issue here by conditioning pre-payment of all 515 loans on the borrower's agreement to maintain the low-income use of its property for a specified period. See Housing and Community Development Amendments of 1979, 93 Stat. 1134-1135. One year later, Congress removed those conditions on pre-1979 loans, thereby retracting the repudiation. See Housing and Community Development Act of 1980, 94 Stat. 1671-1672; supra, at 135.

We comprehend no reason why an Act of Congress may not constitute a repudiation of a contract to which the United States is a party. Congress may renounce the Government's contractual duties without triggering an immediate breach because Congress may withdraw that repudiation if given the opportunity to do so. "Hence, . . . the fact that [the Government's] repudiation rested upon the enactment of a new statute makes no significant difference." Mobil Oil, 530 U. S., at 620; see id., at 619 ("[I]f legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President is not a 'statement by the obligor' " capable of triggering a repudiation, "it is difficult to imagine what would constitute such a statement." (quoting Restatement 250)).

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