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any of the fine changes which are suggested here, and that will be obviously the difficult task for you and the other panel members. What I would like to do is to contain my comments to continue the thrust of your discussion concerning committees, because I think that what the American people are saying to us is that they want specific solutions for some of the specific problems. They don't expect miracles, but I do think that they expect us to solve or at least to deal with in a businesslike fashion some of the problems. In looking at how we deal with some of the specific problems, I think the information process is too fragmented. There are, on some of the specific areas such as health care and drugs, multilayers of subcommittees dealing with these specific issues. I don't think that the answer is to simply reduce the number of committees, but clearly on some of these specific areas where there must be legislation, we cannot have 17 committees and subcommittees dealing with the same issue of health care and expect to get a coherent policy. We ought to give those who are interested in health care the opportunity to become experts in it, and if necessary, only to serve on that one committee and reward them as if they were serving on a Ways and Means Committee, for even a short duration of time, focusing exclusively.
I would also suggest that we run the problem of who is really controlling the policy agenda, the authorizing committees or the appropriating committees? It seems to me that we ought to take a look at this and make sure that the policy is in the authorizing committee, and that the appropriating committee has no authority to change what is being done in the authorizing committees.
And finally, as we look at the structure and the process of the committee, I think that the earlier panel which discussed, how we take testimony, is absolutely critical to the process of, are we able to become knowledgeable in what is going on?
I sit on the Armed Services Committee, and as in many committees, the people sitting at these tables have information to give us, but they wait for us to ask the right question before they give us the information that we so earnestly seek. We need to have opportunities to sit in a less structured format to obtain real-time information to find out what really is on their mind, other than this cat-and-mouse game of asking the question three different ways in order to get what obviously everyone knows is the appropriate answer to our problem.
So I think that, in summary, we ought to focus on committees to deal with some of the specific areas.
I don't think we are going to change all the committee structures. I don't think you are going to get all of the Chairmen of the committees to agree to give up their subcommittees, but when you have certain areas that we could really focus on and tell the American people, we are going to bring back a health care policy out of the Health Care Committee, and that is the only committee that is going to be responsible for that; and we are going to integrate into that a correlation between House Members and Senate Members, so we don't end up with two separate policies from the start, as opposed to as we now do it, taking the subject matter together at the end. I think we could then tell the American people we are giving them specific solutions for some specific problems.
And then, as time progresses, we could have a long-term look at restructuring all of the subcommittees, and I sincerely think that we had better get some specific results out of Congress, or the American people are not going to have much patience with those who are incumbents waiting for long-term solutions.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to make this suggestion.
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Quinn.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. JACK QUINN, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. QUINN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today and the gentlemen for hearing us.
I am a newly elected freshman in Congress, one of the newly elected group that you just had before you, and I watched some of the proceedings of the freshmen before you. I know you have heard a lot of what we talked about.
I wanted to tell you briefly and submit for the record longer testimony today, but to point out to you that in the campaign that I ran in Buffalo, New York, in towns like Cheektowaga and Hamburg-and I guess I am a brave soul to mention Buffalo, New York, in light of the results on Sunday. Nonetheless, what I heard this past summer and in the fall told me that there are a number of people who are not content with the way the Congress has been doing business.
In my travels around at least the Buffalo and western New York area we outlined an 11-point reform program. We talked about term limits, we talked about limited use of the congressional frank, we talked about the influence of PACS on the Congress and many other things totaling 11. And I won't bore you with the testimony on that today, but I think it is important and will submit it.
Have learned since I have been here-in the short period of time that the way we do business is not only a problem for—as it is perceived by the American people, but very possibly the institution itself. I just want to leave you with very one quick example that I just left not 15 or 20 minutes ago.
One of the testimonies that I talked about and a number of the Members are talking about is term limits. And while some may feel it is an artificial use of how we change membership in the Congress, I think nonetheless it has taken on some momentum. I just have to tell you that there are probably now, I have been approached by three different groups in the Congress who are dealing with term limitation in one fashion or another. It is my belief that if we all got ourselves together-and I guess this goes to the point that Mr. Machtley just pointed out-if we got ourselves together and organized, and I feel that may be a duty of this group here, we could probably put all of our efforts together and get some results. I think that as freshmen, both Democrats and Republicans, you are going to hear from us an awful lot about reform. I think it is important for us, whether it is now or later in April and in May, that we keep the interest alive, that we get ourselves organized and that we come forward with a plan for the American people;
and as important for ourselves is the way that we do business. Thanks very much for the opportunity.
Mr. DREIER. Thank you very much, Mr. Quinn.
[The statement of Mr. Quinn is printed in the Appendix.]
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Meehan.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. MARTIN T. MEEHAN, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE 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.
Mr. BARTLETT. Thank you very much. I don't know if
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
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.
Mr. DREIER. Thank you very much, Mr. Bartlett.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. MICHAEL D. CRAPO, A U.S.
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