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COMMITTEE ON RULES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

SEVENTY-FIRST CONGRESS, THIRD SESSION

BERTRAND H. SNELL, New York, Chairman FRED S. PURNELL, Indiana.

EDWARD W. POU, North Carolina. EARL C. MICHENER, Michigan.

WILLIAM B. BANKHEAD, Alabama. HARRY C. RANSLEY, Pennsylvania.

JOHN J. O'CONNOR, New York, FRANKLIN W. FORT, New Jersey.

ADOLPH J. SABATI, Illinois.
JOSEPH W. MARTIN, JR., Massachusetts.
LLOYD THURSTON, Iowa.
ELLIOTT W, SPROU'L, Illinois.

MAUD A. REED Clerk

AMENDMENT TO CONSTITUTION RELATING TO ELECTION

OF PRESIDENT, ETC.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 1931
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON RULES,

Washington, D. C. The committee niet at 10.30; the Hon. Bertrand H. Snell, chairman, presiding.

The CHAIRMAN. The committee will now take up the consideration of House Joint Resolution 292, and we will hear from Mr. Gifford.

(H. J. Res. 292, Seventy-first Congress, second session)
JOINT RESOLUTION Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of
America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein),
That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of
the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the
Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several
States:

"ARTICLE-
"SECTION 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at
noon on the 24th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives
at noon on the 4th day of January, of the years in which such terms would have
ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall
then begin.

"SEC. 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall be on the 4th day of January unless they shall by law appoint a different day,

"Sec. 3. If the President elect dies, then the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President is not chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect fails to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President has qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case where neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect has qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which a qualified person shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President has qualified.

"Sec. 4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice devolves upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice devolves upon them.

“Sec. 5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 30th day of November of the year following the year in which this article is ratified.

"SEC. 6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the States within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress, and the act of ratification shall be by legislatures, the entire membership

of at least one branch of which shall have been elected subsequent to such date of submission.'

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House Report No. 1105, Seventy-first Congress, Second Session

PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF

THE UNITED STATES

APRIL 8, 1930.-Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be printed

Mr. GIFFORD, from the Committee on Election of President, Vice

President, and Representatives in Congress, submitted the following

REPORT

[To accompany H. J. Res. 292]

The Committee on Election of President, Vice President, and Representatives in Congress, having had under consideration House Joint Resolution 292, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, report it back to the House and recommend that the joint resolution do pass.

For purposes of convenient reference, the applicable provisions of the Constitution and of various statutes are printed as an appendix to the report.

(H. J. Res. 292, Seventy-first Congress, second session JOINT RESOLUTION Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thiras of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:

"ARTICLE "SECTION 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 24th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 4th day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

“SEC. 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall be on the 4th day of January unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

“Sec. 3. If the President elect dies, then Vice President elect shall become President. If a President is not chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect fails to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President has qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case where neither a President elect nor a Vice President

elect has qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which a qualified person shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President has qualified.

“Sec. 4.- The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice devolves upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice devolves upon them.

“SEC. 5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 30th day of November of the year following the year in which this article is ratified.

"ŠEC. 6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the States within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress, and the act of ratification shall be by legislatures the entire membership of at least one branch of which shall have been elected subsequent to such date of submission."

EXPLANATION OF HOUSE RESOLUTION The constitutional amendment which this resolution proposes will accomplish the following:

(1) The newly elected Congress will count the electoral votes, and in case a majority has not been received, the newly elected House of Representatives will choose the President, and the Senate (including the newly elected Senators) will choose the Vice President;

(2) The newly elected President, Vice President, and Members of Congress will take office approximately two months after their election.

(3) The new Congress may assemble approximately two months after the election;

(4) The power of the House of Representatives to choose a President, whenever the right of choice devolves upon it, after the time fixed for the beginning of his term (in the event that it should not be able to choose a President before that time) is specifically affirmed;

(5) Congress will be given power to provide for the case where neither a President nor à Vice President has been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of the term-a contingency not covered by any provision in the Constitution;

(6) The Vice President elect will become President, in the event that the President elect should die before the time fixed for the beginning of his term-a contingency not covered by any provision in the Constitution;

(7) Congress is given power to provide for the case of the death of (a) both the President elect and the Vice President elect, (b) one of the three highest on the list of those whom the electors voted for for President, if the election is thrown into the House, and (c) one of the two highest on the list of those whom the electors voted for for Vice President, if the election of the Vice President is thrown into the Senate;

(8) The “short session” of Congress will be abolished; and

(9) A necessary amendment will be made to the twelfth amendment and certain ambiguities will be removed.

It is obvious that the above results can be accomplished only by constitutional amendment.

COUNTING ELECTORAL VOTES BY NEWLY ELECTED CONGRESS

Under the present Constitution, the old Congress counts the electoral votes, the retiring House of Representatives chooses the President whenever the right of choice devolves upon the House, and the Senate (including the retiring Senators) chooses the Vice President whenever no person has received a majority of the electoral votes.

In order that these duties may devolve upon the new Congress, the first section of the proposed amendment provides that presidential terms shall begin on January 24 and the terms of Members of Congress on January 4. This permits the new Congress to assemble and affords it 20 days, before the terms of the President and Vice President begin, in which to count the electoral votes and to make the choice if a mjority has not been received. In order to provide ample notice and opportunity to attend, and to prevent any possible retroactive interpretation, it is provided, in section 5, that this section shall take effect on the 30th day of November of the year following the year in which the amendment is ratified.

These results can be obtained only by a constitutional amendment. The new Congress must meet and the term of the new Members must begin prior to the date on which the President's term begins. Consequently, terms which are fixed in the Constitution and which now begin on March 4, must be shortened or lengthened.

CHANGING THE TERMS Under our present system, the old Congress expires on the 4th day of March of the odd years, and the first meeting of the new Congress is on the first Monday of the following December. The newly elected Members have no opportunity for 13 months even to begin to put into effect the policies on which they were elected, unless an extraordinary session of the Congress should be called by the President before that time.

The first section of the proposed amendment provides that the terms of the newly elected President and Vice President shall begin on the 24th day of January, and that the terms of the newly elected Members of Congress shall begin on the 4th day of January. Under this provision the newly elected officers will take office and be prepared to carry out the policies on which they were elected approximately two months after their election.

A constitutional amendment is necessary to enable the newly elected officers to take office before March 4, for this necessitates & shortening or lengthening of the terms of the officers whom they succeed. Congress now has power to prescribe the day on which the Congress is to assemble. But under that power, obviously, Congress can not change the dates on which the terms begin.

SESSIONS OF CONGRESS Under the present Constitution (Art. I, sec. 4, par. 2) the Congress is required to assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall be on the first Monday in December unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

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