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and as important for ourselves is the way that we do business.
Mr. DREIER. Thank you very much, Mr. Quinn.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. MARTIN T. MEEHAN, A U.S. REPRE
SENTATIVE FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
Mr. MEEHAN. Mr. Chairman and Members of the committee, I want to thank you for providing me with the opportunity to share my views and the need for exacting comprehensive congressional reform legislation.
President Clinton ran successfully on a platform that promised economic revitalization and pledged to end gridlock in government. I believe his message was a clarion call to all of us in Congress. The American taxpayer is demanding change, and we must respond. Congressional reform is crucial if we are going to return our government to its rightful owners, the American people.
The Democrats have demonstrated leadership, along with the freshman class, and have taken the first step towards congressional reform by limiting subcommittees on major committees to six subcommittees and nonmajor committees to five. This will bring modest change and help streamline the Congress, reduce conflicting pressures on Members' time, downsize the bureaucracy in the House of Representatives and save taxpayers' money.
Last week the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to terminate the House Select Committee on Narcotics. As a former prosecutor, I was on the front line of the drug war, can appreciate the work of the Select Committee on Narcotics. My vote to terminate this select committee is only a reflection of my desire to trim congressional spending and not a referendum on the significance of the drug issue or the quality of the select committee's work.
I believe we must work within the standing committee system and enhance their effectiveness to deal with these vitally important issues. We must capitalize on our success and push further for reforms.
As Members of the Congress, we have unique opportunities to seize the momentum and to work with President Clinton to end governmental gridlock. But we can't keep the status quo with business-as-usual attitudes and expect to successfully meet the challenges above.
I believe we must enact reforms like a line-item veto for the President. It is a classic example of the inefficiency and a big reason why I believe Americans are angry. We must have—now that we have a Democrat in the White House who is committed to signing a strong campaign finance reform bill, I think it is imperative that the legislative branch move swiftly to enact a comprehensive bill that strengthens the provisions of the Senate version that was vetoed last year.
President Clinton supports limiting individual political action committee contributions, for example, to a thousand dollars for a Federal candidate. This is the first step towards eliminating special interest control over government, and I endorse his proposal. I am
proud to say that I did not accept PAC contributions during my campaign, so I know that campaigns and candidates can finance their elections without PAC money.
To encourage people to run, I believe we ought to enact voluntary spending caps for congressional raises. The optional spending limit under the Senate version was $600,000 for candidates within a 2-year election cycle with no more than 500,000 that could be spent after the primary until the general election.
I believe that we need reforms in terms of making matching funds available; I believe we need reforms in terms of providing vouchers for radio and television advertising. The creative use of television media during the Presidential campaign demonstrated that the media can be utilized as an educational resource to encourage voter participation.
I also believe we have to establish a threshold for accepting outof-district and out-of-state contributions. For instance, I would propose no more than 50 percent of a candidate's money come from inside the district, and no more than 80 percent contributions coming from outside a candidate's home State.
I think we have to look at the issue of term limits, both the committee chairmanships and for Members of Congress. I think we need to return to the philosophy of our forefathers who considered politics a short-term sacrifice.
In cleaning up our own House, I think we need to ensure accountability in all of our actions, particularly those in dealing with your compensation. I think we must respect the intent of the 27th Amendment that States that no law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and the Representatives, shall take effect until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.
I believe these reforms will go a long way toward working to make the reforms that will enable us to have credibility with the American people.
I look forward to working in the Congress to help institute some of these changes, and I would like to submit a more detailed testimony. Thank you.
Mr. DREIER. Without objection, we look forward to having it for the record, Mr. Meehan. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. ROSCOE G. BARTLETT, A U.S.
REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE STATE OF MARYLAND
Mr. DREIER. Let me just say, Mr. Crapo and Mr. McHale, if you would like to come up and sit at the able, we would like to have you.
Mr. BARTLETT. I don't know if you noticed, but in a recent, I think perhaps the last, Reader's Digest there was a little graphic, a one-page graphic essay on the trustworthiness, the honesty, and esteem in which various institutions were held by the American people. There were about five or six of them there. Congress rated 19 percent. That was the lowest. We were lower even than lawyers. They didn't rate their used car salesmen and the Mafia, perhaps to
avoid further embarrassing Congress. I think that this is eloquent testimony to the need for congressional reform.
The average American sees "Honorable Congressman" as a contradiction in terms. And perhaps we should stop—we should ask people to stop addressing us as "Honorable" until we have earned that right.
Let me just mention one area and you have heard, and I have sat here and listened to a number of very excellent suggestions for reforming the Congress. Let me just mention one area that I think must be crystal-clear to Americans as they watch us on C-SPAN. The House is not a deliberative body.
It is clear that Members come there knowing, frequently, little of what they are to vote on. They come there instructed as to how they are to vote. The House is seldom in order, usually in disorder, and it is very obvious to those watching on C-SPAN that the people come there with their minds made up.
The thinnest sheet of paper has two sides, and I think no matter what we think the appeal of a party bill is that we need to come to the House willing thoughtfully to listen to what as we now jokingly refer to as “debate."
And I—you know, I taught for 23 years, and I will tell you that I would absolutely refuse to continue addressing an audience that was one-tenth as boisterous or out of order as the House usually is when someone is addressing the House. I think this is very obvious to the American people, and I think they would appreciate an honest debate so that they could see the issues, and make up their minds along with the Congress as to why we vote the way we vote.
I am really appreciative of this bipartisan effort. I think that the one thing that will do most, if we can enact only one thing this year, perhaps it would be to reform the Congress so that we would be more credible to the American people.
Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. MICHAEL D. CRAPO, A U.S.
REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE STATE OF IDAHO Mr. CRAPO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As a Member of the freshman class of 1993 and a newcomer to Congress, I appreciate this opportunity to represent my views in this comprehensive system of hearings for proposals to reform Congress. It is my fervent hope, and I believe the hope of millions of Americans who have become disillusioned by the conduct of Congress and by their interpretation of the integrity of this institution that bipartisan, bicameral reform will come.
One of the primary reasons I ran for this office was to bring change. I believe that that was also one of the primary reasons that 110 other freshmen ran for and were elected to these offices. I think you will hear the freshmen, whether they be Republican or Democrat, standing tall and firmly for change of Congress. It is a fresh voice that I think needs to be heard.
I believe these feelings are as much a result of public opinion as simply the election of these Members. Perhaps part of the problem
was brought home to me last week and I would like to share it with you. I received a letter from a concerned mother in my district whose son had written a poem about Congress as a part of a school assignment. This young man is a 16-year-old Eagle Scout, a top student in his school, a man who—she says in her letter, a young man who is patriotic and not a cynical young man. Yet the last phrase of his poem reads: "Life to them is a game of cards. They throw away what they can't use, the pride of the American people. They keep the rest for their full House, the king of money, the joker of power.'
Right or wrong, and I think in many ways right, that is the feeling that many American people have about the way our Congress now operates, that the pride of the American people in this institution can no longer be justified.
Many of the more experienced colleagues I have met here in Washington have told me that there have been countless committees that have been created to study Congress and to see if there are ways to fix it. I have heard some disillusionment about whether this committee will make a difference. And the first thing that I would like to say to you is that you must make a difference.
I believe that the mood of the American public is there, I believe that the mood is there in Congress if we can get some momentum, and I believe that this committee has a stellar opportunity to create the momentum for change if it will stand up and boldly say what needs to be done and make those recommendations that need to be made so that Congress can have a blueprint from which to operate.
I just want to go through very quickly a series of things that I would hope you would consider. Some of them I know have been said often; perhaps some of them are new.
Obviously, a balanced budgeted amendment is needed, a lineitem veto; and I am sure that you have heard of those. I think that all mandatory spending programs should be placed on equal footing with annually appropriated discretionary programs. We need to have periodic reauthorization for all mandatory programs.
The people in my district were alarmed this year to find out that 60 to 10 percent of our budget is on automatic pilot. That is not how to run a government. We need roll call votes on all taxing and spending measures. There needs to be accountability in this congress. We need to eliminate the process of non-germane amendments in either House, whether it is through rule or through suspension of rules, to make sure that legislation is specific to one topic.
Congress must be required to adhere to the same laws that it applies to the rest of the country.
We need to reduce the number of committees, and I know from what I have seen of the hearings so far you have heard a lot about that, and I add my voice to those who say that we must reduce the number of committees and the number of committee staff.
But while we are doing that, we also need to inject fairness into the system. The ratios on committees need to reflect the ratios of the party representation in Congress. And the ratios of staff on the committees need to represent that same fair ratio. The American people need to know that when they have a balance in Congress, that balance is honored on committees and honored on committee staff, and the allocation of the resources of Congress.
We also need to ban all proxy voting
There is one final thing that I would like to address. We need to stop the use, in the House at least, of the operation of restrictive rules. I have served in the Idaho State legislature for 8 years before coming here, and never can I recall did we change the rules.
Now, I realize that a large body such as the House of Representatives, with 435 Members, needs to have some ways to create efficiency. But in looking back over the record, I have found that since 1977 and 1978, restrictive rules were used only 15 percent of the time. The rest of the time there was full, open debate and resolution issues were resolved. And as I understand it from those who were here in those days, you were able to work out through the amending process, from both sides of the aisle, solutions to bills and develop consensus on many occasions. Now, as was said by the previous speaker, we come in with the decisions made and the debate limited. Today, or in the last Congress, 66 percent of the rules were restrictive rules. We have gone from 15 percent to 66 percent, and I might add that since being here as a freshman Member of Congress, I have yet to have the opportunity to operate under rules in the House. We need to have less operation by restrictive rules that prohibit the opportunity to amend and address and develop consensus. Again, I thank you for your opportunity to present these materials to you and I would be glad to answer any questions if there are any.
Mr. DREIER. Thank you very much, Mr. Crapo.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. PAUL MCHALE, A U.S. REPRESENTA
TIVE FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. McHALE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for inviting me to speak before this distinguished Joint Committee. My comments in the next few minutes will draw extensively on my 30 days' experience in the U.S. House of Representatives and should be weighted accordingly.
Let me begin with a quote from David Broder: "A pattern of selfinterest prevailing over collective responsibility is what is wrong with Congress. It is the end product of a political system that in almost every way is exalted, individual self-aggrandizement over party and institutional responsibility,” end of quote.
We should act promptly to enact the mandate voiced by the people last November. Many of the new Members of Congress were elected specifically because our constituents demanded reform. That was certainly a message that I heard loudly and clearly throughout the course of my 1-year campaign, the office that I am now privileged to hold. The comprehensive agenda now under thoughtful consideration by this committee provides a once-in-ageneration opportunity to carefully restructure the Congress.
I have heard skepticism with regard to your mission. I have heard other Members talk about previous committees that attempt