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STATEMENT OF PAUL MATTHEWS, IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT,
JUNIOR CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Mr. MATTHEWS. Mr. Chairman, I am Paul Matthews, immediate past president of the Washington Junior Chamber of Commerce, and director-in-charge of its governmental affairs committee. Our organization consists of approximately 800 young business and professional men between the ages of 21 and 36 years, employed or doing business in the District of Columbia. You are all aware, from the local Junior Chamber of Commerce activities in your own communities, or the purposes and objectives of our organization.
As a representative civic organization, we feel obligated to express the views of our membership on the vital issue now before your committee, namely home rule for the District of Columbia. In order to give our membership an opportunity to express its opinion on this issue a poll was conducted when Senator Kefauver introduced S. 1527 in the last Congress.
Of the ballots mailed, we received a response from approximately 40 percent of the total membership.
The CHAIRMAN. Was that about 300 ?
1. Do you favor the principle of home rule for the District of Columbia with national representation ?
2. Do you favor the principle of home rule for the District of Columbia without national representation?
3. Do you favor representation in Congress for the District of Columbia ?
On the first question, concerning home rule with national representation, 68 percent voted “yes” and 32 percent voted “no."
On the second question, concerning home rule without national representation, 24 percent voted “yes” and 76 percent voted “no."
On the third question, concerning only national representation, 80 percent voted “yes” and 20 percent voted “no."
From these results it may be concluded the membership of the Junior Chamber of Commerce primarily and overwhelmingly desires national representation. Secondly, if home rule is to be granted to the District of Columbia, national representation should precede or accompany the adoption of any home rule form of government. And thirdly, home rule by itself is definitely opposed by the membership.
The CHAIRMAN. Is that because they think the people of the District have not enough sense or patriotism to govern themselves?
Mr. MATTHEWS. I think they have enough of both. But I think they should have a true home-rule bill. If the people in Congress, our Senators and Congressmen, are the ones who eventually pass on our bills, I think they should have representation in Congress.
The CHAIRMAN. I concur in that opinion. But you cannot get both home rule and congressional representation by means of a single bill or resolution.
Mr. MATTHEWS. I would like to make this statement: We are a group of people who have devoted as much energy toward civic affairs in the District of Columbia as any, bar none, the Federation of Citizens' Associations, and so forth.
We went to the extent last year, and we have done it before, to get our national organization to pass a resolution which they did, in which they would favor national representation for the District of Columbia. We think that that is a beginning. We went so far as to write all local chapters in the United States asking them to please write their Congressmen and Senators for the specific purpose of trying to get some sort of a constitutional amendment added, so we could precede this and get a true home-rule bill in where we could have it all.
The CHAIRMAN. That was commendable. But to oppose home rule simply because you cannot obtain national representation at the same time will, in my opinion, serve no good purpose. Mr. MATTHEWS. We all have our opposing views, Senator.
The CHAIRMAN. And I certainly have no objection to your having yours. Mr. MATTHEWS. Thank you.
In conclusion, the membership of the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Washington, D. C., has indicated by an overwhelming majority that national representation is the primary consideration in approaching the question of suffrage for the District of Columbia.
The CHAIRMAN. Miss Edith Back, representing the Home Rule for Washington Chapter of the American Veterans Committee is recognized. .. STATEMENT OF EDITH B. BACK, REPRESENTING THE HOME
RULE FOR WASHINGTON CHAPTER, AMERICAN VETERANS COMMITTEE
Miss Back. My name is Edith B. Back. I represent the American Veterans Committee, through its Home Rule for Washington Chapter, and I am testifying in favor of the Kefauver-Taft bill.
The CHAIRMAN. You say you are in favor of the bill ?
Miss Back. Yes; I am testifying in favor of the Kefauver-Taft bill, and I represent the American Veterans Committee, through the Home Rule for Washington Chapter.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you mind telling us the membership of the chapter? • Miss BACK. I am here representing the national organization through the Home Rule Chapter, which has been authorized to speak for the national. I am not sure of the recent figures. We are just preparing for a new convention. However, the only figure I can quote is the World Almanac, which lists 35,000 this year. We are compiling the new figures for the new convention, which are not published yet.
The CHAIRMAN. Thirty-five thousand in the United States?
The CHAIRMAN. You do not know what the number of members is in the District of Columbia ?
Miss BACK. Approximately 1,000 in the Washington area.
· The CHAIRMAN. Do you know the membership of the American Legion in the District ?
Miss Back. I do not know the American Legion membership. · The CHAIRMAN. Do you know whether any of your members are members of the American Legion ?
Miss BACK. No, they are not, I feel quite sure. It is not necessary to convince you distinguished gentlemen of the value of self-government, inasmuch as it is the foundation of this democracy.
The CHAIRMAN. I would not think it necessary to convince anyone who had the slightest desire that the American way of life should prevail in the Capital of the greatest Nation in the world.
Miss BACK. Wherever our troops went during World War II and liberated areas, one of the prime objectives was the establishment of self-government. Our leaders believed that by doing this, we could teach the ways of democracy. If self-government is a prerequisite of a democratic society, what excuse can our Government have for ignoring the citizens of the District of Columbia ?
Now, after 5 years, as we approach another crisis, the veteran is still denied at home rights and privileges that he has given the peoples of other countries.
The present conflict is being fought not only with guns, but with ideas between totalitarian governments and self-governing peoples, and the only way to develop a program with which to challenge the expansion of communism is to correct the flaws in our democratic structure. One of the most glaring flaws in this structure is the lack of the vote for citizens of the Nation's Capital.
We veterans are looking to our Congress to pass legislation that will assure the residents of Washington that America recognizes them as full-fledged citizens and that the right to participate in local government will be guaranteed by the United States Government. Is it healthy, gentlemen, for us, as a Nation, to have, under our democratic form of government, citizens who have become apathetic under the gross injustice and denial even of the rudimentary opportunity to vote for local representatives? The American Veterans' Committee, however, is continuing its fight for local self-government and the rights given to us by the founding fathers.
We of the American Veterans Committee, Home Rule for Washington Chapter, put self-government above the high cost of living and other major issues of the day. I must emphasize that the current agitation for self-government is no longer a mere expression of hope. On one hand, there is a positive determination for full citizenship, and on the other hand, an equally determined will to acquiesce to nothing else. The members of the American Veterans Committee demand local self-government in Washington, and our willingness to serve our community is evidenced in our creed: "Citizens first, veterans second.”
We are living today in a sorely distorted world in which grave and complex dangers threaten us. Our safety and well-being depend upon the morale of all the citizens in all the communities of our country. Many men and women gave their lives in the last war for a principle that does not exist in the District of Columbia. The veterans of Wash
ington are loyal citizens, capable of participating in a democratic form of government. These are only a few of the many reasons why we should be allowed to participate fully in the administration of our community.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. Miss BACK. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. At this point there will be inserted in the record a statement sent me by Mr. Glenn E. Watts, executive secretary of the CIO Industrial Council for the District of Columbia, and also a telegram from Mr. Nathan E. Cowan, director of the CIO legislative department.
Both the statement and the telegram vigorously endorse the bill that is now before the committee.
(The letter and telegram referred to are as follows:)
STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE WASHINGTON, D. C., INDUSTRIAL UNION COUNCIL,
CIO, BY GLENN E. WATTS, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY The Washington, D. C., CIO Industrial Union Council wishes to express its appreciation for the opportunity to present our general views in support of the principle of home rule and reorganization of the government of the District of Columbia.
The manner in which recent proposals for home rule for the District of Columbia have been prepared particularly the bill passed by the Senate last year, has greatly lightened the burden of our testimony before you today. The exhaustive testimony and information developed on this subject over the last few years justifies our endorsement of S. 656.
We wish particularly to express approval of the 11 guiding principles enunciated on pages 3 and 4 of the second report of the House subcommittee of the Eightieth Congress. These principles, setting forth the basic guides for establishing a satisfactory system of home rule in the District, along with an efficient governmental machinery, appear to us to encompass the fundamental considerations which the Congress should have before it in passing upon this legislation. We do not intend to elaborate on these principles. However, we do wish to comment, briefly, on several basic matters.
In light of the solemn pledge of both major political parties, in the form of their platform commitments to the American people, we doubt that it is necessary to argue at any length that the residents of the District should be granted home rule.
We know of no sound argument to justify depriving any community of nearly a million people of the fundamental democratic right and privilege of selecting their local officials. The population of the District exceeds that of a large number of States. A country which has taken the lead in promulgating the Atlantic Charter; a country which has recently passed through the holocaust of a world war to preserve and establish elementary freedoms; a country in the process of defending those freedoms and which has made a monumental financial effort to save democracy in Europe, can scarcely deny to its citizens, in its own Capital City, the right of self-government. Surely, it cannot be said that the residents of the District are not capable of such responsibility. Those who would say so, should have the burden of proving it—and we are not aware of any who have openly assumed or effectively discharged such burden.
There are, in addition, what may be considered more practical grounds for ignoring any sentiment which is adverse to home rule. We believe that for Congress to spend so great a portion of its time on strictly municipal affairs of the District, is positively discriminatory against the rest of the people of this country. The Congress is a National Legislature, set up to deal with the problems of all the people on a national basis. When Congress spends so great a proportion of its time as has been required for the conduct of District affairs, it must, obviously, take time away from far more pressing affairs that affect both the Nation and the world. We suggest, if we may be so bold, that the Congress is even remiss in its duties if it continues to fiddle with the municipal
affairs of the District while there are burning questions of national and international import which demand its full attention.
It is our opinion, consequently, that the basic question for the Congress is not, should there be home rule for the District, but what kind of local government should be set up which best incorporates this idea, within constitutional limitations. We believe the proposed bill meets the fundamental objectives of home rule satisfactorily. Although consideration by the Congress may produce changes in details, we earnestly hope that there will be no reduction in the degree of home rule proposed in the pending bill.
In conclusion we wish to state that public debate seems to have already taken place; that the advocates of home rule seem to be in the majority and that only the vote need be taken. We shall do all in our power to support this bill and earnestly solicit the Congress to pass it.
District of Columbia Industrial Union Council, CIO: Home rule for the District of Columbia has been advocated by National CIO for many years. No valid reason exists for relegating residents of the District to the status of second-class citizens. It is indefensible that persons residing in the world's focal point of representative government should themselves be denied the right to self-government. The health, safety, and welfare of District residents require the most efficient municipal organization possible. This can be attained only through the efforts of a self-governing people constantly aware of, and vitally concerned with, the manifold problems confronting the community. The Congress of Industrial Organizations fully supports S. 656. Please introduce this message into the record at the conclusion of your own testimony before the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia. .
NATHAN E. COWAN,
Director, CIO Legislative Department. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Elmer Henderson, director, American Council on Human Rights is recognized.
STATEMENT OF ELMER W. HENDERSON, DIRECTOR, AMERICAN
COUNCIL ON HUMAN RIGHTS Mr. HENDERSON. Mr. Chairman, my name is Elmer W. Henderson, director of the American Council on Human Rights.
Our organization is a national one. We have a local chapter in the city with approximately 1,500 members. It is made up of seven national fraternities, and sororities, with both undergraduates and alumni chapters on college campuses, and in cities throughout the country.
By action of our national body, and also by action of our local body, we fully support and endorse the home-rule bill for the District of Columbia.
We ask that you, as chairman, and we ask this committee to exert your full influence, such as you did in the last Congress of the United States, to attempt to have this bill again pass the Senate. I thought it was a very fine thing on the part of the Senate last year to overcome the very strong objections from some quarters to adopt this bill into law, and we have recognized that unfortunately the main bottleneck to the passage of this legislation is in the District of Columbia Committee of the House of Representatives.
Now that is not a matter that probably should be discussed here. The CHAIRMAN. No.