« PreviousContinue »
tion of the country upon this problem. I suspect that the thought in his mind is that if a commission, composed of such men as the former Secretary of the Interior Garfield; Mr. Lorimer, of the Saturday Evening Post; Mrs. Mary Roberts Rinehart; Mr. Cowles, editor, of Des Moines, Iowa; and others of like standing from States that do not have public lands, and others from States that do have public lands, should make a report upon the subject, the whole country would be aroused to its importance, and that Congress would be spurred on to action. In that connection I should have mentioned Colonel Greeley, who, for so long, was the head of the Forest Service, as a member of that commission.
Mr. Pou. Is this bill based upon the recommendation of the President?
Mr. FRENCH. Yes; in fact, the President has already named the commission. The members have had a preliminary meeting at their own expense, but, of course, the commission has no authority to go forward until Congress authorizes it, and the President has no fund from which money may be drawn to pay the expenses of the commission.
Mr. BANKHEAD. It is frankly admitted by you, Mr. French, and you are always frank, that you think the Members of Congress who represent those various elements involved in the proposition, and who have investigated the matter and have knowledge of the subject, could without any expenditure, draft legislation that you think would commend itself to the wisdom of Congress, but you say that they have been unable to get sentiment crystallized on the subject sufficiently to carry out the proposed policy, and you come here and ask us to appropriate public money to build up or crystallize public sentiment and put it behind the Members of Congress in order to secure the necessary legislation. Frankly, is that about the situation?
Mr. FRENCH. I think the main value that is to be gained from the work of the commission would be that you would have the judgment of the fine men and women composing it, and who come from States that are not directly interested. They would look at the problem from the broad national standpoint, and I think that the country would have faith in whatever report they might make. They would feel that it was impartial, and that would probably command the support of all parts of the country. I think it would be decidedly helpful from that standpoint.
Mr. SABATH. Could not the commission obtain its information from the experiment stations located in those various States, and in the various sections of the country?
Mr. FRENCH. That would be one of the means of securing it, of
Mr. SABATH. The people there, who are thoroughly familiar with the conditions in that section of the country, would be in a better position to give you a report on which you could draft a bill than people who are not at all familiar with the conditions there.
Mr. FRENCH. Of course, they would be the ones who in large part would supply the information. The commission would rely heavily upon that information in making its survey and report. I think that the survey is one that should be made speedily, and I hope it will be done.
Mr. Sabath. I am of the opinion that the members of your committee could investigate it and bring in a bill.
Mr. Colton. This commission is made up of men from those States, plus members from the other States. It provides for a commission of not to exceed 25 persons, of whom 21 have been suggested. I might say, in reply to what the gentleman from Illinois has said, that that is the very situation. We have not been able to agree. Our own States are not united, and there has not been anybody that could get them together. I might add this, that in our own committee we have been unable to do this. We have tried it for seven years, and, in the meantime, the damage is being done. It is a case where Rome is burning while Nero is fiddling. I am frank to say that the work of the commission, in addition to gathering facts on which to base our legislation, will, in my judgment, crystalize public sentiment behind our action.
The CHAIRMAN. Was this bill unanimously reported by your committee?
Mr. Colton. Yes. Our ranking minority member was supposed to be here this morning. It is a unanimous report.
Mr. Fort. Is the personnel of your committee made up exclusively of members from public-land States?
Mr. Colton. Until this session, that was the practice. I think it was a mistake. I think we should have had representation from other States. This session there have been placed on our committee a number of men from different sections of the country. We have a member from Michigan and one from Iowa, and they are very valuable members of the committee. This year the representation is made more general throughout the country than ever before.
Mr. Pou. Who is the ranking minority member?
(Thereupon, the committee proceeded to the consideration of other business.)