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ed to accomplish the purpose which I hope you achieve. Very few matters that we as an institution consider during the course of this session will rival the ultimate importance of our job. Whatever we achieve in terms of substance must be as a result of an equitable process, and unless the American people democratically have faith in that process, no matter how wise, we will not be able to justify the substance that emanates from that process.
Toward the accomplishment of that goal, I would like to express the following thoughts: First, a genuine sense of democratic responsibility shared by those who govern as well as the governed, requires Congress to live under the same laws and statutes which were enacted to guide the behavior of all other American citizens. I have been watching this proceeding on C-SPAN and I know that you have heard that message dozens of times today. I would simply echo the comments that have been previously voiced to you. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 349, the Congressional Responsibility Act, sponsored by two of the most distinguished bipartisan Members of the Congress, Dick Swett and Congressman Shays from Connecticut. This legislation will make Congress accountable under the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, going back to the 1930s, and the Freedom of Information Act, to name but a few.
Second, a serious reform should also entail a comprehensive review of current standing committees, subcommittees and their staffs, again, a message I know that you have heard repeatedly throughout the course of the day. At a time when we are hastilyand I would insert parenthetically, I believe "unwisely," eliminating the Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families—many standing committees are continuing to operate with excessive staffs and unnecessary subcommittees.
I think really the select committees have become a target of opportunity because of our failure to routinely and periodically reexamine the continuing utility of the standing committees and subcommittees. I happen to think that if our entire structure were subject to the same scrutiny during this past week that the select committees have experienced, that frankly the select committees would not be at the top of anyone's list in terms of diminishing the size of Congress.
You are talking to a-listening to a Democrat who plans to vote for the Balanced Budget Amendment. I will vote for the line-item veto. There are numerous standing subcommittees and several standing committees where I think consolidation would make sense, and I urge you—I listened this morning as Mr. Dreier posed a number of questions to our colleague, David Price, on this very issue. I would hope that you would look at that aspect of reform as part of your continuing mission.
Many opportunities and services available to Members of Congress and their staffs have been abused. Foreign travel must come under much greater review and scrutiny. But for some Members, it is simply too easy to travel to foreign countries at taxpayers' expense. In addition, services provided to Members of Congress should not be made available at a reduced rate, but rather at fair market value.
Finally, I wish to lend my enthusiastic support to President Clinton's proposed ban on lobbying by former Members for a period of 5 years. Today's corporate constituent should not be tomorrow's employer.
I am deeply honored, and I guess this is somewhat in contrast to a number of the comments that you have heard today—and I want to stress the words that I am about to voice—I am deeply honored to serve as a Member in the most distinguished legislative body yet conceived and shaped by the enduring democratic values of western civilization. The Congress is a great institution, reflecting the best of constitutional democracy, but possessing the capacity for even greater achievement.
An article in today's issue of Roll Call indicates that fully 59 percent of the American people disapprove of our collective performance in office. The reforms which I have previously described would go a long way toward addressing those concerns.
I was proud the day that I entered Congress. I hope to have an even greater pride in the institution and its capacity for effective democratic government when the time comes for me to leave.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DREIER. Thank you very much, Mr. McHale. It was very enlightening testimony and we appreciate it very much.
I would like to ask both of you two questions. First we have a new Republican and a new Democrat sitting here, and we are going to be faced with the challenge of trying to consider the reduction in the number of committees in the Congress, and I don't know the committees that you all serve on, but I would like to ask if either or both of you would be willing to give up some of the committees or subcommittees on which you serve if we are to make those kinds of cuts.
Mr. CRAPO. Let me go first.
I serve on only one committee. It is the Energy and Commerce Committee, so I would like to have at least one.
Mr. DREIER. There are some Members, Mike, who would like to have you give up the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Mr. CRAPO. I understand that very much, Mr. Chairman, but I think I would say that I serve on two subcommittees. If it is necessary to serve on only one, I would do it. And I think that in addressing these issues, we have to put our partisanship aside and we have to put our personal interest aside, because although there has been much said about Congress and the disrepute into which it has fallen, I think the comments that we have just heard about the kind of institution Congress is, and I think should be in the minds of the American people, are true. If we will put aside those personal interests, I would be glad to sacrifice committees, subcommittees, staff, whatever is necessary on the committee level to make sure that we address these issues.
Mr. DREIER. Paul.
Mr. McHALE. The answer to your question is yes, I would. I belong to two committees, the Armed Services Committee, Science, Space And Technology and at the present time four subcommittees. My view is that membership on a committee or a subcommittee should be more than a line on the letterhead. In reality-I can give you a perfect example.
Yesterday I was participating in a subcommittee hearing of Science, Space and Technology. I had at least two or three other meetings simultaneously scheduled. It turned out that the testimony before that subcommittee hearing became directly relevant to an economic enterprise in my congressional district. I could not and should not have left that subcommittee meeting, and so I didn't.
As a result of that, I missed at least two or three other meetings where literally I wish I could have attended but it was physically impossible to do so. In my opinion, we would be better served as a deliberative legislative body if we were limited to one major committee, two at the most, and perhaps one subcommittee under each major committee, and I for one, despite the fact that I would hate to give up the subject matter jurisdiction in order to accommodate the reality of conflicting schedules, would be willing to cut back on my committee participation so that I could more effectively serve on a limited number of committees.
Chairman HAMILTON. Gentlemen, I want to join Mr. Dreier in thanking you for your testimony. One of the things that has impressed me today, we have quite a string of newer members, is how much you folks have learned in a very short time, and you have got a lot of insights into the institution and as I have indicated to others, a perspective which we very much need on this Joint Committee on Organization, so I thank you for your testimony and I hope that your appearance here will not cease your interest in our work, that you will stay in touch with us as the weeks go by here and as we begin to shape recommendations. I think you can contribute importantly to that.
Mr. CRAPO. Thank you. Could I just make one other comment? Chairman HAMILTON. Surely.
Mr. CRAPO. Could I just ask that–I don't know if it has happened before, but you have sitting before you now a freshman Republican and a freshman Democrat, and I would hope that that would stand as a symbol to this committee to leave the partisanship aside and do what this committee needs to do for the country,
Mr. McHALE. I think that is the united voice of the entire freshmen class.
Chairman HAMILTON. We thank you.
Mr. DREIER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me just say, gentlemen, that I think some other people might have some questions here. I was going to follow up with my second question for Paul, and I wanted to say that as you work in an united way to try and deal with these issues, I hope that you will be able to go to your respective classes, freshmen and—I mean Republican and Democrat, and we have an idea now of what is going to come from this committee.
There have been a litany of items that have been mentioned and not all of them will be there, but we do have an idea of what we will do, but what chance do you think there is that we will be able to get a very large number of the 63 Democrats and the 47 Republicans to join with us in the final vote on this?
Mr. McHALE. I think there is a high probability of it. I have sensed among the new Members a different attitude toward the political process when compared to some of our predecessors. For instance, I can tell you that at least on the Democratic side of the aisle, an issue that commands overwhelming support is campaign finance reform.
I am not sure that all of the senior Members share that perspective, but among the newly elected Members, those who have spent the last year concentrating far too little time on public policy and far too much time raising money, a process that most of us find distasteful at best, there is a very strong momentum, completely nonpartisan in nature, toward meaningful campaign finance reform.
And so I think if we approach this issue with responsible rhetoric, if we avoid pointing fingers and instead look toward the future of this institution, the overwhelming majority of Democrats, newly elected Democrats will be extremely supportive.
Mr. DREIER. Mike.
Mr. CRAPO. I would just add to that that one of the questions, in fact, probably one of the questions foremost in my mind after I was elected was the one you just posed. What would be the makeup of this new group of freshmen that I was reading about. And I would say to you that I was delighted to find out, as I got together with my Republican counterparts in the freshmen class, to find out the remarkable, remarkable consensus among them about the need for reform of Congress and, again, I think, like you said, whatever the recommendations that come out, I think-I am hoping that they will be very meaningful recommendations. Some that will require sacrifice, not only on our part, but which may end up calling on the American people to also participate in the sacrifices necessary to restore the strength and integrity to our government that is needed, and I will tell you that I think there will be strong consensus among the freshmen Republicans for that kind of reform.
Mr. DREIER. Thank you very much. Mr. Spratt.
Mr. SPRATT. Thank you both for your testimony. I have no questions.
Mr. DREIER. Ms. Dunn, one freshman Member who serves on this panel.
Ms. DUNN. Thank you very much, Mr. Vice Chairman, and I am delighted to welcome two of my freshmen colleagues to testify here. It is a very important symbol to us of how much this whole quest to reform means for—to the freshmen. We have been out in the toiling in the vineyards and we have had it burned into our psyches that the public wants these things we are talking about.
We have been following several threads through the development of this committee, and one that has come to us several times, and several times even today, is the possibility of limiting the length of terms of committee chairmen to 6 years, and on the Republican side, as you know, we have voted to do that with our ranking Republican Members.
One of the concerns that I have heard from my constituents is the concern about the power given to staff or to the bureaucracy take away from the unelected-or the elected Member who is very, very busy during his or her congressional day and simply isn't there to gather the information on his or her own and is fed this information and so forth. And I noticed, Mr. Crapo, in your remarks you talked about fairness in staffing.
I was very surprised to learn on the House side that there is not proportional staffing on some of these committees. Have you both been in situations enough to know why that exists or what the effect of that is and what we can do about that?
Mr. McHALE. I would simply say that I support proportional staffing. In very limited areas that are beyond the scope of this committee, some lack of proportion can be justified, but the norm that I think should be followed, both in terms of committee membership and allocation of staff is proportional representation. I happen to think that is democratic, with a small d, and I would advocate that.
I have not, in the committees where I have served in the last 30 days, experienced the opportunity of discovering the inequity of disproportionate staffing, but I can tell you as one newly elected Democratic Member, I certainly would not approve of that.
Mr. CRAPO. With regard to your question as to the source or the justification for it, I don't know what the source or justification of it is. I do think that I have seen at least some indication of the impact, and that is simply an unfair impact on the ability to handle the work that is necessary for those allocated to do the work of the committee.
On the other part of your question or your earlier comments with regard to term limits for committee chairmen and ranking Members, I believe that the American people would very strongly support that kind of reform, because one of the most significant concerns that is voiced to me is concern over the centralization of power in one or in a small number of individuals over a long period of time, and that is what we see in Congress in control of some of these very powerful committees.
When the centralization of that control is maintained in a small number of individuals over a long period of time, whether it be Republicans as ranking Members or Democrats as the chairman or vice versa, that to me hits right at the core of the strong support for term limits generally in this country.
Ms. DUNN. Could I just do one follow up, Mr. Vice Chairman? Mr. McHale, do you think that you could put together a coalition of your freshmen colleagues on the Democrat side to support a fairer staffing if that were to be a recommendation to come from this committee?
Mr. McHALE. Let me first ask, has that been a problem on the majority side of the aisle? I am teasing as I say that. I would certainly support an effort that would be led by appropriate Members on the minority side of the aisle, pointing out any inequity and seeking a redress of the balance on a committee staff.
I think appropriately that is an issue that should be led from the minority, but I can and do pledge to you publicly I would support that. There are certain institutional reforms that I think should survive short-term partisanship or short-term balances of power.
It seems to me that regardless of who the majority party is or who might happen to be in the minority, the proportional representation on a committee and proportional representation among com