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And I may be the first person out of here that advocates term limits. If we don't get congressional reform this year, we are never going to get it. How much more clearly can the American people speak? I still have to tell you, I think there are some of our folks, some of them even well intentioned in the two Houses, some of them in the power structure of the two Houses, that don't seem to get it yet. And I think they had better get it pretty quickly, because if they don't, the people are going to make these changes if we don't take the responsibility to do it for ourselves.
Mr. DREIER. Thank you very much, Senator Boren. It sounds to me as if this committee is going to get something done.
Ms. DUNN. Thank you, Mr. Vice Chairman.
I want to pick up on one thread that keeps coming up that we are hearing a lot about in these hearings-it seems to be an emerging theme and that is of limiting the committee Chairman. As you know, the Republican Conference has done that with Ranking Republicans, a limit of 6 years.
I would like to hear your thoughts on this, Mr. McCurdy, the concern that I have heard out in my district about staff being given a lot more of the power.
And I wonder what your thoughts are on limiting committee Chairmen. How do we solve is this going to be a problem? You have been the Chairman of a committee where you have periodic, required changes of the Chairman. Do you think this is going to be a problem, and if it is, what can we do to solve it?
Mr. MCCURDY. Well, I have been the committee Chair where the Speaker himself has the total prerogative to appoint the committee Chair, and I actually support that, and it may shock some people, considering how I was rotated off that committee. But the fact of the matter is, I think there has to be some accountability. There shouldn't be just one committee in the Congress, a select committee; it should be all committees, because I think that is the only way you hold both the committees and the leadership—more importantly the leadership-accountable.
You know, people in the Congress, either we don't have enough business experience or we don't keep up with the times, but in business today total quality management means team effort. We don't have team efforts here. We have a lot of different little squads out there in power bases, but we don't operate as a team. And I think by enabling the leadership to be able to work with particular Chairs, I think they could accomplish a great deal more.
Now, in reference to your-to your point on staff, when I chaired the Intelligence Committee, we cut our operating budget by 12 percent. We have one of the smallest staffs of any of the committees in Congress, maybe the smallest staff in the Congress, and yet they are all professionals and they have a very serious and weighty responsibility, but they accomplish it because they are professionals. I don't think we have to have-part of the reason we have so many staff is that we are trying to do so many different things, and then subcommittee Chairmen get additional people because of the demands on our time.
I actually believe, by rotating, we could reduce staff as well.
Term limits, on the other hand, outside term limits I think will invest too much power in the staff. I think that is a serious challenge facing us. That is why I think we do it internally as opposed to externally. And I think the committee Chair should be able to appoint staff and to hire and fire; and some committees and I think Appropriations is one of those the subcommittee Chairs don't have an opportunity to hire their own staff. They have designees, but the staff is hired through a committee, and it is like some secret society is trying to determine how that hiring process is brought about.
Now, as you know, I have rankled enough and ruffled enough feathers in my tenure, especially in the Appropriations arena, but the fact of the matter is we ought to bring some transparency to the operations around this place.
Ms. DUNN. Could I have a quick followup?
Mr. DREIER. Please.
Ms. DUNN. What about term limits for staff?
Mr. MCCURDY. Well, I think then we are getting hung up on procedure. If you are going back to quality management principles, what you do staff should not again, if the Chairs have the opportunity to hire and fire, then that in effect is a term limit; and if you have staff who thinks they are just going to outlast the Chairs, as a lot of the bureaucrats do in this government-downtown they expect to outlast us up here on the Hill and outlast most service secretaries or secretaries, and they do outlast them-why in the world would they want to cooperate?
We have we are ossified. We have arteriosclerosis when it comes to the structure in this town, both in regard to staff and the committee structure itself. We need to have more flexibility. Because, interestingly enough, take commemoratives as an example. I am not sure anyone up here today would run around saying this is the most important types of legislation we could ever have; and yet you go to the committee of jurisdiction and they fight you as if you are attacking motherhood because this is an issue of jurisdiction. They had a subcommittee that dealt with that, and that meant staff, that meant positions of authority.
We get hung up on-it is like wearing ribbons on how much jurisdiction you have and how many campaign medals you have. It is ridiculous. We need to be relevant to the lives of people. And I would implore each of you as you do your duty-and I know it is hard, because we don't have enough time to read, but there is a great book called Quality or Else. It is about total quality management and applying it to government as well. We need to brush up a little bit on quality in this country.
Mr. DREIER. Thank you very much, Ms. Dunn.
Mr. McCurdy, your testimony was very helpful.
Let me, just to announce a couple of housekeeping things here. We are trying to host 50 witnesses today, so we are trying to stick by testimony of 5 minutes and then we are each asking a question or two.
So let me go to proceed with Mr. Goss and announce that we are going to proceed with, first, Mr. Goss, and then Mrs. Schroeder and Mr. Barrett, if you would come up and take Mr. McCurdy's place,
and then Mr. Upton and Mr. Shays with several Members who are joining him, Mr. Swett, Mr. Dickey, Mr. Mann, Mr. Bartlett.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. PORTER GOSS, A U.S.
Mr. Goss. Thank you, Mr. Vice Chairman and Mr. Chairman; thank you for the opportunity to be here. I will certainly comply with your rules, I think they make eminent sense, and I wish we applied them more often in other committees.
I will ask that my written testimony be received-included in the record; I will not read it. I will try to make four quick points.
Two come from what I call a unique personal perspective; one has to do with the Ethics Committee, the House Ethics Committee-not the other body, I want to make that clear. I happen to believe that if the Ethics Committee in the House can operate independently, if it can operate without partisanship, and if it can operate under capable leadership, it can do an excellent job and serve this institution well; and I think that point has been proven in the past and will be able to be proven again.
There has been a hue and cry about let's get former Members, outsiders, all kinds of other servants on this committee. I need to point out that one of the other purposes in the committee and in the House is to provide Members guidance and advice before the mess, not after the mess, and that generally means coming from the colleagues, working with staff, interpreting the rules; and I hope it is a point that is not overlooked, and I will be glad to respond.
The second area I want to talk about especially is an area that has bothered me since I have been here, and before I came here, and that is that there are not universal rules of application about the treatment of classified information. It is apparently true that some Members feel that you are authorized to release classified information on your own justification by being a Member of Congress. I do not believe that all Members understand the harmful consequences that can come from that, and I think that is an area that we have ongoing difficulty with and we need to clean up.
These are small points, but I think they are valid and I think they will serve us well. I would hate to think of the United States of America being in a position of not being able to get necessary information because we have destroyed sources, because somebody had slipped without understanding that sources are often as important as the information and sometimes more important than the information itself.
The other two areas I briefly want to talk about are compilations of views about the operations of Congress, since I have been a Member that I have picked up and I sort of bring them forward in the Representative spirit-and they fall into two categories. Many of them have been addressed by other Members already, and I am sure will be picked up by other Members as we go along, and they are written, so I will not belabor them.
The two general areas I want to point out, however, are basically the idea of restoring Congress as an institution that is dedicated to
public service rather than self-service. That is a perception that we can deal with.
In my remarks, I have cited three major problem areas, and I have described 15 solutions areas. That is a three-to-one ratio of solutions to problems; I think that is refreshing. You may not agree with all the solutions or all the problems, but at least we have the balance on the right side.
The second area I believe is important to focus on is the area that makes Congress more responsive, less costly, less wasteful. That is a broad category. I believe in that area I have given you two problems and eight solutions. That is a four-to-one ratio, and again I think that is the kind of thing we need to be doing.
I could go on and on and on, as we all could. It is like being in a candy shop here, which one to pick and which one to choose. I will let my written remarks speak for themselves, wish you God's speed in your work and tell Senator Boren that I like his approach for a comprehensive, on-time, this-year piece of reform-piece of reform legislation, take it or leave it, up or down.
[The statement of Mr. Goss is printed in the Appendix.]
Mr. DREIER. Thank you very much, Mr. Goss. That is very helpful. We are pleased to have your testimony. I am honored to be able to sit next to you on the Rules Committee, and I completely agree with the goal of bringing about a comprehensive package.
You mentioned problems versus solutions, and I am reminded of one of my professors out at Claremont who was challenged with trying to put together some kind of solution to all the problems, sort of an E=MC2 for all of our political problems and he came up with S=2P, solution equals two problems; so that is one of the challenges that we will face here.
I appreciate your testimony very much, and it is an honor to serve with you.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. PATRICIA SCHROEDER, A U.S.
Mrs. SCHROEDER. Thank you very much, Mr. Dreier. I really appreciate the committee's time.
Let me first of all just remark about Mr. McCurdy's statement about trying to get the Congress under the laws that we passed for everyone else. The Women's Caucus has the General Accounting Office looking at the process we are now under to see how it can be strengthened, and as soon as we get that, we would like to share that with you.
But the real reason I am here today is because I am an unabashed advocate for children, and I must say, at least on the House side, I think we have done a very poor job of elevating children's issues. There are no subcommittees with children in the title. When you look on the Senate side, at least we do have Senator Dodd's committee and so forth. If you look at the 1991 bipartisan Commission on Children that President Bush appointed and Jay Rockefeller chaired, one of the main things they pointed out was this body needed a Joint Commission on Children with the House and Senate, but they were falling through the cracks.
When we look at what has happened to the status of childrenwhether you look at their poverty rate, which has doubled in 20 years, the suicide rate, the infant mortality, whatever-we know why. Children don't have political action committees, they don't have any real powerful interest groups representing them, and they don't even vote. And so, as a consequence, we really tend to love them to death until we get through the budget door, and it is the last thing we think about or the first thing dropped.
So what I have been trying to do and I will get more details to you later I chair the select committee and it has been interesting, as we have talked about the select committee, that many people have said, I would vote against a select committee because if we have anything on children it ought to be real. And as I look at how we make this real, one of the things I would propose is in four of our major committees that have the most jurisdiction over children, at least one of their subcommittees be dealing with children, at least one. And, of course, those four committees would be Education and Labor, Banking, Agriculture, and Ways and Means, so that there is a forum that has that in the title.
And then I think the concept of a Joint Committee with the Senate is a very interesting one, but instead of hiring a lot of staff, try using associate staff from those subcommittees of the mainstream committees that have the standing jurisdiction, so that you coordinate much more.
Now, I would also put Aging together. I would do I would have the Joint Committee be Children, Family and Aging, because I don't want to pit generations against each other, but I do think we know that the elderly have done a whole lot better than children when you look at the resources, and yet maybe somehow we can bring them together as a bridge and solve some of the problems at both ends, plus they are the most vulnerable on each end in our society.
So I would like to be able to present this in finer detail later. I think it may be a way that really brings up that awareness.
And just one example of how things get left out: We on the select committee had a forum with the family law bar. They said one of the main problems with child support enforcement was people getting bankruptcy to avoid it. Now, you know when Judiciary does a bankruptcy reform hearing, you know that women who lost their child support through bankruptcy are not coming to testify. It is major corporations, representatives of consumer groups, and that never gets thought of. So it is very important to have a forum where those things are thought of. And then we can relate to the many standing committees, the 13 that have jurisdiction over children, to hopefully move those forward and increase their standing. Mr. DREIER. Thank you very much, Mrs. Schroeder. That is very helpful, and I congratulate you in light of the outcome of select committees for still standing up for children and wanting to ensure that there will be attention focused on it here with the standing committees, which, frankly, is the goal that many of us, who took the position that we did on select committees, have had all along. Mrs. SCHROEDER. I agree totally.
Mr. DREIER. I thank you very much for your testimony and don't have any other colleagues here who would like to ask questions,