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Mr. SCHNEEBELI. Thank you very much.
Mrs. GRIFFITHS. Thank you very much for your very thoughtful testimony.
Congressman Barber Conable of New York.
STATEMENT OF HON. BARBER B. CONABLE, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE
FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. CONABLE. Thank you, Madam Chairman, and members of the committee.
In view of the lateness of the hour, I shall be mercifully brief.
I do not appear today to urge approval of any special technical suggestions for recapturing our sense of priority and balance here in Congress.
I have sponsored the Findley proposal, House Resolution 141, as a possible mechanism for doing this. I commend it to your attention, but I am not unalterably bound to any single solution.
The members of this committee are more experienced than I, and I am encouraged by the quality of earnestness which has characterized your labors to date.
I know that you approach this subject with every intention of using your experience in deliberate and realistic ways. I wish only to emphasize the sense of urgency many of us among your colleagues feel at this time. We have passed the point of no return.
Unless you can give us a plan which will essentially reform our budgetary processes to permit us to put it all together, Congress will cease being merely ineffective and will become a national laughing stock.
This issue is sharpened, of course, by the daily confrontations, reported in the press between Congress and the President on a constitutional, institutional, and political level. But as in other confrontations, the underlying significant dispute is one of policy.
Congress can express its policy views effectively only by its overall view of the relative importance with all the other unmet needs afflicting our complex society. Unless we do more than identify those needs year after year, it is inevitable that the real priorities of Government will be established in the only other part of the Government capable of relative judgment, namely the executive branch.
The establishment of priorities as a Government function is not properly vested there, but it must be done somewhere and if we fail to do it ourselves, the President ultimately has no choice but to assign comparative importance to the various programs we have asked him to administer. He is required to do this, using the limited resources which we also provided him.
In short, I do not view this issue so much as a struggle between the Executive and the legislative, as I do the more basic question of whether the legislative branch will perform its particular responsibility in Government. We cannot continue to ignore the overall impact of the separate program actions we take.
I realize that you are struggling only with the development of a mechanism for putting it all together. The best techniques in the world cannot make an effective governmental agency out of an institution that does not have the will to govern.
I personally think the American people want the Congress to be an important part of the Government, and once you have devised a technique for the improving of our priority setting function, I believe the American people will insist upon our using it. It will be more difficult to avoid the tough decisions of Government once the work of your committee has underscored the necessity of our doing more than considering each program in a vacuum.
Unless you are successful in promoting such an overall approach, I can see only a continuing erosion of our institutional capacity to function as an effective part of the Government, a further atrophy of our governmental muscle and an increasing reliance on the executive branch as the real priority setter, however much we may disagree with the priorities it sets.
I wish to lend my encouragement to your work, to pledge my support to a reasonable mechanism for the establishment of legislative priorities and to repeat my feeling that this is the most urgent business Congress can undertake in terms of institutional reform.
I think that is an excellent analysis of the exact problem and is a very thoughtful, well-considered statement.
Do you have some questions?
Mr. Davis. Somewhat different than the previous New York opinion that we received on these matters.
Mr. CONABLE. New York is a diverse State. There are many viewpoints there. We are proud of our diversity, among other things.
Mr. Davis. I think it is a good pinpointing statement and very realistic.
Mr. SCHNEEBELI. I agree with you wholeheartedly that we passed the point of no return. I am amazed at the cynics in Congress who say we have been up this road before but we failed, and after experiencing futility also, we will come to the same conclusion. We can't possibly come to the same conclusion.
I don't look forward to the day when I have to write my constituents and say that unfortunately we couldn't control our expenditures. The cynics who persist in this attitude certainly don't have the right concept of what the public demands.
I think you underscored this very properly as you always do. Mr. CONABLE. We can't afford cynicism at this time. This is too serious an issue. My purpose in coming here today was to encourage you with your work. Mr. SCHNEEBELI. I agree wholeheartedly.
Mrs. Griffiths. That is wonderful. The real proof is that the problem 25 years ago was not the acute problem it is today.
They began with a situation that was totally unwieldy. I understand they had more than 100 members of the committee, which would have been almost a quarter of Congress working on it. They didn't have a chance when they began. But they didn't have the pressing problems and they didn't have the backing of really the rest of the country.
I think the country is demanding it. Mr. CONABLE. Madam Chairman, I think the urgency of this is the result of the proliferation of programs we have. We have so many programs that it is virtually impossible for the individual Congressmen to assign any relative importance to them. They are all addressed to worthy purposes. .
I commend to your attention the valedictory press conference of Elliot Richardson when he left HEW. It was a fascinating discussion of what is wrong and what an overpowering necessity we face for putting it all together somehow. Otherwise, we will continue to identify national needs, propose a program for dealing with them and then thereafter demonstrate our lack of capacity to assign it any relative scale of importance with respect to all those myriad other programs that we have to consider.
Mrs. GRIFFITHS. Nothing exemplifies this better than the welfare study we are engaged it.
Mr. CONABLE. I think that is very important, too, what you are doing on that.
Mrs. GRIFFITHS. Ten different committees are passing out welfare. They don't call it that. They call it rehousing America, giving pensions to veterans, doing this and that, getting rid of our slums.
In truth, it is all welfare. It is now the largest expenditure of Federal Government.
Thank you very much.
IMPROVING CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET CONTROL
FRIDAY, MARCH 9, 1973
Washington, D.C. The Joint Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room 1114, the Dirksen Building, Hon. Jamie L. Whitten presiding.
Present: Representatives Whitten (presiding), Davis, and Senator Fulbright.
Chairman WHITTEN. The committee will come to order. We have first today, a longtime public servant of both sides of the Congress, the Senate and the House, one of our outstanding Members, Claude Pepper, of Florida. We are proud to have you appear. STATEMENT OF HON. CLAUDE PEPPER, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE
FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Mr. PEPPER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I am grateful for the opportunity to appear here before you this morning on this very critical matter with which you are concerned, and which confronts our country today. It is a subject that reminds me of something attributed to the distinguished Senator after whom this building is named, the distinguished Senator from Illinois, Mr. Dirksen.
They tell the story that on one occasion Senator Dirksen in Illinois had a big button on his coat lapel that had the letters "IAK” and some fellow addressing the Senator one day at a public meeting said, "Senator, what is that button you have there with those letters ‘IAK' on it?" and Senator Dirksen replied, “That means I am confused," and the man looked at the Senator and studied it a minute, and said, “You don't spell confused with a K," and he said "That is how confused I am.”
I think contrary to what appears to have been the expression of some of the scholars who perhaps testified before this committee recently, that there is a constitutional crisis involved in this controversy.
I have been looking back lately over various materials from the Library of Congress having to do with the fashioning of our Constitution and I can't find anywhere in any of the papers relative to that historic event where there was any controversy or serious debate over what the role of the Executive was to be in carrying out the laws of the Congress.
Imagine the shock that would have come to those men who were framing the Constitution if somebody had raised the possibility that in spite of their providing that all of the legislative power, not part of it, was invested in the legislature and the Executive power invested in the President, that the President could elect to determine what laws he would carry out, the degree to which we would execute the laws enacted by the Congress, the manner in which he would do it and the like, and the instances in which he would totally terminate or repudiate the laws enacted by the Congress, some of which he signed and consummated into law.
The references are very meager. They simply say, of course, the Executive's duty would be to carry out the law and they made it very clear in at least three instances in the constitution. In article II, they said the Executive power should be invested in the President of the United States. It is easy to see the Executive's power: to execute, carry out, administer, discharge, not determine what the laws should be. He does that in another capacity, by making recommendations as to what the content of the law that he shall execute shall be.
The next thing in the Constitution is the taking of the oath of the President. It is well to remind ourselves that the constitutional oath required to be taken by the President is that, I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will faithfully—not with mental reservations, not with ambiguity, not with duplicity, not with deceptiveness, not in a way to hamstring the authority of the Congress—I will faithfully, in good faith, with good faith, honestly, execute the laws enacted by the Congress, as construed by the Court.
Senator FULBRIGHT. And support the Constitution too, isn't it?
And the next thing to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the constitution. And a part of that Constitution, of course, is all legislative powers shall be invested in the Congress of the United States.
Now the President takes that oath when he enters upon the performance of his duty. The President that we have recently took such an oath. He didn't tell the people in his inauguration address here in front of the Capitol in January, "Fellow Americans: I want you to know that while I am taking this oath, Mr. Chief Justice, I have some serious reservations about some aspects of this matter. And I want to tell all of you right now before I complete this oath, I am not going to do all of these things that Congress said."
There would have been consternation among all of the people of the country: "What is the matter with the President; we never heard this before."
Now, in section III of article II, it refers to the President: he shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the Union and recommend to their consideration measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.
That is the constitutional provision under which the President may recommend to the Congress legislation that the body that has all legislative authority shall promulgate.
He has ample opportunity, therefore, to advise with the Congress, to argue with them, either directly, personally, or to appeal over their heads to public opinion or to send them a formal recommendation as to what the contents of legislation should be.
But there it seems to me his authority ends, because a little later, in section III of article II, come these most significant words, "he shall