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the assistant clerks. This does not tell the whole story but I do not think there is anybody who will question the fact that we are one of the hardest working committees in the House.
Mr. MICHENER. At least the chairman is.
Mr. BLAND. The chairman finds that he has to do the work because many of the others who are perfectly willing are on other committees that are taking their time. For instance, the other day, Mr. Hart, who is on some committee that the Speaker asked him to go on told me that he wants to attend our meetings and to assist in our work but he does not have the time to come to our meetings. The same is true with Mr. Mansfield and the same is true with Mr. Ramspeck. I have no criticism of them but it makes it very hard for the chairman of the committee.
The CHAIRMAN. We appreciate your statement very much, Judge Bland.
Mr. BLAND. Thank you very much.
The CHAIRMAN. Judge Bland, I noticed you had a prepared statement and that you skipped part of it. We will be glad to print the entire statement in the record and likewise we will submit the transcript to you and will be glad to have you incorporate any suggestions that may occur to you.
Mr. BLAND. I was only referring to a memorandum prepared for me by my very efficient clerk.
The CHAIRMAN. We will be pleased to have you make any changes in your statement or incorporate any other suggestions or points that you would like to have in the record.
Mr. BLAND. Thank you very much.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you for your appearance this morning. Mr. BLAND. I think I have covered the substance of what I had in mind.
(The following statements were subsequently filed for the record:)
Comparable committees of the House with clerks whose salaries were $3,300 or more Jan. 1, 1945
Salary of clerk before Jan. 1, 1945
3, 300 3.300
3, 300 3, 300 3,300
Merchant Marine and Fisheries:
Before Jan. 1, 1945
After Jan. 1, 1945
Post Office and Post Roads_
Public Buildings and Grounds.
Revision of the Laws___
Rivers and Harbors..
3, 300 3, 300
World War Veterans' Legislation..
Comparable committees of the House with assistant clerks with salary over $1,740
Comparable committees of the House with janitors or messengers with salary over $1,260
The CHAIRMAN. Representative Priest, we are very glad to have you here this morning and will be glad to have you proceed in your own way on the subject this committee has for study.
STATEMENT OF HON. J. PERCY PRIEST, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TENNESSEE
Mr. PRIEST. I do not have a prepared statement. I am here not in the belief I can bring a lot of new suggestions or any profound observations with reference to the reorganization of Congress, but I am here because of the very deep interest in the task that has been undertaken by this committee, and because of a hope that the committee will be able, out of the recommendations and its own work in analyzing and putting into some practical working form the recommendations made by witnesses who have appeared and will yet appear to help the Congress do the great job that is ahead of it.
I have been very fearful, for the last 2 years in particular, and have felt rather grave concern over the question of whether the Congress can much longer function, or even survive, if it goes on the way it has been going, trying to do two jobs at the same time. I mean by that jobs in the legislative field and in the administrative or executive branch of the Government. I feel that if we can in some way find a solution to that one problem, many of these other minor but closely related problems will be solved.
Mr. Cox. What is the direction in which Congress is traveling that has caused you to express that opinion?
Mr. PRIEST. My feeling is it is not through any particular direction that Congress is traveling, but I feel we have become, and are becoming so encumbered with many responsibilities and duties that have come because of the system that has grown up with reference to administrative work, that we do not have time to give to the big job we came here to do, which is to legislate, and I feel that our legislative responsibilities are being rather sorely neglected because of the crowding of other matters into our daily program.
Mr. Cox. What has Congress done in the administrative field to which you take exception?
Mr. PRIEST. I should make that clearer, Mr. Cox. I do not mean the discharge of responsibilities but the handling of the personal matters that relate to problems of administration, personal matters that affect our people, and I say that, not in any sense as a criticism at all. Last summer, for example, Mr. Chairman, during the time that I kept my office open in the District, I asked my secretary one day to make a check of the number of people who came to see me. I had 48 people to see me during that day. All of them had engagements and appointments to see me.
Of the 48, only two came to see me about any legislative proposal whatsoever. The other 46 people came for 46 separate individual personal problems which they had a perfect right to bring to me, and I say this in no sense as a criticism, but only 2 out of the 48 in 1 day came to see me about legislation.
Mr. MICHENER. Could you get jobs for the other 46?
Mr. PRIEST. The employment was not so much a problem. I do not know what the solution to that situation might be but I feel that all of us agree that the Congress was created under the Constitution to do a legislative job, and each of us knows that we do not have one-tenth of the time to devote to the study of legislation and the perfecting of legislation that we should have. We do not have because our time is divided among so many other things.
As an example of that, I intended to prepare a statement to present at this hearing. I was due to come before this committee last Friday but within 1 hour that morning I had enough departmental matters that I personally had to see to that I had to call Dr. Galloway and ask him to postpone my appearance before this committee. I had planned to prepare a statement but I have had those same departmental matters constantly since that time and I came this morning without a statement.
Mr. Cox. Going back to these engagements that you referred to, I wonder if the complaints of the 46 had to do with administrative matters which grew out of abuses that administrative agents were guilty of, discretion that had been loosely or widely or liberally vested in the administrative agencies by the Congress.
Mr. PRIEST. I do not know. I do not have a break-down of those figures, but I will say this, Mr. Cox. It is my position that if we had more time to consider the legislation authorizing the agencies to do certain things there might not have been so many loopholes for the administrators.
Mr. Cox. Do you advocate having Congress set about recapturing many of the powers that it has delegated to someone else?
Mr. PRIEST. I think Congress should as soon as possible exercise all of the powers granted to it under the Constitution, and to better enable Congress to exercise those powers, I have this specific suggestion to make which might be worth considering,
I think we might consider the setablishment of a departmental liaison office for each department, or a general liaison office on the Hill here to assist Members of Congress in handling the departmental problems that come to them, in order that we might spend more time exercising those functions granted to us, and expected of us under the Constitution.
The VICE CHAIRMAN. Is it not a fact, Mr. Priest, that under the system as it now works, no matter what the administrative decision is, if it goes against the constituent, that constituent looks to the Congress as sort of an appellate court to take his case to, a higher court for a decision that will be to this interest?
Mr. PRIEST. Exactly.
Mr. Cox. Should there not be some place he can appeal to with the hope at least of kindly consideration?
Mr. PRIEST. That is true, and I do not want to do away with that. Mr. Cox. Are you advocating that Congress resist the encroachment of the executive branch of the Government?
Mr. PRIEST. Over the years there has been a double encroachment. I do not believe either branch of the Government is wholly to blame. Mr. Cox. Where has the legislative branch transgressed? Can you give us one instance where the legislative branch of the Government has transgressed?
Mr. PRIEST. I do not believe I would use the word "transgressed." Mr. Cox. Has encroached, then.
Mr. PRIEST. I do not recall just now specific instances, but I think there has been a stepping over by both branches of the Government at times.
I think it has been inevitable that that would be true, and I do not want to do away with the forum of appeal. That is why I suggested this liaison office, in order to bring the problems that will come and to which we must give attention.
Mr. Cox. Where can the citizen, under the present set-up, go, other than to his Representative in Congress, for a friendly hearing? Mr. PRIEST. You misunderstand me, I believe. I still want him to come. That is the only place he can go, but I want some place where we can handle it better than we do, more expeditiously, with a direct channel through which he can go with a lack of lost motion, and which will give us time to do that job for him and to do a much better legislative job. I would not do away with that.
The VICE CHAIRMAN. Is it not a fact, Mr. Priest, when Congress had very little to do excepting with rivers and harbors and with post offices and tariffs, that problems used to come up to Congress and as well run as the post office is, still the appeal for an extension of a rural route comes to the Congressman's desk eventually?
Mr. PRIEST. Yes; that is true.
The VICE CHAIRMAN. The Government has gone literally into dozens of new fields, increasing the work load on every Congressman's desk. You cannot pass a single law that does not sooner or later add to the administrative detail which comes to the Congressman's desk, and it is that load you recognize as having no connection with our legislative duties, but which takes up practically nine-tenths of the time.
Mr. PRIEST. That is true. I believe that I spend fully 80 percent of my time on matters not related to legislation, even before my own committee. That is the broad picture in that respect. I made the suggestion of a general liaison office rather than a separate departmental liaison office.
We have found in the last year or two that the liaison offices of the War Department and Navy Department have been very helpful. They have been helpful in giving me information quickly as to what
particular individual down in the Department I should go to for a quick and accurate answer. Whether it would be better to departmental liaison offices to assist in that, or one general office, well-staffed with an adequate staff and with people well-trained to handle the job for Members of Congress or to assist in the handling of it I do not know, but we need something very badly.
The VICE CHAIRMAN. Has it not always been a fact that every bit of the increased staff that has ever been given to Congress has been purely for this administrative work that you are mentioning and not one bit has been added to assist in the job of legislation?
Mr. PRIEST. I think that is true.
The VICE CHAIRMAN. And still the Congressman, in spite of every additional help that has been given, finds himself overloaded with details?
Mr. PRIEST. Yes.
Mr. MICHENER. Of course, there is a difference on these details. I undoubtedly do not have as many details as the gentleman from Tennessee, but a minority member does not have anything to do with appointing rural carriers, to which the gentleman has referred.
Mr. PRIEST. I believe Mr. Monroney referred to that.
Mr. MICHENER. When the civil-service legislation was enacted, it was contemplated the Members of Congress would be through with the appointment of postmasters, but you know and I know, as a matter of fact, if there is a rural carrier to be appointed in your congressional district, after the Civil Service gets all through with the formal part, then the list comes to you and you make the final decision. That takes time. The minority does not have any of that. We just take the rural carriers that the Postmaster General gives us and we are relieved of all that burden. If you are to have these administrative assistants which you suggest, I take it that you visualize nonpartisan permanent employees not to change with the administration?
Mr. PRIEST. For this general liaison office; yes.
I might say, with reference to the matter you mentioned, that is, patronage in post offices and rural routes, I have very little of that because I have a condensed city district, largely, and mine are other types of problems. I do not spend much time on those particular
The CHAIRMAN. I very much regret that I have to go to another important meeting, and I will ask Representative Monroney to take
Mr. PRIEST. Mr. Chairman, just one or two other points. I know that most of this has been repetition and I have an idea that this committee already has received from earlier witnesses most of the suggestions that are practical and applicable to what might be done.
The VICE CHAIRMAN. Before you leave this matter of the overload of the legislative branch of the Government, you have seen some of the proposals that have been made, I am sure. For instance, I think one was made by Representative Ramspeck, not to this committee, but which has been publicly made that the administrative work which you mentioned be done by a separate body in Congress, a nonvoting body that is similar to Congress and perhaps split the membership of Congress in half, one-half to be strictly legislators and prohibited by