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Democratic Action. On behalf of the thousand members of the Washington Chapter of the Americans for Democratic Action I urge that your subcommittee give early consideration to S. 1527 and that you recommend to the full District of Columbia Committee that it be reported to the House of Representatives. I would like to make it crystal clear that our organization is in favor of home rule for the District of Columbia, and that we have supported and we will continue to support, efforts and legislation designed to give the residents of the District all the rights of self-government that American citizens should have. We think S. 1527 is an excellent beginning, and a necessary beginning, in establishing a good local government democratically controlled through the suffrage of the residents of the District.
The bill you are considering was shaped by the hammer of diligent research, on the anvil of public opinion. It is no hasty legislation evolved by biased special-interest groups. Americans for Democratic Action representatives testified before another subcommittee of the House District Committee, the Home Rule Subcommittee, in the Eightieth Congress and again in 1948, along with 50 or more other organizations of all shades of opinion. The basis of S. 1527 was developed then and incorporated in the Auchincloss bill. We testified again this year before the Senate District Committee, along with other groups. We are happy that several of the suggestions we made, most of which were also sponsored by other groups, in previous testimony have been incorporated in this bill.
I would like to make one major point in this testimony. Earlier I said that this bill was an excellent and necessary beginning on home rule. I know, as I am sure you know, that the District will not have full rights of citizenship until it has full representation in Congress and the right to vote for Presidential elections. We will support national representation for the District; but, and this is important, we will not support national representation as a necessary first step. Since national representation requires an amendment to the Constitution, we know that should Congress pass the necessary legislation for national representation immediately, it would be years and probably decades before the required number of State legislatures ratified it. While we do not like to impugn motives, we strongly suspect that many of those who cry "national representation first” know only too well that it would postpone any suffrage in the District for a long time.
It is within the power of Congress to pass S. 1527 and provide a substantial measure of home rule now. Then we, together with all those who want national representation, will work to that end which would, we agree, bestow the remaining rights of citizenship on the voteless residents of the District.
For your information I would like to add that the attitude of the Washington Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action on Home Rule for the District has been unanimously supported by two national conventions of the Americans for Democratic Action, and our chapters throughout the Nation have enthusiastically helped us in our efforts to this end.
In conclusion, I wish to urgently recommend that you give the full House District Committee and the House of Representatives a chance to vote on this bill. The Senate passed it by a voice vote.
We are confident that the House would adopt it by a substantial majority. We hope you will give them the opportunity for decision.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you, Mr. Van Arkel. We are glad to have your statement from the Washington Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action.
The CHAIRMAN. Where are you from?
Mr. ALLEN of California. Mr. Van Arkel, do you have any objection to the changes proposed by Dr. Corning?
Mr. VAN ARKEL. I feel there is nothing in it basically which would not be taken care of with express appropriate amendments, with the one exception that we start out with the basic premise that we are interested in democratic rights for citizens of the District, and we feel the citizens of the District are the same as citizens throughout the United States and that they should elect officers who would be held accountable.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not think we have any question about that. We think the people of the District of Columbia are as intelligent as any people anywhere in the United States.
Mr. VAN ARKEL. I think no constitutional question has been raised here, Congressman, in considering this bill. We did give very careful consideration to any possible constitutional questions that might arise. I think here is not the slightest doubt on the part of anyone that the provisions of the present bill as now drafted are entirely within the provisions of article I of the Constitution.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you think this bill will give home rule and will do justice?
Mr. VAN ARKEL. Well, I think it is the necessary first step, Congressman. The position of Americans for Democratic Action, of course, has been for the support of national representation, but as I pointed out in my statement here, we feel that those who insist on national representation necessarily preceding home rule are basically opposed to home rule; because it is self-evident that putting through a constitutional amendment and getting ratification of the required number of States will take many years. These matters are separable and we urge Congress to give us a limited form of home rule which is possible at the present time, with the hope that once we achieve that, we will be in a better position to work for national representation.
Mr. ALLEN of California. That is what I had in mind when asking you the question in regard to the Kefauver bill, that your organization approves of the philosophy of home rule rather than that you have the technical knowledge; and that you have made the study to determine whether the provisions of this bill are applicable to the District citizens.
Mr. VAN ARKEL. Congressman, I did have some part or worked on the preliminary draft of this bill, which was considerably revised in the interim. În working with that draft we tried very hard to take into account suggestions made when the Auchincloss bill was before the committee the past year. The matter Dr. Corning presented this
morning for the most part is a brand new method which has not been previously presented, so far as I know, to any committee of Congress or of the Senate. So, because of the rather consolidated form in which these matters are now presented to you, obviously it was impossible for us to consider them previously. I don't say that in criticism of Dr. Corning's statement. Some of them may have considerable merit. I am sure we would have no objection to the changes proposed.
I take it that it is the philosophy of everyone that if imperfections are developed after passage, that Congress does retain the right to make changes and we as citizens would present to Congress our views for necessary changes.
Mr. ALLEN of California. Did you also have a part in drafting the Kefauver bill?
Mr. VAN ARKEL. It happens, Congressman, that I am also secretary of the Democratic Central Committee of the District of Columbia and I participated in my capacity as a member of the subcommittee of the Democratic Central Committee of the District of Columbia, rather than as a representative of Americans for Democratic Action.
The CHAIRMAN. What experience has your committee had with municipal government?
Mr. VAN ARKEL. Do you mean the Central Committee's experience with municipal government?
The CHAIRMAN. I wondered how you were able to draw up a
Mr. VAN ARKEL. I would like to stress, Congressman, that this is not a matter of our sole view. This matter, as you know, has been before Congress for many years.
Drafts have been made; they have been criticized and changed in the light of those criticisms. I think the point has been reached where reasonable men must adjust their differences on matters of this kind and say, "This is the best bill that can now be achieved, to attain the objective of giving rights to citizens of the District.”
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you very much.
Mr. BEAVERS. Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a brief comment. My name is Joseph A. Beavers and I am business agent of Local 209, Cooks, Pastry Cooks, and Kitchen Employees, Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders, International Unio of the American Federation of Labor.
Mr. HARRIS. We had you scheduled to speak.
STATEMENT OF JOSEPH A. BEAVERS, BUSINESS AGENT, LOCAL
209, COOKS, PASTRY COOKS, AND KITCHEN EMPLOYEES, HOTEL AND RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES AND BARTENDERS, INTERNATIONAL UNION, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR
Mr. BEAVERS. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee: First, I should like to state unequivocally my position and the position of the 1,500 organized workers I represent, who work and live in the District of Columbia. We want suffrage.
In my judgment, for years the Congress of the United State has played politics with local suffrage bills, using them only as political footballs.
We are appearing here in support of Senate bill 1365, known as the Kefauver bill.
The Cooks, Pastry Cooks, and Kitchen Employees, Local 209, since its inception in 1942 has actively participated in most of the campaigns in the city for both home rule and national representation, and testified at congressional hearings in support of suffrage. We have always pointed out that the denial of suffrage to the citizens of Washington is responsible for the inefficiency of the present government. It is only by having officials responsible to the will of the people that we can have an efficient government.
This analysis was stated very eloquently by the Honorable Senator Morse on May 12, 1949, in his argument against the sales tax. I quote the Congressional Record :
We talk about discrimination in this country based upon race, color, and creed. We ought to be talking about civil rights in regard to the right of the citizens of the District of Columbia to vote. We are denying them what I think is a precious civil right because of the discriminatory policy which the Congress of the United States has held toward them. In the last analysis the Congress is the city Council of the District of Columbia. But we happen to be in the position of a city council that cannot be held to responsibility by the citizens for whom it acts, because we have not had the courage and the foresight and the statesmanship in the years gone by to give to the citizens of the District of Columbia the elective franchise which every American ought to enjoy.
The Senator further stated:
So I close this point by saying that to me the $64 answer to the $64 question in this debate is, what would the residents of the District of Columbia do with this proposal if we should let them exercise the referendum? It's unquestionable they would vote “no” by an overwhelming majority. In my State this type of taxation has been tried four times and the people of my State defeated it the last time three to one; if it is tried again, we will defeat it again.
This is even more clearly observed by the absence of actions for the general welfare of the people by the Board of Commissioners and the conditions that exist in our city. We recall the sad record of the Commissioners in dealing with the strike against the hotels in 1946. This is what the Washington Post said editorially about their proposals:
The Commissioners were coming to the rescue. And who was to be rescued? Why the hotel association, not the 5,000 workers on strike with public support.
No action has been taken on very pertinent and important issues which have repeatedly been brought to the attention of the Board of Commissioners by delegations of citizens, press, radio, and other methods of public expression.
Among conditions that need immediate correction which have been ignored by the Commissioners are the high cost of living, labor problems, slum clearance, and general health. The abolition of segregation and discrimination in the supposedly world arsenal of democracy is not the concern of the Commissioners, yet segregation subjugates and relegates one-third of the city's population to secondclass citizenship. This is not only a local disgrace, but national and international travesty on justice. Not only have the Commissioners not done anything about these conditions, but in my opinion they bear a heavy share of responsibility for the maintenance of segregation in the city. The representative of the Board of Commissioners on the Board of Recreation has voted consistently for maintaining segregation. The Metropolitan Police Department, which is under the
Commissioners has arrested primarily Negroes and their white friends who sought to use the pools, and left the provokers of strife at the pools untouched.
The District Commissioners were very instrumental in the fight for-not against, mind you—the sales tax, and are now crying to us taxpayers and citizens come August 1: This sales tax will be good for you. Just swallow it. I say to you categorically: There are countless persons who are not going to like the taste of that medicine, because a large portion of the people, not only those whom I represent, are people whose salaries are in the low brackets and cannot afford extra pennies for the sales tax.
The utilities in the District always have the support of the Commissioners, as seen in the past increases in fares granted to the Capital Transit Co.
I could go on and cite the mismanagement by the Board of Commissioners, their ruling this city without heeding the voice of the common people. These points have been made repeatedly in the almost yearly hearings held on suffrage. Everything is known as to why the citizens of Washington should be given the basic American right to vote. I therefore will not go on citing the facts. They are known by this committee. I only want to state as emphatically as I can: Washington needs suffrage. Congress ought to give us the right to vote. I want to urge the committee to report out to the House of Representatives the bill passed by the Senate, S. 1365, which will grant us the right to vote.
This session of Congress has an opportunity to correct a longstanding injustice and we strongly urge you: Restore to the citizens of Washington the vote. The time for action is now. We feel that suffrage is something that is long overdue.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you.
We also have Mr. Harry N. Peterson of the Public Library. Do you care to make a statement?
Mr. PETERSON. Mr. Chairman, I am from the Public Library and I should appreciate it if you would schedule me for another public hearing, in that I am speaking for the Board of Trustees.
Mr. HARRIS. How long would it take?
We have one witness left, Mrs. Samuel B. Brown, of the Washingtion section, National Council of Jewish Women. Is Mrs. Brown present?
Mrs. ZESKING. Mr. Chairman, I would like to present a statement of Mrs. Brown.
Mr. HARRIS. You are appearing for Mrs. Brown?
Mr. HARRIS. You are appearing for her and submitting her statement in her behalf?
Mrs. ZESKING. No; she just asked me to submit the statement.