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general study of anything that would improve the mechanics of our operation. That was all right, that language was not changed.
There was a limitation written in by the Senate that restricts our reporting or recommendations. That is where I think the limitation comes in. In view of the practical fact that it has been dozens of years since the Congress did examine its own mechanics and machinery and ways of helping itself to do this monumental task that we have to do, I think the original decision made by the committee not to be too restrictive on the testimony and place restriction only at the place where the recommendations are given was a good decision.
Mr. MICHENER. I will not say anything more, except this, that we are all busy. I cannot see the advantage in the committee's taking testimony about something when we are specifically precluded from even making any recommendation that we do anything about it. I just want to consider the things on which we are authorized to act. Now I am through.
Senator DowNEY. Mr. Chairman, I will not intrude any further upon the committee with that point, or any other similar points, although I did have some in mind.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator, I want to thank you very much for your appearance here today. As to one matter that you brought up, of course, I realize perhaps it is something which might have to be worked out as the result of informal action, I am not sure in my mind about that, among the various delegations, including Senators and Representatives, but I do know from my own experience that in many instances I find that matters which are brought to my attention from Wisconsin and upon which I work, and people in my office work, I find later on that those same matters have been taken up with several members of the Wisconsin delegation of the House, and also with my colleague, Senator Wiley. We are often all working on the same thing. It increases, I think unnecessarily, the work of the Senators and Representatives, and likewise it increases the work of the department or agency that is involved.
Senator DOWNEY. I am very much in agreement with that. my State I continuously have that experience, where we are working at odds, where, without my knowledge, the Representatives are working on the same problem.
I want to make one comment here. I think our Representatives from the State of California do a very fine job in their office work, and nothing I said should be taken as being critical of them.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions? If not, we thank you for an excellent statement, Senator Downey.
STATEMENT OF HON. ESTES KEFAUVER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM TENNESSEE
The CHAIRMAN. I would like to say before Mr. Kefauver begins his statement that I had a chance to see him about this hearing. It will be recalled that when the resolution was before the Senate and there was some discussion about the effect of the amendment proposed by the Rules Committee, that I mentioned specifically that one of the things which I thought the committee would be prohibited from recom
mending was the proposal which is embodied in House Resolution 31 introduced by Representative Kefauver.
However, relying upon my recollection of the discussion which the committee had had concerning the rather wide field which we would be permitted to discuss in the hearings, I invited him to appear this morning.
I just wanted to make that statement, because Mr. Kefauver was invited to discuss this very matter. Of course, the Chairman is only the creature of this committee. I personally would like to hear from the Representative, so if it is agreeable to the other members of the committee, we will hear him.
Mr. MICHENER. That is entirely agreeable to me. I did not want to throw any bombshell here. I wanted it to be understood that when the committee reported it would be precluded from even recommending the things about which the gentleman is going to talk. I am familiar with his topic and am much in sympathy with it, and I did all I could to make it possible for this committee to give consideration to the things about which he is going to talk, but we cannot make any recommendations on it.
The VICE CHAIRMAN. Right along that line, Mr. Michener, I think the third item of our study, which is one of the most difficult of all to find the answer to, is to find the way of improving the relationship between the two Houses of Congress and the executive department.
Perhaps we are precluded from bringing in a specific recommendation on the conclusion that Mr. Kefauver arrives at, but the collateral reason for the necessity of improvement of relationships might suggest to the committee, or to subsequent witnesses, an answer that we might not be precluded from recommending.
Therefore I think, even in view of the extreme limitation that was placed on us in the matter of recommendations, the contribution that Mr. Kafauver will be able to make to this general picture would be great.
Mr. KEFAUVER. Mr. Chairman, how much time may I have? I have a lengthy prepared statement here, but if you will indicate how much time I may have, I will be as brief as is necessary.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed in your own way.
Mr. KEFAUVER. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I first want to say I think the creation of this committee and the work you are doing is one of the bright chapters in recent congressional history.
I do not think I need elaborate on the fact that we must have a strong Congress. Unless we do something to improve the set-up in Congress we are going to bog down and not be able to maintain a strong Federal legislature.
I have here for discussion many specific points, and I am going to leave my pet project, the report and question period to the last, and I will only discuss it briefly.
As I see it, the methods of strengthening Congress fall into four general groups.
The first is the improvement of cooperation or liaison between the Legislature and Executive; the second is the staffing of Congress; the third is the reorganization of committees; and the fourth is the neces sity of arranging some method of getting a large part of the errandboy work off the shoulders of Senators and Congressmen.
I shall discuss the fourth matter first. I think three-fourths of the time of the average Member of Congress is taken up with performing functions other than for what he is elected.
Unless we find some method of enabling Members of Congress to spend more of their time on legislation we are going to get, one of these days, into a very sorry plight.
There are many things that we could do. The first recommendation and this is one made by Dr. George Galloway, and I want to compliment the committee very highly upon the selection of Dr. Galloway as head of the staff, I think of all the men in private life he has given more thought and has better ideas about the reorganization of Congress than anyone I know of the first recommendation is with respect to the District of Columbia.
We have been foolish in holding onto the details of the District government. We have taken up an awful lot of our time with the consideration of District of Columbia matters. There is no real reason why we cannot set up a District government which would, in the House of Representatives, save 2 days a month, which would save the work of a committee on each side of the Hill, and furthermore it would save us all of the time that we have to spend in talking with citizens of the District. They are entitled to talk with us and discuss their problems with us because we insist upon retaining jurisdiction over the District.
Let us set up some kind of autonomous government, and if we still want to keep a check on the ordinances and laws passed by the District of Columbia, let us provide for a provisional order system whereby the ordinances or legislative enactments of the District government can be supervised,' checked over, before they go into operation.
That would save a tremendous amount of time of all Members of Congress.
The second is the matter of private claims bills. I know of no good reason why private claims bills should have to be passed upon in Congress. In the first place it is unfair, because the ordinary injured claimant who does not have political connections is likely not to get justice. It is a haphazard method. We are using a forum which is not set up for the giving of real consideration to the merits of private claims bills.
A lot of effort has been made to pass acts to enable an injured claimant, or his estate, to sue the Government, but for various reasons they have not been passed. In the first place, we are afraid it might not protect the interest of the Government. That argument cannot hold true, because in countless instances we have authorized private people to sue the Government.
Land condemnation, contract termination, and those things are worked out so that the judge or jury who passes judgment protects the interest of the Government.
The second reason a bill of this sort has not been passed in the past is we fear that even after the claim has been considered by the court, some Congressman, upon the behest of an injured person, would still try to get a private claims bill through the Congress. That could be taken care of by providing in the law that this would be his exclusive remedy and a claimant should be estopped or precluded from asserting a claim in any other way except in a court established for the
consideration of it.
As we all know, the matter of having to discuss with constituents the claims, appearing before the Claims Committee, taking up the time on the floor of the House and Senate and in committee for their consideration consumes a great deal of the time of the Members of Congress.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you suffer an interruption there?
Mr. KEFAUVER. Yes, indeed; anywhere along the line.
The CHAIRMAN. In my experience here, I can remember the time when there was very careful consideration given by the Senate to these private claims bills. Often considerable debate would occur upon a particular measure. But with the increased pressure of work upon individual Senators, and upon the Senate as a whole, and the increase in the number of vitally important matters, it is my observation that private claims get very little consideration from the Senate as a whole. Therefore it has seemed to me that in view of this development, which is inevitable and nothing I have said is to be taken in criticism of the Senate or its Members-that the situation of the individual claimant and his opportunity to secure justice and appropriate redress would be benefited by some plan such as you are discussing.
Mr. KEFAUVER. Unquestionably that is true.
The VICE CHAIRMAN. Your plan would give the person that has a legitimate claim an opportunity for a day in court. Under our present system they have no day in court and they are at the mercy of machinery that is not designed in any way to render them that service.
Mr. KEFAUVER. Although I ought not say this, but unless the claimant happens to be in political favor of the party in power or with some official from his section or district, he may have a perfectly legitimate claim but may have difficulty in getting anyone to sponsor it very earnestly.
The CHAIRMAN. Also I may say we have never had, so far as I know, the officially designated objectors which I understand you have in the House to represent the minority and majority.
Mr. KEFAUVER. We do.
The CHAIRMAN. I have often been somewhat aggrieved when a claim, which has had consideration by the House committee and by the House, came over to the Senate and had consideration by the Senate Claims Committee, and then came up under unanimous consent in the Senate, and a figure had been arrived at that a man who was hit by a Government truck and lost a leg, after the three stages of procedure had been gone through, should have $2,500, but because some Senator, who was not a member of the committee, and only had an opportunity to read the report as the calendar was being called thought the amount excessive-I have seen the person in charge of the bill willing to reduce the amount by $1,000 in order to obviate the single objection which would throw the bill over and perhaps defeat it.
I am not criticising any Senator who felt that $2,500 was excessive, but it seems to me obvious on the face of it the present procedure is not the way to secure a judicial determination of the right of private claimants.
Mr. KEFAUVER. Senator La Follette, at the conclusion of the last. Congress I saw this happen: A claim bill passed the House for $5,000.
I think it was a death case.
The Senate allowed $500. The Congressman who had sponsored the bill in the House agreed to accept the reduced amount of the Senate on the theory that the Congress was about to adjourn and unless he got it through for $500 he feared he would not get anything. Of course, that is not doing justice to the claimant.
The VICE CHAIRMAN. That is a case of our great Government taking advantage of a widow who is suffering a real loss.
Mr. KFFAUVER. I have the pleasure of being a member of the Judiciary Committee, along with the distinguished gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Michener. It seems to me this should be handled in one of three ways: In the first place, you could authorize suits in the district Federal courts, or you could authorize suit in the Court of Claims, and the Court of Claims is now constituted so it could handle these suits, because, as you well know, upon the passage of the contract termination law the number of Commissioners of the Court of Claims was increased to 27, and they go all over the United States, wherever there may be litigation involving the Federal Government, to hear testimony.
The Commissioners are lawyers, they are well prepared to hear the cases. So I think you could very well authorize the Commissioners to hear these cases, pass judgment on them, and if the Government cr the claimant were dissatisfied they could appeal to the Court of Claims. As it works, the departments actually pass on these claims. As the chairman has said, Members of Congress, because of the stress of other matters, simply do not have time to give them judicial consideration. So what happens is that a claims bill is sent to the department and if the department is against it the chances are the claim bill is not passed, and if the department is for it the claim bill is usually passed through both Houses.
Much better than that system would be to allow some executive agency to pass on them originally and then send the order up to Congress and let the Claims Committee look them over and see if they thought justice was done under a provisional order system, and unless they negative the finding of the commission or executive agency within a certain time the orders should become effective. That would be much more satisfactory than our present haphazard method of doing it.
The third suggestion I have for taking some of the work off the shoulders of Congressmen is an enlargement of what we have already established in some degree, of having established executive offices on either end of the Capitol. This could be especially effective if the number of committees were reduced, as I hope they will be, and if the committees were typed to fit in with the departments.
Then if we had a committee that would have jurisdiction over the O. P. A., or whatever the department would be, the O. P. A. should have an office next to that committee having jurisdiction of it, with some officer of a higher echelon in charge of the office, and there should be constant communication and talk between the clerk of the committee and executive officer in charge of the executive office on the Hill.
Then when you have a letter from a constituent that has something to do with the O. P. A., instead of having to call five or six officers down at the O. P. A. office and make three or four trips with the constituent down to see somebody in the office, you would be able to