Page images
PDF
EPUB

Committee staff work during the last session was being largely done on a nonpartisan basis, according to replies received to one of your own questionnaires.

The setting up of twin committee systems in both Houses has been followed by considerable intercameral staff cooperation and joint action. This has been evident, for example, in foreign affairs, fiscal affairs, housing, and on the reorganization of the government of the District of Columbia.

Some progress has also been achieved under the act in reducing the work load upon the Members of Congress. The work load on Congress caused by private bills has been considerably reduced as a result of the ban imposed by section 131 of the act upon the introduction of four classes of such legislation: Pension bills, tort claims bills, bridge bills, and bills for the correction of military or naval records. Under the Federal Tort Claims Act—title IV of the Legislative Reorganization Act-private claims for which the cause of action accrued prior to January 1, 1945, may be handled in the same manner as they were before passage of Public Law 601, except that bills providing for their payment or adjudication are now generally referred, as you-know, to the Judiciary Committees. As a result of this and other exceptions, which had not been recommended by the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress, the Judiciary Committees were engulfed by a flood of private claims bills during the first session of the Eightieth Congress. One thousand private claims bills were referred to the House Judiciary Committee during the session, as well as 540 private immigration bills, the introduction of which is still permissible. The Senate Committee on the Judiciary received 150 private claims bills. and 176 private immigration bills during the session. At the end of the session three-fourths of all the bills on the House Judiciary Committee calendar were private bills; and 37 percent of those on the calendar of the Senate Judiciary Committee were private bills. Thus, these committees carry the heaviest work load of any in Congress. They need to be relieved of bills "for the relief of * * *."

A measure of the reduction of the work load on Senators is seen in the decline in the number of Senate committee assignments from the Seventy-ninth to the Eightieth Congresses. Table 7 shows that the total number of Senate committee assignments decreased from 1,030 during the Seventy-ninth Congress to 516 during the first session of the Eightieth Congress, a reduction of 50 percent. The appended table No. 7 shows that the average number of committee assignments of all kinds for each Senator has decreased from 10.7 to 5.4 since 1946.

In discussing the effects of the act upon the congressional work load, let me say that the proponents of a more efficient Congress have never claimed that structural reforms in our legislative machinery would reduce the volume of congressional business. The purpose of the changes in committee structure was not so much to reduce the work load as it was to effect a more systematic and rational division of labor among the reorganized committees. The organization of committee work in the Eightieth Congress is, in my opinion, an improvement over the previous situation as a result of the elimination of duplicating and overlapping jurisdiction and the consolidation of related functions effected by the La Follette-Monroney Act, although there may be room for further improvement in this direction.

Some progress has also been made under the act in supervising the executive branch. Legislative oversight of the administration of the laws via the standing committees of Congress was authorized by section 136 of the act and some first steps have been taken to carry out this provision. A survey of committee activity during the last session shows that at least eight standing committees of the Senate and seven in the House were actively engaged in the performance of the oversight function. These committees are listed in exhibit C. Prominent among them in this respect were the Appropriations and Expenditure Committees of both Houses and the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee of the House. The results achieved by these committees in the exercise of their supervisory function are and will be reflected in their reports upon the agencies and activities which they have been investigating. Many of the standing committees of Congress have been too heavily burdened to date with their legislative duties to keep very close watch upon the executive agencies within their jurisdiction.

Parenthetically, Mr. Chairman, I should like to comment upon the division of labor intended by the Legislative Reorganization Act and its authors in the performance of this oversight function. There has been some confusion in the public mind on this question. Some of the critics of the act have alleged that it provided, in effect, for duplicating and overlapping investigations of the executive branch of the Government by many committees. But it was the intention of the authors of this act and of the members of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress to effect a so-called three-way division of labor in the performance of the oversight function. Their thought was that the Appropriations Committees, on the one hand, would exercise financial control before expenditure through the scrutiny of the departmental estimates, and that the Expenditure Committees would undertake to supervise administrative practices and procedures of the executive agencies, on the other hand, while the legislative committees of the Congress would have the function of reviewing the operation of substantive legislation.

Incidentally, Mr. Chairman, I suggest that possibly a better name for this committee would be “the Committee on Administrative Management and Public Accounts.” Such a title might more correctly cover its important functions.

Several miscellaneous gains have also been achieved. On half of the 22 general appropriation bills passed by the first session of the Eightieth Congress, time was allowed in both Houses for Members to study the committee hearings and reports before the appropriation bills were taken up on the floor.

The legislative time schedule has been regularized by the provision for adjournment at the end of July. This leave 5 months each year for closer contacts with constituents and for instructive travel at home and abroad.

The usefulness of the Congressional Record has been improved by the inclusion therein of a Daily Digest and, at intervals, of a résumé of congressional activities. The Digest has a staff composed of two editors, two reporters, and two secretaries who cover Chamber action and committee meetings for both Houses every day.

Almost 1,000 lobbyists have registered under title III of the act, but only a little over 200 of them have filed the required quarterly

financial statements. In this connection, Mr. Chairman, I should like to state that the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress recommended that all persons engaged in seeking to influence legislation should register and file financial statements. The joint committee did not intend to limit such registrations and financial statements to persons "principally” engaged in lobbying.

As a measure of increased efficiency, total public laws passed by the Eightieth Congress, first session, were 394 compared with 293 by the Seventy-ninth Congress, first session. Meanwhile, total private bills enacted declined from 365 in the first session of the Seventy-ninth Congress to 131 in the first session of the Eightieth Congress-reflecting a commendable shift in legislative attention from private to public measures.

Thus, while important potential benefits remain to be achieved from the full enforcement of the act, it cannot be denied, I think, that the new law bas resulted thus far in some very substantial gains in committee structure and operation, in the staffing of Congress, in the reduction of the work load, and in supervising the administration, despite some academic and editorial comment to the contrary.

Turning to the amendments of the act during the session under review, no major amendments of the Legislative Reorganization Act were made during the last session. Presumably Congress desired to adapt itself to the extensive new arrangements before making any further changes or additions. However, five minor amendments to the act were approved during the session under review:

1. In order to prevent the loss of committee personnel during the transition from the old to the new regime, one amendment provided that standing committees' employees in both Houses and the employees of certain Senators should be continued on the pay rolls through January 31, 1947.

2. A second amendment placed a lower ceiling on the annual rate of compensation for part of the clerical staffs of Senate standing committees.

3. A third amendment made it clear that the rates of annual compensation for committee employees prescribed in section 202 (e) of the act were basic rates.

4. Sections 410 and 420 of the Federal Tort Claims Act were amended so as to make the United States liable for actual or compensatory damages in States which provide for only punitive damages-Alabama and Massachusetts—so as to equalize the application of this act throughout the country, and so as to extend the statute of limitations in such States to 2 years from the effective date of the act.

5. Section 134 (b) of the act was amended to provide for the publication of information concerning committee employees and expenditures in the Congressional Record semiannually instead of in the Congressional Directory.

On the subject of nonenforcement of the act during the Eightieth Congress, first session, I find that some 12 sections of the act were not enforced.

Section 103: Eighteen violations of the prohibition against including substantive legislation in appropriation bills were noted.

Section 121 (2) (d). The Committee on House Administration made its final report to the House on contested-election cases (8) on July 23, 1947--"later than 6 months from the first day of the first regular session * * *"

Section 133 (e). Not all witnesses filed written statements in advance of their appearance before congressional committees.

Section 133 (f). Not all standing committee hearings were open to the public. The House Committee on Appropriations was the chief exception here.

Section 138. The legislative budget provisions were partly carried out, but the concurrent resolution was not adopted because it became deadlocked in conference.

Section 139 (a). Provision for a 3-day interval between report and floor consideration of general appropriation bills was violated 11 times in the House and 12 times in the Senate.

Section 139 (b). Standard appropriation classification schedule has not yet been developed by the Committees on Appropriations. The Senate Appropriations Committee was not fully staffed until midOctober 1947, and can work on this only during the recess.

Section 139 (d). Recommendations to limit permanent appropriations have not yet been submitted by the Committee on Appropriations. The Senate Appropriations Committee was not fully staffed until mid-October 1947, and can work on this only during the recess.

Section 203 (c). Of $650,000 authorized for the Legislative Reference Service for the fiscal year 1948, $450,000 was appropriated.

Section 204. Of $200,000 authorized for the Office of Legislative Counsel, $160,000 was appropriated.

Sections 205 and 206. The studies and expenditures analyses which the Comptroller General was authorized to make have not yet been made owing to lack of funds.

And, finally, under title III, probably many lobbyists have failed to register and file financial statements.

Coming, finally, Mr. Chairman, to “Next steps forward,” the next steps in the current evolution toward a more efficient National Legislature, when Congress is ready to consider them, may well include the following. In submitting these suggestions, Mr. Chairman, I am expressing my own views and not those of the Legislative Reference Service:

I suggest, first, in connection with the committee structure and operation of the Congress, discontinuance of all special committees in both Houses.

Senator BRICKER. As I understand it, two special committees in the Senate will pass out of existence during this term.

Dr. GALLOWAY. Yes, sir. One of those committees, I believe, the Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, has already been absorbed by this committee, and that leaves only the Special Committee to Study Problems of American Small Business.

Senator BRICKER. That is true. What is the situation in the House?

Dr. GALLOWAY. In the House, as table 1 shows, there are presently five select committees, of which four are worth mentioning. The Select Committee on Small Business, the Select Committee on Supplies of Newsprint, the Select Committee on Foreign Aid—the socalled Herter committee, which is now completing its work—and the Select Committee to Investigate Transactions on Commodity Exchanges, which is a temporary committee.

The jurisdiction of the standing committees has been so comprehensively defined in the reformed rules as to cover every conceivable subject of legislation. Thus, to set up a special committee is to trepass upon the assigned jurisdiction of some standing committee.

In the second place, I suggest that the Joint Committee on Reduction of Nonessential Federal Expenditures be discontinued. This committee was established by section 601 of the Revenue Act of 1941 to make a full and complete study and investigation of all expenditures of the Federal Government with a view to recommending the elimination or reduction of all such expenditures deemed by the committee to be nonessential.” This joint committee has made many useful studies and reports during the last 6 years and has rendered a great public service. But its function overlaps that of the Committees on - Expenditures in the Executive Departments which, having been rejuvenated by the Legislative Reorganization Act, are now equipped to assume their historic responsibilities in this field.

In the third place, I suggest that the election of committee chairmen

Senator BRICKER. Just one minute. - Mr. Van HORN. Dr. Galloway, may I ask if Senate Joint Resolution 182 has come to your attention? That is the resolution introduced by Senator Butler to create a joint committee for the formation of a legislative budget. I shall quote from it:

It shall be the duty of the committee to make a continuing study and investigation of all expenditures of the Federal Government with a view to recommending the elimination or reduction of all such expenditures deemed by the committee not essential, and the committee shall report to Congress the result of its study.

Have you seen that resolution?
Dr. GALLOWAY. Yes, I have.

Mr. VAN HORN. Would you care to make any comment on that, Dr. Galloway?

Dr. Galloway. Yes, sir. In my opinion, it would be a mistake to adopt that part of the resolution that you have just read which would create a joint committee on executive expenditures because the function of scrutinizing such expenditures has already been assigned and is being ably carried out by the standing Committees on Expenditures of the two Houses.

Furthermore, it seems to me that when you consider the multitudinous number of agencies in the executive branch of the National Government which are depicted upon that chart upon the wall, and when you consider their multifarious activities, it would be much too big a task to assign to any single committee of the Congress, be it joint or a committee of either House, to investigate the expenditures, the practices and the procedures of all the agencies in the administrative branch of the National Government.

That suggestion was seriously considered by the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress and, after due deliberation, the committee recommended and the Congress approved of the division of the oversight function among the standing committees of both Houses. We were also persuaded to make that recommendation, and I think the Congress was convinced in approving of it, by the experience of the so-called Smith committee of the House of Representatives which had this function proposed to be assigned to this joint committee by the resolution you have read, which attempted to perform it for several

« PreviousContinue »