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upon what our air policy should be in connection with international routes, and also with the defense of America always in the picture.
Now, if there is no further question, I am grateful for the consideration given me.
The CHAIRMAN. We very much appreciate your coming and thank you for your suggestions. I assure you they will be given careful consideration by the committee.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Thank you, gentlemen.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will stand in recess until 10 o'clock tomorrow, when we will meet in the Education and Labor Committee room in the Capitol where we first met. Thank you, gentlemen, for coming.
(Whereupon, at 11:50 a. m., a recess was taken to Friday, March 16, 1945, at 10 a. m.)
ORGANIZATION OF CONGRESS
FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 1945
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES,
JOINT COMMITTEE ON THE ORGANIZATION OF CONGRESS
Washington, D. C.
The joint committee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 a. m., in the United States Capitol, Senator La Follette (chairman) presiding. Present: Senators La Follette (chairman), Thomas, and Pepper, and Representatives Monroney (vice chairman), Michener, and Plumley.
Also present: George B. Galloway, staff director.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be in order. We are very pleased to have Senator Downey here this morning. Senator, we will be glad to have you proceed in your own way to discuss any of the aspects of this question which the committee has under consideration.
STATEMENT OF HON. SHERIDAN DOWNEY, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM CALIFORNIA
Senator DOWNEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be here.
I want to say that I have not had an opportunity to prepare anything formal, nor even to clarify my own thoughts, and I would like the right to correct my testimony and make it less incoherent.
The CHAIRMAN. Surely.
Senator DOWNEY. It happened, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, that I walked over from my office to this committee room today with Hugh Russell Fraser, a friend of mine and author of Democracy in the Making: The Jackson-Tyler Era.
Partly to plague Mr. Fraser, and also to bring out a fact, I expressed the opinion that the business of a United States Senator had so increased that each and every one of us today has to handle more complex and complicated problems than faced Andrew Jackson in the 8 years of his term.
This statement, of course, came as somewhat of a shock to Mr. Fraser. Naturally it would. He suggested that Jackson had faced. and overcome the challenge of nullification in South Carolina; that he had fought and destroyed the great private banking monopoly known as the Bank of the United States; that he had made France pay certain long-owed obligations; that he had reduced the gold content of the dollar, and had endeavored, over a period of years, to limit the sales of public lands to actual settlers.
I was not, however, overly impressed. The fact remains that each and all of these questions, important as they were, does not and cannot
compare with the endless flow of important bills and resolutions, involving the fate of millions of people, not only in our own Nation but in the whole world, which are constantly coming up in committee and on the floor of the Senate.
Nor is it especially significant that President Jackson, as Mr. Fraser reminded me, paid off the national debt. What was the national debt then? Why, Mr. Chairman, it was only $58,000,000 when Jackson took office in 1829, and by 1834 it was down to less than $5,000,000. These sums are only a small part of the great appropriations running into the billions which we are constantly dealing with today.
This comparison I have been making with the Government as it existed a hundred years ago is important, Mr. Chairman, as it illustrates how essential it is to guard the Congress as the great sounding board of public opinion, as an instrument to check the growth of bureaucracy, and a means of effectively and efficiently reflecting the people's will.
I do not believe that with the passing of the war our problems are going to decrease. I think, rather, they will multiply. To the Senate and the House for many years thereafter will come a great flood of treaties and compacts, the total of which will burden us to a far greater extent than any matters we have had thus far-yes, even including the many phases of war legislation and the legislation born of the great depression that came in 1932.
The CHAIRMAN. We have had before the Foreign Relations Committee a Mexican water treaty, and as I recall, the hearings lasted 5 weeks. It was, in my opinion one of the most complex situations that any committee ever had to deal with.
Senator DowNEY. Yes. Now the significant thing about that situation, Mr. Chairman, is that I do not believe any Senator can fairly comprehend that particular treaty without at least 3 or 4 months concentrated study of it.
The Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate has 23 members. They are all men of genuine ability. Yet I am duty bound to point out that never during those protracted hearings on the Mexican water treaty before the committee did we reach the point where we had more than 3 or 4 members present. Needless to say, 1 of the members most faithful in attendance, other than the chairman, Senator Connally, of Texas, and Senator Johnson, my colleague from California, who was naturally deeply interested, was the distinguished Senator who is now presiding over this committee.
I do not say this in censure of the other Senators who were not there. Indeed, I know very well why they were not there. They were not there, Mr. Chairman, simply and solely because they had a great many other equally important committee hearings to attend every day. Thus, it became a matter of a choice between important measures, affecting their own State and the Nation, vying for their attention.
What is true of other Senators in that respect is, of course, true of myself. In fact, all the Senators from the larger and more populous States have a very heavy burden. Each day they have matters come before them which could, if they could spare the time, occupy their attention for months. I mean that literally. The field to work on is practically unlimited. I was, as you know, a lawyer for many years. Had I been handling any important case, comparable in magnitude
and scope to some of the measures pending here in the Senate, I would have had to put months of solid work on it. Yet here we are compelled to dispose of weighty and complicated matters after being able to listen to arguments only for perhaps an hour or two. Conscious of that fact, I am often amazed that we do as well as we do.
Observe for a moment the volume of business that is done in my office alone. It is so great as to almost break me and my whole staff down. In mail alone, we receive from 200 to 300 letters every 24 hours. And this is in addition to telegrams and long-distance calls and personal visits.
We do the best we can. We try to have every letter answered the day it is received. My staff is departmentalized. That is, each girl is an expert in some particular field. Thus, one handles matters affecting agriculture; another veterans' rights; another civil service; another interstate-commerce matters and manufacturing; another documents and information, and so forth. If the office were not so organized we could not possibly begin to carry the load.
Yet, Mr. Chairman, I can say to you truthfully that even if I had four times the amount of time I have I could not possibly perform adequately and fully the duties rightfully imposed on me as ambassador from my State. In the departments of the Government there are always delays or injustices or matters overlooked in which a Senator can be of very great assistance to his constituents.
The flood of duties, in my office has reached such proportions, and is so steadily increasing, that I am almost totally unable to enter into any study of legislative matters. That means that frequently I have to inform myself concerning matters of importance by listening to arguments on the floor of the Senate. And yet even my presence on the floor is only intermittent, so great is the burden of my office duties if I am to efficiently carry out my responsibilities with respect to the State of California.
Now all this, Mr. Chairman, brings me to a specific suggestion: Some sort of plan ought to be worked out whereby this heavy burden is more fairly allocated. For instance, we have from California, 2 Senators and 23 Representatives. There is much duplication of work between the Senators and Representatives. This should be eliminated so far as possible. One way would be to limit the Senators to State-wide issues, others affecting the State being handled by the Representatives. To handle this responsibility efficiently, each Representative should be allocated an executive assistant, a man who would be paid at least $7,500 a year.
To coordinate the work of all these executive assistants, at least in the case of the larger States, there ought to be some sort of chief assistant, or dean of the delegation. By coordinating the work of all the executive assistants further duplication of work could be eliminated. Now, these executive assistants, and the coordinator or dean of them for a given State should be men of ability and training. They should be men keenly familiar with official Washington, the various bureaus and departments. They should not be chosen as a result of political favor, or to pay off political debts; rather, I suggest, certain standards should be set up which they must meet in order to qualify for the post. Mr. MICHENER. Senator, right there, if you will permit, what kind of experience in Washington?