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- and particularly when you eliminate the safety check of confirmation. Then you are asking for it," as they say.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me ask this question, if you have finished: What is there in this plan, what can you point to in the plan that assures that there will not be political consultations in selecting one of the three eligibles as postmaster? How will it be any different from what it is right now? Mr. LAWTON. In the plan? The CHAIRMAN. Yes. Mr. LAWTON. Of course, there is nothing on that subject, because political consultations, to whatever extent they exist, are not any requirement of existing law, except as they deal with the question of confirmation.
The CHAIRMAN. That is the very point I am getting at. This plan does absolutely nothing to remove political considerations. So far as anything in the plan, or any provision or interpretation is concerned, it does not remove political considerations in making the appointment.
Mr. LAWTON. Except as the civil service laws apply and in adherence to those.
The CHAIRMAN. The civil services laws will not be changed at all in reference to postmasters. It is just a method of appointment that is being changed. You have the same civil-service qualifications, the same civil-service processing, the same consideration by the Civil Service Commission under the plan, that you have now, with the Postmaster General selecting one of the three highest.
Is that not so?
The CHAIRMAN. It is just the same as it is now. The only difference there would be is that now these political consultations can be checked—to know who is consulted and how he is arriving at his decision on political considerations. But when you remove the confirmation, then you take from the elected representatives of the people the power to check against those political considerations to see whether they are wholesome, whether they are vindictive, whether they are an exercise of favoritism, whether selection is made to punish some Member of Congress or some Member of the Senate who does not necessarily follow the party line. And the elected representatives of the people in Government–the House and the Senate—have no check against it. It can be practiced openly and flagrantly, and they can do nothing about it.
Mr. LAWTON. The only thing that I can say specifically to that is that presently, through customs, there have been these types of political considerations, these political checks, political clearances. They are the accepted thing. They are the usual. They have been going on for years.
With this change, it seems to me that the Postmaster General would be flying rather completely in the face of both congressional action, resulting from the approval of this plan, and of the civil service laws, if he continued political clearances of that sort.
Now, I do not mean by that that if the person who is best acquainted with the man happens to be a person who is a Member of the House or a Member of the Senate, if that person knows the man, knows his qualifications, he cannot express his viewpoint to the Postmaster General. He can do that with respect to anybody. He can do it with
respect to people in private employment. He can do it with respect to any other type of civil service position, if he is qualified to advise · on the ability of the individual.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, here is what it actually does. Presently, at least, the party in power having the responsibility for administration of the executive branch of the Government naturally has the appointing power and the responsibility for making good appointments. But there is a check against it now by Senate confirmation which keeps those political considerations a bit more wholesome than they would be, or, at least, than they could be. If we take away from the elected representatives of the people any power to check or to veto in case of flagrant actions or arbitrary appointments, made perhaps with a political motive, or with some intent to discredit them, or to make more difficult their problems in their own communities, by appointing someone who is unfriendly to them and who would undertake to pursue policies that would probably be adverse to them, you are simply taking government further away from the elected representatives of the people. Now, that can be done. There is no question about that possibility. And I say to you frankly, it is done now at the highest level although not necessarily in the Post Office Department. I know of cases where that is true.
So it is nonsense to talk about removing politics from these appointments. We are not removing politics. The politics are being retained. We are only shifting them back beyond the reach of, beyond any control by, beyond any check by, beyond any supervision of, the elected representatives, and beyond their ability to put any brake upon such practices and stop them. You never will take politics out of this Government.
Mr. LAWTON. Well, of course, that is a point, obviously, since it is not statutory and not required, that we can't deal with by reorganization plan.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand. I do not know, if you can go as far as you have here. You are dealing with it to the extent of— Mr. LAWTON. I am talking about political consultation.'
The CHAIRMAN. You are going to always have it in this plan or any other.
The only difference is now that you are just simply taking Government farther away from the people and concentrating the power behind an iron curtain where the legislative branch of the Government cannot make a proper or adequate check to determine whether the services are being performed impartially and on a basis of merit, instead of to effectuate other purposes.
That is the way I see it. And it is not because I want patronage. I do not have any. I trust I do not need any. But I do have a responsibility. And I think the responsibility of a Senate confirmation is a proper check and safeguard so as to balance the powers of the executive and the legislative.
I do not ask you for your personal opinion. I trust that in the. quiet meditation of your own counsel you will agree with me.
Senator DWORSHAK. Mr. Lawton, is it not possible for you to visualize some postmaster general with political ambitions having an opportunity to build up a huge political machine if he were to have this almost unlimited power that Reorganization Plan No. 2 would give him over the postmasters of the country?
What restraint would there be ? .
Senator DWORSHAK. What restraints would there be to prevent that? :
Mr. LAWTON. I don't think the present Postmaster General has any great political machine.
Senator DWORSHAK. Oh, well, now, that is fine. But he may not be in office forever. We had him as a witness this morning, and as I have already indicated I have a high regard for his ability. Yet he is subject to certain political influence from his chief and from others. And after he leaves office, is it not possible to have some Postmaster General belonging to the same party or to another party who might be ambitious to build up this huge political machine? Just think what the possibilities are. Or do you not think that is in the picture at all?
Mr. LAWTON. Well, I think that he would run a little counter to the Hatch Act in that attempt. And I think civil service has been rather jealous of that.
The CHAIRMAN. The Department heads are not under the Hatch Act, are they? Mr. LAWTON. No, but the postmasters are, or would be.
The CHAIRMAN. The Postmaster General is not. You would not say the Postmaster General is, would you?
Mr. LAWTON. No; but the postmasters would be, and a Postmaster General certainly is not going to run a machine of that size.
The CHAIRMAN. The postmasters are under the Hatch Act now. They are civil service. This would not make any change.
Mr. LAWTON. Well, certainly if you consider that that is an opportunity for the political machine, what about the Secretary of Defense, who has twice as many people ?
The CHAIRMAN. Well, those promotions, after you get up so high, have to be confirmed by the Senate. I wonder when we are going to have to leave the military free—when are you going to say,.“Let's take politics out of it"? Mr. LAWTON. I am talking about civilian employees.
The CHAIRMAN. I am talking about politics in the military. I do not know how far this is going. It seems to me that there is a pretty steady pattern. There are some who are wholly innocent of it, and I respect their views about it. They believe that we are actually doing something here to take politics out of this thing. But we are not. We are actually making it easier for shenanigans to exist concealed rather than disclosed, as there is some opportunity to do now.
Mr. LAWTON. But actually what we are talking about is less than half of a percent.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, just a little rotten spot on an apple will grow, you know, in time. Mr. LAWTON. The rest are under civil service. The CHAIRMAN. Just one other question, now.
I assume you are familiar with the testimony given by former President Hoover regarding these plans, the first seven plans that were submitted under the Reorganization Act. At that time, speaking
of plan No. 3 of 1949, reorganizing the Post Office Department, he stated before this committee, that
The President's plan No. 3 relates to the Post Office. Again, it is a preliminary step going as far as the President's authority under the Reorganization Act of 1949 permits.
He took that position then. And later on-he said:
I have been advised by all of our legal friends that it would be utterly impossible, for instance, to reorganize the Post Office or the armed services, or to provide a new accounting or budgeting system and a new personnel system in the Government without special legislation by the Congress.
Now, that is the view Mr. Hoover took; that in plan No. 3 of 1949 the President had gone as far as his authority would permit, to reorganize the Post Office Department, and that that was just the first step.
That is one of the reasons why I am especially anxious about these new plans. I am also concerned about the fact that they, particularly the marshal's plan, create the same office, with the same functions, for an indefinite term, whereas the statute now fixes it at a 4-year term.
That office, it is true, is abolished. But that would be to me a subterfuge if the Congress said, as it did in the Reorganization Act, that no reorganization plan shall provide for increasing the term of any office beyond that provided by law for such office.
Well, now, you could not, under the Reorganization Act-I mean under the present law-send down a plan which simply provided that hereafter the term of marshal, instead of being a 4-year term, will be for an indefinite term. I believe you will agree that you could not do that. But, by abolishing the office and recreating the same office in a reorganization plan, you now contend that you can make the term of office indefinite.
Now, that, to me, would be pretty much of a subterfuge to get around this Reorganization Act—and that is why I am very anxious to have the opinion of the Attorney General on it-unless Congress wants to ignore what it specifically provided. In my opinion, Congress did not have in mind that its expressed intentions could be circumvented by this sort of a process. | Any other questions?
We thank you very much, Mr. Lawton. We are glad to have had this help from you, and I hope you can give us these opinions for the record. Mr. LAWTON. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there other witnesses here who were to appear today?
The Chair will announce that there will be a resumed hearing on plans 2, 3, and 4 next Monday, the 19th, and other witnesses who are interested may be notified if they are not present.
We will have hearings on plan No. 5 tomorrow, and if we do not conclude those hearings tomorrow, we will resume hearings on plan No. 5 on Tuesday, the 20th.
(Whereupon, at 5:15 p. m., Wednesday, May 14, 1952, the hearing was recessed until 10 a. m. Monday, May 19, 1952.)
REORGANIZATION PLANS NOS. 2, 3, AND 4 OF 1952
MONDAY, MAY 19, 1952
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10 a. m., pursuant to recess, in room 357, Senate Office Building, Senator John L. McClellan (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senators McClellan, Monroney, and Dworshak.
Also present: Walter L. Reynolds, chief clerk; Ann M. Grickis, assistant chief clerk; and Eli E. Nobleman, professional staff member.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. We will resume hearings this morning on Reorganization Plans Nos. 2, 3, and 4. - When hearings began, no resolution of disapproval was pending. However, during the course of the hearings, Senate Resolution 317, disapproving plan No. 2 of 1952, was introduced. Accordingly, as to plan No. 2, the testimony will be directed primarily to Senate Resolution 317.
We will insert Senate Resolution 317 in the record at this point. (S. Res. 317, referred to, is as follows:)
Resolved, That the Senate does not favor the Reorganization Plan Numbered 2 of 1952 transmitted to Congress by the President on April 10, 1952.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Schoeppel, a member of the committee, has advised the Chair this morning that due to a delegation of his constituents who are here to confer with him regarding flood-control legislation, he will not be able to be present today. I understand they are presenting their problem to the Appropriations Committee, which is also conducting a hearing at this same hour.
We have scheduled as our first witness this morning Senator Olin D. Johnston of South Carolina, but I understand that he has been detained.
So we will proceed with other witnesses.
Mr. Keating, will you identify the others present with you who will testify?