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during which period Congress retains the right to veto them. If no Congressional veto takes place, the executive proposals go into effect.
Provisional legislation enables Congress concurrently (a) to establish policy, (6) to avoid bogging down over details, and (c) to exert control in advance of executive action. On the other hand, it enables the executive branch to work out technical details, which it can do at least as well as Congress, and to achieve a desirable flexibility in administration.
Provisional legislation was not made a part of the Joint Committee report or the Act primarily because its use and application are not yet fully recognized. It is nonetheless a worthwhile technique for reducing the Congressional work load and permitting Congress to concentrate on major policy. VII. Elimination of riders
Congress should discontinue the passing of riders that are unrelated to the main content of bills.
This recommendation has been adopted in its entirety.
Continued vigilance is nonetheless necessary. The Act restates the Senate rule and thereby records an intention. The House has a similar rule. However, the intention can be circumvented if the Rules Committee should bring in a special rule to cover a particular case or if no member raises a point of order when a “rider" is presented. VIII. Broader appropriation bills
Congress should trend toward reasonably broad appropriation bills and away from detailed bills.
This recommendation is endorsed implicitly in the Act by change in rules, which is all that could be expected. The Act directs the Appropriations Committees to develop standard appropriation classification schedules and uniform accounts, thereby tending to eliminate excessive itemization. The Act also directs the General Accounting Office to study restrictions placed on expenditures to determine the general desirability thereof and specifically whether compliance costs more than if there were no restrictions. IX. General Accounting Office
Congress should insure that the General Accounting Office is an effective instrument for control of executive expenditures:
1. By giving it audit power over all Federal agencies, departments, and corporations. 2. By insisting on current and useful reports from the Office.
3. By establishing a Joint Committee on Public Accounts to insure action on these reports.
This recommendation has been adopted in its entirety by statute, except that reports are to be submitted to the appropriate regular standing committees rather than to & Joint Committee on Public Accounts. While the latter would be the best method of insuring action, it is expected that the regular standing committees, plus the Senate and House Committees on Expenditures in the Executive Departments which will receive all reports, will exercise sufficient surveillance. X. Question periods to hold executive branch accountable
Congress should experiment with periods for questioning executive department heads before each of the whole Houses.
This recommendation falls within the category of "floor procedure" and therefore was excluded from the consideration of the Joint Committee because of the euphemism designed to preserve the right of filibuster.
The question period is a desirable technique. With the proper safeguards, it would have the following advantages, as set forth in Strengthening the Congress:
"1. All members, rather than only the members of affected committees, could hear the presentation of executive officials on important matters.
"2. Public interest would be engendered in vital questions.
“3. The transmission of information now conveyed loosely and informally through press conferences, committee hearings, telephone calls, and chance meetings would be institutionalized and definitized.
“4. Congress would readily obtain succinct and responsible written statements of executive policies, plans, and procedures. As a result, Congress would tend to be more receptive to executive-sponsored legislation than when such legislation is presented without forewarning and without Congressional participation in formulation.
"5. The plan might provide desirable incentives for executive department heads by creating public recognition for well-done jobs; conversely, it might ultimately bring about the resignation of department heads whose programs had been repudiated.” XI. Formal inquiries into basic national affairs
Congress should make more frequent formal and organized inquiries into basic national affairs.
This recommendation was not made a part of the Joint Committee report or the Act because it is properly a function of each Congress. It is therefore incumbent upon the people to make known which basic national affairs they wish made subject to formal and organized inquiries.
These inquiries might be conducted by a regular standing committee, by & special committee, or by a mixed commission composed of members of Congress as well as executive branch officials and private citizens. The nature of the subject should determine which of the three is employed. Parenthetically, however, it should be noted that regular standing committees have the disadvantage of having a full load to carry in the ordinary conduct of their work; that special committees have the disadvantage of confusing the contemplated clean-cut committee structure and of tending to become self-perpetuating; and that mixed commissions have the advantage of utilizing specialized and authoritative personnel.
Typical subjects currently needing national inquiries are the construction industry and labor-management relations. XII. Seniority rule
/ Congress should develop a substitute for the seniority rule for committee chairman
The Joint Committee reported that its membership was unable to agree upon a recommendation, and the Act is correspondingly silent. Nonetheless, the case against the seniority system in Strengthening the Congress still holds and will continue to hold until action is taken, as follows:
"Chairmen of Congressional committees wield a powerful influence. They are appointed on the bases of (a) length of service on the committee and (6) affiliation with the majority party. This rule has been rigid for many years. It has the following serious defects:
“1. The protection given a chairman because of his seniority enables him to be arbitrary with impunity.
“2. The seniority rule practically eliminates the possibility of withholding a committee chairmanship from the senior man, even though he may be unqualified for the job.
"3. The reasons for reelection may have no correlation with competency for a chairmanship. Thus, the basis for selection of chairmen is one not necessarily related to the factors which should control.
“4. Those sections of the country which regularly reelect their members of Congress tend to obtain overbalanced control when their party comes into power because their members accumulate seniority even when their party is not in power. Other sections of the country reflect changes in public sentiment by electing new members. But the latter have little chance to hold the positions where the changed public sentiment could receive appropriate recognition.
“The seniority rule is to be deplored. The people of the United States have a right to expect Congress to find a better substitute. Party leadership should address itself earnestly toward this end. Efforts to achieve the degree of party responsibility and accountability needed will be seriously impeded unless the seniority rule is eliminated.
"In this report no substitute or modification is recommended. The problem of seniority is so bound up with traditions, emotions, personalities, and other considerations essentially internal to Congress that a definite recommendation based on external study would be inappropriate. The solution should be worked out within the Congressional family.'
Several factors should bring the seniority system to a crisis in the near future:
1. The reduction in number of committees makes the chairmen more important than ever.
2. The strong possibility of establishment of Majority and Minority Policy Committees composed of committee chairmen necessitates that the latter be the best men for the job.
3. The need for increased party responsibility and accountability makes it imperative that the seniority system be discarded as a shield protecting committee chairmen from the will of the majority.
The seniority system should be abolished, and a better system for selecting committee chairmen should be established. XIII. $25,000 salaries
Members of Congress should be paid salaries of $25,000 per year.
The Act by statute awards members an increase from $10,000 to $12,500 plus a $2,500 tax-free expense allowance, giving the equivalent of a salary of $16,000 or more owing to the tax saving on the expense allowance.
Because of wartime wage stabilization measures and subsequent anti-inflation policies, together with the ever-present reluctance of members to raise their own salaries in view of possible political repercussions, this increase is about all that could have been expected. It is still inadequate. The salary should be $25,000.
It is extremely unfortunate that members of Congress are placed in the illogical position of fixing their own compensation. Until a method is devised for removing the present stigma, it is to be expected that members will be underpaid from the standpoints of both what they need and what they ought to have.
A perfectly legal and logical way to remedy this situation would be for Congress to request the United States Supreme Court, or some other agency of preeminent position, to study Congressional compensation and make recommendations. While it would still be necessary for Congress to enact the legislation, nonetheless the absurd existing situation would have been at least partially alleviated. XIV. Retirement pay
With certain exceptions, members of Congress should receive at age 55 annual Service Retirement pay of $1,000 for each full year of Congressional service, up to a maximum of $10,000 annually.
This recommendation designed to permit any member 55 or more years of age to retire with adequate pay commensurate with his years of service. It was not intended to mean that members had to retire at 55. Members, of course, may serve as long as their constituents so desire.
The Act by statute places members under the regular Federal Retirement System. This retirement pay is not all it should be for many good reasons. It violates the principle laid down in Strengthening the Congress that “Congressional Service Retirement should meet the particular requirements and deserts of Congressional service. Other retirement plans for other types of services with other attendant circumstances shed little light on the type of program suitable for Congress."
However, as in the case of the salary increase, half a loaf is better than none and it is perhaps unwise at this time to devote appreciable effort toward consummating a more fitting arrangement. XV. Reduction of Congressional work load
The Congressional work load should be reduced or reallocated.
Congress is seriously overburdened. Several recommendations in Strengthening the Congress were specifically designed to correct this situation. There are many things which can be done. Presented below are certain recommendations of the Joint Committee toward this end, all of which are good:
"1. That Congress divest itself of the duty of governing the District of Columbia and provide for a referendum on adoption of self-government by city charter.
“2. That an Office of Congressional Personnel be established to provide Congress with a modern personnel system for all its service employees; to establish qualification standards, job classifications, tenure of employment, regular rules for promotion and pay increases, leave, retirement.
"3. That a complete and understandable digest of a bill, together with legislative changes made by the bill, written in nontechnical language, accompany the committee report on each bill; and that this digest include a supporting statement of reasons for its passage, of the national interest involved, its cost, and the distribution of any benefits.
“4. That Congress delegate authority to the Federal courts and to the Court of Claims to hear and settle claims against the Federal Government; and that Government agencies and departments be empowered to handle local and private matters now provided for in private bills, such as private pension bills and legislation authorizing construction of bridges over navigable streams."
The Senate refused to pass the first and second, and the House refused to pass the third. Therefore, only the fourth was enacted by change in rules. There are several reasons for rejection of the first; some are good and some are bad, but all represent the sincere convictions of their propounders. The reason for rejection of the second is fear of infringement of patronage. There seems to be no good reason for rejection of the third. XVI. Fiscal policy and legislative budget
A soundly conceived fiscal and monetary policy is vitally important. Nevertheless, of all its activities, Congress appears weakest in this respect. There is little effort made (a) to release total revenue and total appropriations so that they are balanced or designedly unbalanced, (6) to analyze specific revenue measures in terms of total revenue requirements, (c) to align specific appropriations measures with a predetermined level for total appropriations, (d) to grant real discretion to appropriations committees as regards the total amount of money to be spent since such a large percentage is already committed by the previous passage of substantive legislation. Majority Policy Committees would be in a strategic position to determine over-all fiscal policy and to assure that legislation coming forward through all committees was in accordance therewith.
Getting and spending the taxpayers' money warrants a rational and controlled Congressional procedure. Instead, there is fiscal anarchy. The Joint Committee sums up its appraisal with a question: "With this divided authority existing ... how could Congress have a general fiscal policy or follow it if it had one?"
The recommendation made by the Joint Committee to meet this situation is as follows:
"That by joint action the Revenue and Appropriations Committees of both Houses submit to the Congress within 60 days after each session opens a concurrent resolution setting over-all Federal receipts and expenditures (estimated) for the coming fiscal year. If total expenditures recommended exceed estimated income, Congress should be required by record vote to authorize creation of additional Federal debt in the amount of the excess. All appropriations (with specific exceptions] would be reduced by a uniform percentage in case total appropriations exceeded the amount of the approved budget figure."
The foregoing recommendation was adopted by the Senate. However, it was revised by the House and eventually appeared in the Act as a change in rules, as paraphrased below:
"The Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Finance and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate are directed to meet jointly at the beginning of each regular session of Congress and report a legislative budget for the ensuing fiscal year, including the estimated over-all Federal receipts and expenditures for such year. Such report shall contain a recommendation for the maximum amount to be appropriated for expenditure in such year. If the estimated receipts exceed the estimated expenditures, such report shall contain a recommendation for a reduction in the public debt.
"The report shall fix the maximum amount to be appropriated for expenditure in such year. If the estimated expenditures exceed the estimated receipts, the resolution shall include a section as follows: "That it is the sense of the Congress that the public debt shall be increased in an amount equal to the amount by which the estimated expenditures for the ensuing fiscal year exceed the estimated receipts, such amount being $.-------
The Act accomplishes an important objective: appropriations are viewed as a whole; revenues are viewed as a whole; appropriations and revenues are related; and Congress must face up to increasing the federal debt if expenditure estimates exceed receipts estimates. While all these Congressional actions may seem elementary, they are nevertheless a long step forward. It is one thing to incur debt after a series of appropriations have been passed and it is found that revenues are insufficient. It is quite another thing to acknowledge at the outset that additional debt will have to be incurred. The people will have their first opportunity for registering opposition to debt increase during a given fiscal year before that year is virtually over.
Despite the substantial progress represented by the Act, it is not enough. The total appropriation should be set as a matter of policy. The Joint Committee proposed that if the individual appropriations exceed this total, they should be reduced pro rata, automatically, except certain irreducible items such as permannent appropriations, interest on the public debt, and veterans' pensions.
The Joint Committee recommendations on machinery for formulation of fiscal policy contain a serious deficiency. The establishment of policy and the resolution of conflicts are placed in the hands of the two revenue committees and the two appropriations committees. This decision was probably regarded by the Joint Committee as politically expedient. However, it seems clear that a matter of such over-all importance would be much better discharged by Policy Committees than by four regular standing committees for the following reasons:
1. Fiscal responsibility would be more clearly focused upon the party than if fiscal policy were in the hands of bipartisan committees.
2. Policy Committees would bring about a much more complete synthesis of conflicting interests.
3. Policy Committees would ensure representation of all points of view to an extent not to be expected in the case of the four regular standing committees.
4. Since the Policy Committees would be responsible for the general management of Congress, it would be necessary that they control money matters, just as in the case of any general management.
With fiscal matters in the hands of Policy Committees, the responsibility of the majority party would be clearly fixed.
Sometime in the early spring, the Majority Policy Committees would issue a statement giving for the following fiscal year the estimated revenues and the proposed expenditures, and stating that the public debt would be increased or decreased accordingly. Then, if total appropriations exceeded the estimated expenditures, either the appropriations would have to be reduced or the increase in public debt approved.
Nor would the minority party be able to escape accountability. It too would be obliged to come forward with its fiscal program and to be specific about ways and means.
These things are wholly possible. XVII. Miscellaneous
Several miscellaneous recommendations were made by the Joint Committee, most of which were adopted by Congress. All are deemed good. However, with the possible exception of the provision for the registration of lobbyists, they are not of major significance. They are listed below for the record:
1. Regular recess period at close of each fiscal year.
THE IMMEDIATE JOB The Act is divided into six separate “titles," or parts. The last five are statutory and hence can be changed only by an act of the new Congress. However, the first title which contains the all-important matters of committee reduction, rider elimination, ban on private bills, legislative budget, and reduction of excessive itemization is simply a change in rules. In the case of the Senate, these rules go into effect automatically unless specifically changed, since the Senate is regarded as a continuing body. In the case of the House, these rules must be adopted as part of the complete new set of rules adopted at the beginning of each Congress.
Therein lies the real danger of losing the gains already made. This danger is pointed up by the very first sentence in Title I, which reads:
"The following sections of this title are enacted by the Congress * * * with full recognition of the constitutional right of either House to change such rules (so far as relating to the procedure in such House) at any time, in the same manner and to the same extent as in the case of any other rule of such House."
The constructive steps outlined in Title I of the Act can therefore be nullified in the House simply by failing to include them in the new rules which it adopts, and in the Senate simply by amending its rules.
Amendment of the rules would not affect the provision for salary increases and retirement pay. These measures are part of the statutory sections of the Act. It is not probable that a new Congress will pass a law changing the statutory provisions of the Act, for to do so might jeopardize the provisions for salary increase and retirement pay.
Many people who might have opposed the pay increase were mollified by the fact that the Congress at the same time took important steps to improve its organization. To backslide on these steps but preserve the salary increase and