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measures are called up. This, in itself, opens the way for younger members to display and develop their talents over any restrictions the seniority rule may impose.
In the light of these limitations on the power of committee chairmen and opportunities afforded to others regardless of seniority, the matter of seniority loses much of its former importance. At the same time, the usefulness of the seniority rule in solving conflicting claims is retained and no satisfactory substitute has been found.
The committee on committees makes recommendations of committee chairmen now. It applies a combination of factors, with seniority among the most important. It submits these recommendations to the entire party conference which has the power, if it wishes to exercise it, of confirming, altering or rejecting the recommendations. This still remains the only practical method of selecting men of ability, public interest and party accountability.
CONGRESSIONAL WORK LOAD The Reorganization Act included several provisions to reduce the work load of Members of Congress. It barely scratched the surface because the heavy burden continues. There is a limit to the amount of relief which can be obtained from improvements in legislative machinery, and then the only further solution will lie in absolute reduction of the work load itself.
Congress now legislates for a Federal Government which collects and disburses approximately $40,000,000,000 annually, almost a fifth of the entire national income. Federal legislative and executive operations reach out to every metropolis and crackerbarrel in the Nation. In recent years Congress has stretched its long arm to every crossroad of the world.
This enormous extension of activities of the Federal Government generates a volume of detailed and complex business which I believe has gone beyond the capacity of Congress to handle. It is no answer to say that the problem can be solved by administrative management because Congress must still deal with the work load it involves. Moreover, the administrative departments of government are showing unmistakable signs that the Federal Government has undertaken more than it can handle within the principles of good and efficient government.
Notwithstanding the evidence that a law of diminishing returns is actively at work in the field of Federal Government, the pressure for Congress to extend itself further continues unabated. Not a session of Congress occurs but what hundreds of bills are filed to extend Federal activities and some of these bills are passed.
This committee is definitely interested in good and efficient government. I believe the committee is challenged to find ways and means not only of improving congressional machinery but also of reducing the magnitude of Federal operations itself. Just as overextension in any other quarter will threaten a break-down, the overcentralization of government can produce the same result for a whole country with an irreparable loss to the security and welfare of its people.
The CHAIRMAN. This is the last witness that we have scheduled. We have had the hope that some of the committee chairmen might find time to come before the committee and give us their views on the value of the Reorganization Act to date and how it could be strengthened. We realize, however, that the committee chairmen have been and are extremely busy. They are all overburdened. If we find it possible and feasible to hear some of them, we will do so; otherwise, the committee will do the best it can in making its recommendations to the Senate and will undoubtedly wish to confer with those who have appeared before us as witnesses.
I think the testimony of the last 2 days has been exceptional, and I am not trying to bestow undue praise on any of the witnesses when I say that, but I do think that it has been exceptional. It will all be printed and will be of value to us. It has been and will be a longcontinuing job to improve the methods of the Congress and of the Government.
I want to say now that I enjoy the work of this committee tremendously, and I know that the others have enjoyed it. There hasn't been a meeting called when we have had an important matter to vote on that we have lacked a quorum. We haven't had quorums all the time for matters that did not require a vote. But the interest among the members of the committee has been extraordinarily gratifying and, I think, bodes well for the future work which we will do.
That concludes the hearing for the day.
(Whereupon, at 1:15 p. m., the committee adjourned without date.)
EVALUATION OF LEGISLATIVE REORGANIZATION ACT
· OF 1946
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 1948
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10 a. m., in the committee room, 357 Senate Office Building, Senator George D. Aiken (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senators Aiken (chairman), Hickenlooper, and Thye.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order, and we will continue with the hearings authorized under section 102 (1) (g) (2) (C), page 6 of the Reorganization Act of 1946, which gives this committee the duty of evaluating the effects of laws enacted to reorganize the legislative and executive branches of the Government. We have had several very informative hearings on the subject, and are continuing them until they are completed. This morning we have two witnesses. The first of them is Dr. Franklin L. Burdette, professor of government and politics, University of Maryland, College Park, Md. Professor Burdette, if you will take the stand, we shall be glad to have your statement and your suggestions as to how we can still further improve the efficiency of the legislative branch of the Government.
STATEMENT OF FRANKLIN L. BURDETTE, PROFESSOR OF GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK, MD.
Professor BURDETTE. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, it is my understanding that these hearings invite observations intended to strengthen the effectiveness of Congress, with emphasis on the work of the Senate. Perhaps my point of view ought to be set forth. I believe that public policy should be determined by Congress. I believe in congressional dignity, prestige, and importance. Congress is and ought to be an arena of conflicts, for the making of public policy involves clashes of interest. Self-government as we know it is based on the idea that even bitter differences on public issues are fought out in accordance with parliamentary rules. The work which Congress does in determining policy through reconciling conflicts entitles it to public respect and confidence.
The points which I wish to emphasize are therefore directed specifically toward increasing the prestige of Congress in the public mind, and toward further support for its role as an effective policy maker. 1. Study of freedom of debate in the Senate convinces me that its values can be preserved without the more obvious abuses of organized filibusters.
The advantages of full debate are immense: It is the duty of the Senate carefully to examine legislation, to afford all sides an opportunity to be heard, and to allow time for public reaction from all parts of the country. The Senate has a particular responsibility to act as a check upon the executive, a function more readily performed if even a small minority may speak fully on any subject. It has also been argued, on behalf of unlimited debate, that minorities have rights which no majority may properly override and that a Senate majority does not necessarily represent a majority of the people.
Yet the admitted advantages of extended debate are subject to abuses. Against such abuses persuasive arguments are brought to bear: On legislative questions within the power of Congress, the majority should rule. The Senate should legislate efficiently, with due responsibility to the States and to the people. Moreover, experience abroad and in the State legislatures indicates that debate can be limited without undesirable results.
The Senate should devise an effective means of cloture by majority vote, with adequate safeguards for full debate, Since 1917, under the present process of cloture by a two-thirds majority, debate has been limited only 4 times in 20 attempts. The tradition of the Senate is rightly in favor of full deliberation. Nevertheless, with the increasing press of business, there has been a growing tendency to limit debate in specific instances by unanimous consent. I am convinced that the prestige of the Senate will be increased if it should adopt the essentially modest change of cloture by majority vote, perhaps by a majority of the total membership. I believe that such majority cloture should be invoked only after a reasonable time for free debate or, better still, that after the application of cloture each Senator should have an adequate time for debate.
By referring to majority cloture as essentially a modest change, I am suggesting that it will add to public esteem for the Senate without impairing real freedom of debate. Majority cloture would not end filibustering, or the threat of it. It would have almost no effect on brief filibusters at critical moments. I think it would diminish some of the more dramatic but unnecessary filibustering. A candid student of Senate obstruction will conclude, I think, that the late Senator Hiram W. Johnson shrewdly assayed much of it when he referred to a spectacular example as a "pink tea" or "feather duster" filibuster. He believed that both sides of the controversy in question-an antilynching bill-sought political capital from a battle which caused more bitterness in the newspapers than in the Senate. He knew, as the public does not know, that an implacable struggle between a majority and an obstructing minority is present only when there are extended sessions and strict enforcement of the Senate rules.
Two methods of filibustering in the Senate would not be touched by any system of cloture which has been proposed. The first results from the present Senate rules, and the second is imbedded in the Constitution itself. Rule XXI providesAll motions shall be reduced to writing, if desired by the Presiding Officer or by any Senator, and shall be read before the same shall be debated.
So far as I know, the possibilities in this rule for filibustering have been exploited only by Senator Matthew S. Quay, who in 1903 presented for reading a motion of 46 printed pages. The rule could be modified, of course, and the practice of rapid or partial reading might be employed to prevent filibustering. Obstruction by repeated roll calls is protected by language in article I, section 5, paragraph 3 of the Constitution: and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one-fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal. An issue might be raised regarding the meaning of the word “question," but rule XVIII at present augments possibilities for obstruction by permitting any Senator to have divided any question containing several propostions. This method of filibustering, often devastating and complete, has been exploited on a number of occasions in Senate history. If a large number of amendments had been introduced prior to the application of cloture, it would be difficult to prevent timeconsuming votes on them.
These methods of filibustering are mentioned to bulwark the peint that majority cloture would not completely end organized filibustering in the Senate. There are other bastions of defense for Senate minorities who may have considered the tradition of unlimited debate as their last resort. Filibustering by extended roll calls is not so easily defended before the public as is extensive debate. Consequently, majority clotur« would serve to reduce filibusteri:g for purely political effect.
2. A second suggestion which I respectfully offer for the increased prestige of Congress relates to the problem of witnesses before congressional committees. It is a fact, of course, that most witnesses are treated with great courtesy and consideration and that they are given ample opportunity for full and fair hearings. Problems arise only in the case of uncooperative witnesses, or in the rare instances when witnesses are not allowed to state fully their own views, or in circumstances in which charges are detrimental to persons who may or may not be witnesses. A few of these difficulties have been magnified sufficiently to be damaging to the Congress as a whole.
I do not believe personally that congressional hearings should be formalized by procedures involving participation of counsel for witnesses or cross-examination. I do believe that two safeguards should be provided by rule: (1) that every witness be given an opportunity to make a relevant written or oral statement, the choice of form to be at the discretion of the committee, as a part of the record of the hearing; and (2) that any person about whom testimony or information is presented at a hearing shall be entitled within a reasonable time to make for the record an oral or written statement pertinent to the issues involved.
3. The importance of Congress to the national welfare is so great that it ought never to insist on economies in its own work at the possible sacrifice of efficiency or effectiveness. The adequate staffing of Congress is so important for efficiency that additional attention may properly be given to personnel.
It is clearly the intent of Congress, I think, in section 202 (a) of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 to provide a permanent, nonpolitical professional staff for committees. I suggest that it will be wise, in advance of any possible test, to provide by law that dismissal