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We are old, we are new, we are extraordinarily concerned about the fact we have a practice that has gone on regretfully for a number of years and that has become worse not better, and that is the fact Congress too often exempts itself from laws it requires the executive branch and private sector to live by.

We know there is an argument of separation of powers. We know there is an argument of legislative privilege. We know, as well, Mr. Chairman, that Members must be free to say what they need to say on the Floor without fear of suits. These are all arguments.

But there is also the argument of checks and balances. We are united in our view that Congress will write better laws when it has to live by the laws it requires others in the private sector and executive branch to live by. There is much we could say.

I would like to yield to my colleague, Mr. Swett, and then others here would like to make comments.

[The statement of Mr. Shays is printed in the Appendix.]


FROM THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE Mr. SWETT. Thank you very much, Congressman Shays. Chris has said, and he and I have worked diligently on this issue for many, many hours and have committed a sizable amount of our attitude and efforts to seeing this successfully passed.

First, I would like to express my thanks, though, to the committee for giving us the opportunity to testify before you on a matter we believe reaches to the heart of the committee's charge. We are here today on a bipartisan basis, as you can see, and certainly as the list of sponsors and cosponsors to this bill would indicate. We wanted to be respected by the American people because each of us cares deeply about this institution.

We, like you, are deeply troubled by the polls and all the pundits which tell us that the Congress is not held in that high regard. We believe our proposal to be a modest but important one. It addresses, we think, a substantive issue, but we also believe it has wider ramifications for the larger struggle in which we are all collectively engaged: Returning Congress to a place of high esteem in the minds of our constituents, and probably more fundamentally stated, we need to reconstruct a bridge of trust between the American public and their elected officials.

Substantively, we believe congressional employees deserve the enjoyment of the full benefits and protections that we mandate for employees in the private sector. We think the same standards Congress has mandated for private businesses and the executive branch in laws like the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act should apply to Congress as well. We think there is a simple issue of equity and fairness here.

Whatever the rationale, however, and however reasonable the explanation, it is wrong for us to pass laws which would otherwise apply to a Congress and then—which would otherwise apply to Congress and then exempt ourselves in whole or in part from their operation.

It is also true that those who wish to tear down this institution will continue to seize on these exemptions as ammunition until we





end them. These exemptions are the delight of Congress-bashers everywhere, exploited to put all of those who serve here in the worst possible light. Preserving these exemptions will hurt our efforts to restore the reputation of this institution. Quite frankly, they are not worth it.

Lastly, I have a personal comment to make. I am a second term Member of this body. I am an architect by training; prior to coming to Congress in January 1991, an alternative energy developer by vocation. In these earlier incarnations I worked with and labored under a wide gamut of Federal regulations. That experience leads me to believe we will be better served if as legislators our own institution is required to submit to the laws it passes.

We are all familiar with Samuel Johnson's famous comment, "the prospect of imminent hanging never fails to concentrate the mind.” Similarly, we will pass better laws if we know we will be living and working under them. I hope the committee will address this important issue in its recommendations.

Thank you for the time.


FROM THE STATE OF OHIO Mr. MANN. Good morning. I am David Mann, a freshman Member of Congress from Cincinnati. I am here because of my daughter who is 23 years old, has worn a hearing aid since she was 11 months old. She has a 10 decibel hearing loss. If she had a 90 decibel loss, she would hear nothing.

This summer she asked if the Americans with Disabilities legislation, which became effective at that time, applied to Congress. I said, "Debbie, I don't know." I did an inquiry, and I said the rules apply.

She said, “Well, if I apply for a job on the Hill, and am rejected because of my hearing loss, do I have a remedy?” I said yes.

She said, "Well, who judges my case?” I said, “the Members of Congress.” And she is a fairly bright girl. She said, “You mean the Members of Congress judge their colleagues?" I said yes.

She said, “What if I am not happy with the result?”'
"That is the end of your remedy.
“You mean I can't go to court?"
“You mean I can't recover damages?"
“You mean I can't recover attorneys' fees?”
She said, "That's not fair."
I said, "You are right."

I pledged when I came here one of the first things I would work on is changing the congressional practice of exemption from a whole set of rules. It is not fair. It is not perceived to be fair.

I want my colleagues to be called into judicial question if they fail to treat my daughter properly. I urge this committee to look very carefully at whether we should not change our practices and should not embrace the Congressional Accountability Act.

Thank you very much.

[The statement of Mr. Mann is printed in the Appendix.] STATEMENT OF THE HON. JAY DICKEY, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE

FROM THE STATE OF ARKANSAS Mr. DICKEY. I am Jay Dickey from Arkansas. I wanted to mention something from what Tom Barrett said before I get into the meat of what I am here for.

Wal-Mart, Senator, that you are familiar with in Bentonville, AR has a plan got a program about taking gifts from manufacturers' rep's that would be awfully good in our government. I am thinking also that as we learn from business, we can learn from them in other areas, too.

The area I am concerned about is the regulations we go through in business. I am a novice to politics. I am a novice to government operations.

But I am not a novice to business. I have been under the scrutiny of regulators. In fact, I have been inspected seven times during this campaign I was in recently; and I get this idea that if we do not bring these laws to the Members of Congress, they will never understand what it is like to be on your heels, to be running, dodging, bothering, weaving, talking to folks who don't even know what they are talking about.

They just have a job. They come down. Sometimes they are history majors or masters in physics or whatever. They are coming down regulating these businesses.

My point today is that if we could get Congress to have these regulations come down on them, on us, let's put it that way, that we would then know what an onerous burden it is.

We would come face to face in a straight confrontation with the regulators, and then the costs of what is going on out there will be brought to us in a very real way.

I think if that happens, we will instruct ourselves, which is absolutely necessary. The voters are fed up. They are fed up with the fact that we are some type of royalty up here and that we can pass laws and mandate things and say you all do right because we say this is right and then they do not understand why it is that they have to do the things that we don't have to do.

So I want to emphasize that from my experience.
Thank you very much for your time, Senator.
Mr. SHAYS. Senator, if I may add one thing?

All of us are working for passage of the Congressional Accountability Act. There are now 150 cosponsors in the House. We sincerely request in the process of your deliberation that you look at this legislation and see if we can have a process that does, in fact, put us under all the laws in an effective way.

Chairman BOREN. I thank you all very much for your testimony. I am not going to ask questions because I happen to agree with you.

I think that the point you made is a very important one. I don't know how often we hear from our constituents back home that comment if you people had to live under the laws that you pass, you would be wiser and more careful in what you were doing.

Again, I think also the perception that not only in terms of the regulatory burdens like those we pass on small business, but also fairness to individuals, as Mr. Mann said, that we are sometimes very, very arbitrary in the way we conduct ourselves as compared with others.


Mr. SWETT. If I may take a small moment, a good example I would like to share has to do not only with the fairness issue, but we seem to have cultivated in this country's regulatory environment where the government almost has an arrogance about it in its attitude towards the peoples' ability to be responsible for their own actions. I think a great gulf has occurred between people in government and come about because of this arrogance.

This certainly forces us to look at how we possibly might bridge that gap or how we might shorten that gulf. I think that certainly legislation of this type would go a long way to accomplishing that.

Mr. SHAYS. I second that.

Chairman BOREN. What we really are dealing with fundamentally in the work of this committee is to restore and repair that fragile fabric of trust that exists and should exist between the people and their government and the sense that it is their own government.

I think nothing hurts me more than to sense the alienation that people feel from their government, from their Congress, that should belong to them and should be viewed by them as ours, our voice, our chance to have a part in the process of making law and policy for the country. I think so often they feel there is a huge gap there, that it doesn't belong to them anywhere.

The way we finance campaigns makes them wonder if they count. The way we do business or don't do business up here, the way it is hard to even find out who can be held accountable when a decision is made; and certainly not applying the rules and regulations that we impose upon them upon ourselves. It is as if there is a privileged segment of society here that is treating itself differently than others.

We are not meant to be rulers. We are meant to be public servants. I think all of these things contribute to that feeling that that kind of relationship has broken down.

You know, it does something—it does terrible damage to the whole society if that relationship of trust and of participation between people in government breaks down.

So I think you are all talking about something that is very, very important. I am sorry more of our colleagues are not sure.

I assure you it is not a lack of interest and that the proposal you made, we heard from some of our colleagues on the Senate side as well, this theme Senator Grassley particularly emphasized this point in his testimony.

We will do our best to take action and we have, as you can see by both the chairing and the membership of this committee and, in fact, we don't even sitthe House Members together, the Senators together, Democrats, Republicans together, we are not concerned with who is a freshman, who is a senior Member, anything else. This is something we must all do together.

We have to break down again some of the polarization of our institution and be open-minded and work together as a team to get this down. I appreciate the comments you all made.

Thank you very much.
I think Mr. Upton is our last witness from the State of Michigan.

Congressman Upton, we appreciate your coming and your willingness to come back to us with as many witnesses as I am toldwe have over 50 today. To me, that is good news. It might mean the hearing will go a little longer. It is good news.

What it says is the membership of this institution is truly interested in bringing about changes that need to be made. To me, that is an optimistic report.

We appreciate your patience and we would welcome your testimony.

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FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN Mr. UPTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to be here this morning.

I apologize for stepping out of turn. We had a full committee markup. I was able to cast my vote without proxies, which is something you probably ought to consider, as well.

I enjoyed much of the testimony that I have heard this morning, both here as well as watching it in my office this morning on SPAN. I do envy the position that you are in.

As I ran for Congress initially back in 1986, this is my fourth term, there are many congressional reforms that we need. Your committee this morning and the next couple of months, in fact, will provide a vehicle to make much-needed changes. I thought I might just comment on a couple of things I heard earlier this morning.

One, we do need major revision as we look at commemoratives. As I talk and listen to many Members, that takes so much time. We need a commission to do that.

We don't need 440 Members now in the House having that ability which takes so much time to get 221 cosponsors. In addition, the testimony I just heard this morning, I am not actually one of the 150 cosponsors in the House trying to put the House and Senate under the same rules we passed because of one exception, that being the Privacy Act.

I happen to believe as we look to shore up the trust of our constituents, that their confidences that are so often placed in their leaders need to remain in confidence and not be open to any challenge by any individual or press or media person outside. For that reason, I am not a cosponsor of that, although I do, of course, support the OSHA and certainly the labor laws we pass on others.

The main point I wanted to talk a little bit about this morning was franking reform. When I first came to Congress, Members of Congress were able to send—at least House Members, were able to send as many as six newsletters each year. Way too many.

That is one every other month. It is now I believe at three per year. That times 270,000 households, that is a lot of mail. I think that that can be reduced to 142 a year or three per 2-year term. I think that that is very valuable.

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