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(The statement referred to follows:).
STATEMENT BY MR. KEFAUVER IN REPLY TO DISTRICT COMMISSIONERS' CRITICISMS
OF S. 1527 I have examined with interest the report of the District Commissioners on H. R. 4981, the home rule bill introduced in the House by Mr. Klein which is identical with S. 1527 which the Senate passed on May 31. And I heartily welcome their endorsement of home rule for the people of Washington “as a matter of principle.” It is a great gain for the cause of democracy in the Nation's Capital city to have this impressive support from the present heads of the city government.
The Commissioners' letter of July 14, 1949, is largely devoted to a score of technical criticisms of particular provisions of the bill. I think that many of the technical changes they suggest in the home rule bill are deserving of careful consideration and that some of them might well be adopted in the conference report on the measure after it has passed the House of Representatives. Most of their suggested changes are relatively minor in nature and their consideration by the House District Committee at this time would, I think, unnecessarily delay report of the bill to the House. Four of the 21 questions raised by the Commissioners, however, involve major provisions of the bill which I would object to changing
QUALIFICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP ON DISTRICT COUNCIL
The Commissioners question the advisability of excluding from membership on the District Council persons who hold appointive office in the District government, while permitting Federal employees to serve on the council (sec. 302). They apparently feel that Federal employees should not be permitted to be members of the council.
In actual practice, few District government employees would be affected by this provision of the bill. If a Federal employee were elected to the council and if some question arose that affected the interests of the Federal agency by which he were employed, he could refrain from voting. Such cases would, I think, be most exceptional. The judges of our Federal courts customarily refrain from participating in the decision of cases in which they have a personal interest. A District councilman could do likewise.
According to reliable estimates, Federal employees constitute 20 percent of the total adult population of the District. Why should Federal employment disqualify a person from part-time service on the District Council? Because of his occupation he probably has a special acquaintance with public affairs which would increase his value as a councilman. Probably he has lived in Washington for many years, owns a home here, pays real estate and other local taxes, sends his children to District schools, and has a stake in the efficiency of the municipal services. If no Federal employee could serve on the District Council, the 137,556 Federal employees in the District of Columbia would have no direct voice in the deliberations of the Council and the special interests of one-fifth of the population of Washington might be discriminated against. Lacking a forum in the council, they would turn to Congress to protect their interests and the stage would be set for conflicts between Congress and the council over the conduct of local affairs.
CONSTITUTIONALITY OF LEGISLATIVE VETO PROCEDURE The second major question raised by the Commissioners relates to the constitutionality of the legislative veto procedure in section 402 of the bill. Until this question has been settled in the courts, they say, great uncertainty would prevail in the District as to what the law really is.
My bill makes a grant of general legislative authority to the proposed District council and conditions its effectiveness upon the absence of congressional disapproval by concurrent resolution of both Houses, within a specified time. The constitutionality of this procedure is now generally conceded. The question was not even raised by Mr. Colladay, general counsel of the Washington Board of Trade, when he recently testified on this legislation before the House District Subcommittee. Congress provided for the same veto procedure in the Executive Reorganization Acts of 1939 and 1945, the constitutionality of which has never been challenged. The validity of this procedure has been upheld in opinions from the Attorney General of the United States, from House and Senate legislative counsel, and from eminent constitutional lawyers.
It is quite possible that a litigant in some case based upon the provisions of a District law adopted under the legislative proposal procedure of this bill might attack the constitutionality of the procedure. A period of uncertainty might ensue, but there exists in the Judicial Code procedure for a rapid resolution of any such question. C'pon the challenge of the constitutionality of such a statute, the Federal Government would be notified and would presumably exercise its right to intervene. If the decision of the lower court were against the validity of the statute, an appeal could be taken directly to the United States Supreme Court (28 U. S. C., secs. 2403 and 1252).
BOND ISSUES MIGHT INCREASE PROPERTY TAXES The third major objection of the Commissioners to the Senate-approved bill is that the burden of financing the bond issues authorized by section 701 of the bill would fall primarily upon the owners of real estate in the District.
My answer to this objection is that section 731 of the bill provides that "the District Council shall apply the proceeds of such taxes and other revenues as may be necessary to pay the principal of and the interest on such bonds * * *." The financing of the bonds is to be a charge upon all the revenues of the District, of which in the fiscal year 1948 property taxes yielded 54 percent. Nothing in the home rule bill would eliminate the revenues now derived from local income, sales, or other tax sources; nor would the bill prevent the Council from submitting to Congress a legislative proposal to increase the revenues of the District from sources other than property taxes in order to finance capital improvements.
My bill provides that the debt of the District shall be limited to not more than 5 percent of the assessed value of the taxable real property in the District. This is a conservative debt limit compared with debt limits in other cities of the United States. Moreover, the bill further provides that the bonds shall be issued only after majority approval in a popular referendum of the voters, which is an added safeguard against extravagant borrowing.
DUAL VOTING PRIVILEGES
The fourth major objection of the Commissioners is "to extending the privilege of voting to those who are not domiciled in the District or who retain voting privileges elsewhere.". They assert that bond issues might be voted by “temporary residents in the District" and paid for by the “permanent residents" (sec. 1206 (b)).
The fundamental error in this objection is the attempt to distinguish between "permanent” and “temporary” residents, between Federal employees and "the people of the District.” This is a false dichotomy. For the reasons given above, Federal employees are "people of the District” as much as anyone else who lives here and has a stake in its government. To suppose that the "genuine” people of the District are a few native sons is a supercilious conceit which is contrary to fact.
The argument that bond issues might be voted by persons here only for a period of years, and paid by the “permanent residents," is based upon the same false assumption that there are two kinds of people in Washington--the floating population and the permanent residents. All the people of the city have a stake in its capital improvements-its schools, hospitals, highways, etc. And all the taxpayers will help pay the carrying charges on such bond issues. Nowhere in the United States is the right to vote on bond issues limited to the so-called "permanent residents” of a community. Mr. GALLOWAY. Thank you, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Dr. Galloway, we are much obliged to you for your testimony.
Mr. GĂLLOWAY. You are welcome, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. If the people of the District are not granted the right of self-government it will not be your fault. Mr. GALLOWAY. Thank you, sir. [Applause.]
The CHAIRMAN. We are going to interrupt the agenda as prepared by the clerk to hear from Senator Smith of Maine. That is always a privilege and a pleasure.
STATEMENT OF HON. MARGARET CHASE SMITH, MEMBER OF THE
UNITED STATES SENATE FROM THE STATE OF MAINE
Senator SMITH. Mr. Chairman, I have had the very great privilege of serving on this District of Columbia Committee last year, under the distinguished chairman, Mr. Neely of West Virginia.
I was a cosponsor, you will remember, of the bill last year, and did my bit toward its passage.
I come here to express my continued support of this measure, hoping very much that we can see that it passes both the House and the Senate in this Eighty-second Congress.
I will continue to do my bit, and I am very pleased to have this opportunity to so express myself. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mrs. Smith. You have been a Joan of Arc in endeavoring to get self-government in the District of Columbia.
Senator SMITH. There is one way that one can learn about the District, and that is to serve on this committee, and it is a privilege that we should all enjoy. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. We regret that you are not with us on this committee any longer. We have wonderful persons on the committee now, but we have never ceased to regret that you found it necessary to leave it.
Senator SMITH. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. The next witness is Mr. Jesse Manbeck, secretary, Central Suffrage Conference, Inc.
STATEMENT OF JESSE B. MANBECK, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY,
CENTRAL SUFFRAGE CONFERENCE, INC.
Mr. MANBECK. Senator, I am going to try to save a little time here, if the committee will so permit, by just reading excerpts, and then giving the stenotypist the complete document.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed as you wish.
I am appearing here today as an American citizen who has resided in the District of Columbia for more than 15 years, continuously.
I am, and have been, for the past 5 years the executive secretary of the Central Suffrage Conference, Inc., of the District of Columbia. I am a past secretary of the District of Columbia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, and a former president of Columbia Typographical Union No. 101, A. F. of L.-America's oldest labor union, now in its one hundred and thirty-sixth year of continuous
existence here in Washington, D. C., the Nation's Capital, and who has supplied a mayor for the city of Washington in 1836, namely Peter Forest.
The Central Suffrage Conference, through its officers, trustees, delegates, and members represents in excess of 400,000 residents of the District of Columbia. It represents all segments of the population, churches, citizens'associations, labor unions, fraternal orders, political clubs, businessmen, professional people, women's organizations—and the home rule headquarters maintained to coordinate the crusade to restore self-government to the Nation's Capital is a subcommittee of our organization.
Unlike the District Commissioners, the Central Suffrage Conference is working hard to bring about home rule in the District and thus eliminate its justification for existence.
We are 100 percent for S. 656.
Unlike the Washington Board of Trade, the Central Suffrage Conference will derive no gain or profit from achieving its objective, and no officer, trustee, or member is paid anything in our nonprofit organization.
For the record, I would like to repeat the statement I made last! week before the Senate District Subcommittee and its District clinic hearing, that the District of Columbia and its residents are the captives of the Washington Board of Trade, whose 8,000 members, paying $25 per year, make it very profitable to oppose self-government here.
No current District Commissioner contributes one cent to the Central Suffrage Conference in support of its program, but you will doubtless find those same District Commissioners holding memberships in the Washington Board of Trade, and thus supporting that organization's program of opposition to District self-government, suffrage, and home rule.
I want also to quote for the record the exact language of the President, James Madison, when the District of Columbia was created :
The indispensable necessity of complete authority at the seat of government carries its own evidence with it. The extent of this Federal District is sufficiently circumscribed to satisfy every jealousy of an opposite nature. And as it is to be appropriated to this use with the consent of the State ceding it:
(a) as the State will no doubt provide in the compact for the rights and the consent of the citizens inhabiting it; as the inhabitants will find sufficient inducements of interest to become willing partners to the cession; as they will have had their voice in the government which is exercising authority over them; as a municipal legislature for local purposes derived from their own suffrages will, of course, be allowed them; and as the authority of the legislature of the State and of the inhabitants of the ceded part of it, to concur in the cession will be derived from the whole people of the State in their adoption of the Constitution, every imaginable objection seems to be
obviated. I am going to conclude; in other words, the American citizens residing in the District of Columbia have for more than 75 years been deprived of their full constitutional rights by act of Congress.
The founding fathers never intended there should be such denial. President Madison, at the time the District was created, publicly assured the then residents of Washington that their own local selfgovernment rights would "be allowed them.”
For 74 years, this was so. The quick passage of S. 656 would restore these rights, as exercised for 74 years.
As a descendant of a chairman of the Liberty Boys of 1776, who helped to supply ammunition and the Pennsylvania rifles used by Gen. George Washington's Army, there could not be a more fitting time to report this bill out favorably for Senate action, so that Washington's birthday this year could also become the birthday of the Americanization of the District of Columbia.
The American citizens of Washington owe an inestimable debt of gratitude to you, Senator Neely, for your splendid work to restore self-government to the American residents in the Nation's Capital. [Applause.]
The CHAIRMAN. The people of the District, if they continue to carry on energetically and enthusiastically until the desired result has been achieved, will have paid me any debt that they ever owed.
Mrs. Gertrude Evans, representing the Progressive Party of the District of Columbia, is recognized.
STATEMENT OF GERTRUDE EVANS, REPRESENTING THE PROGRES
SIVE PARTY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Mrs. Evans. It seems repetitious to go into all these details again. Of course, the Progressive Party, as in the past, supports any effort toward self-government in the District of Columbia.
We think it is a real disgrace, as others who preceded me have pointed out, that we do not have a franchise in the District of Columbia, so we wish to go on record in support of any measure that will help to achieve this end for the voteless citizens of the District.
We feel, of course, as we said in the past, that all the ills and inadequacies in the District are due to the present set-up. The Board of Commissioners do not have any responsibilities to the citizens of the District, so, therefore, the conditions as they exist, and all the evils that we pointed out last week in the clinic which you held, those prevailed.
A very striking example of that appeared in today's Post, which showed the conditions of working mothers, under which they suffer as a result of the abolition of the child day-care centers. That is just one example of conditions here in the District of Columbia.
If the people had the vote, no doubt they would see that we had adequate care and protection for the children of working people. This prevails, of course, these conditions prevail, in schools, and so on, as we said last week.
There are features that we say should be added to any bill, that is, any bill for home rule in the District of Columbia.
We feel that—we are in agreement there should be elected a city council and an elected school board, board of education, rather; the elections, we feel should be held on a precinct basis, and that the city council should have as wide legislative powers as possible.
We would support a movement for the voting age to correspond to the age for military service, 18 years, and we also are in accord with previous speakers who agree that people who vote in the States should vote locally here in the District.