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Mr. ASH. Certainly is.
Senator Ervin. Now, you stated that you didn't think Congress was entitled, either Congress or the Appropriations Committee, were entitled to receive simultaneously the requests submitted to the Office of Management and Budget, to enable it to perform its duties, from the departments and agencies in connection with their requests for funds. and reasons for their requests for funds.
Mr. Ash. Yes, sir.
Senator Ervin. Why shouldn't the members of the Appropriations Committee be afforded an opportunity to start to expand their intellectual horizon, in respect to matters they are going to have to pass on for the benefit of Congress, at the same time that the Office of Management and Budget receives such information ?
Mr. Ash. I think there are two reasons: One of them is eren presumptuous of me to mention, because it deals with your business rather than that of the executive branch, but I would think from your point of view that even as was observed in 1919 and made much more difficult today, there would be such a morass of data, much of it meaning. less and difficult to work with that it wouldn't serve your purpose.
Now, I say I am presumptuous to observe that, and I will not talk about that except to observe the workings of it.
But, second, a more pertinent and valid reason is that such submissions to the President are one form of communications to the Presi. dent and there are many other forms of communication to the President. Carried to its logical extension, one could say that all communications to the President, should logically go to the Congress and to the public and the President.
Senator ERVIN. You say such a mass of information is involved. That makes it all the more reason why the Appropriations Committee should receive access to it at the earliest possible moment. I don't see why we can't see what you get from the agencies and departments in their request for funds. The reason for them–I can't indulge the assumption that is useless information. I hate to think the statement of what a particular agency needs in order to carry on its functions during the forthcoming fiscal year is worthless information.
Mr. Asi. A good example is manpower training programs. A number of agencies have responsibilities for different aspects of that subject. They do not each have the view of what the other programs are or what the other program plans are. As it submits information it is just a fragment of that which has to be brought together and looked at simultaneously before it is put into some form that is meaningful and useful for anybody's consideration as to what should be the lerel of manpower training activities. And this goes across the whole of the government. With all these individual programs, more and more of government becomes fragmented, and this becomes a big problem. The individual programs-or not even programs—the individual wishes or thoughts of individual programs really have very little i meaning until they are put into the context of things that are like kind or similar objective.
Senator Ervin. Does that imply that the Appropriations Committees and their staff's are incapable of reaching a judgment with respect to
these matters because the information or requests come from a variety of sources ?
Mr. Ash. I think as a practical matter it would be impossible for the Appropriations Committees—I shouldn't say impossible—nothing is supposed to be that—but it would be extremely difficult for the Appropriations Committees to make meaningful sense of these bits and pieces of information. Hundreds and thousands of bits and pieces of information that need to be put together in some meaningful form before they can be used. As we even see now the budget-in the process by which the budget is put together in what we believe is meaningful form—comes before the Congress in early February and is not acted upon sometimes for the whole of a year, and certainly even major parts of it until after substantial parts of the affected year have passed.
With that data, seeing the problem of dealing with it suggests clearly that if one were to work from the details that made it
it would be one hopeless morass. I do suggest you have a great opportunity here this year for the first time.
As you know, the budget this year for the first time includes a budget plan, I wouldn't call it a budget, but a plan for the second year, that is fiscal 1975. Here may well be the opportunity for the Congress to look farther ahead. It is very difficult as we see this system for the Congress to deal with the cycle of the budget 1 year at a time. But here is an opportunity for the first time to look farther ahead, and I do commend it.
Senator ERVIN. I would agree with you that Congress has no right to require the Office of Management and Budget to send any communications it makes to the President, but I, for the likes of me-except it wouldn't entail anything but making Xerox copies—I don't see why Congress should not have the authority to require any agency or department to submit to the Congress simultaneously at the time it submits that to the Office of Management and Budget any of their requests for funds and the reasons for those requests so Congress can start, the Appropriations Committees and their staffs can start to study the matter just at the same time the Office of Management and Budget does.
Mr. Ass. The submissions go to the President's Office of which the Office of Management and Budget is an integral part.
Senator Ervin. I will admit there seems to be a regulation which provides for that, but I don't see why Congress can't change the procedure. I will agree that the Office of Management and Budget has been more lavishly empowered by appropriations to obtain employees to make these studies and Congress has been rather neglectful in making provision for adequate personnel for the Appropriations Committee. But that is something that ought to be cured.
I just don't believe-if I were a member of the Appropriations Committee particularly interested in the appropriation for the administration of justice, I don't see why I should not receive—have the various agencies connected with the administration of justice furnish me with copies of anything that they send to the President or Office of Management on that matter—they are also an independent branch of the Government, the judiciary is—so I can start to study it to see
whether it is adequate. I don't think I ought to be denied access to that.
It would require change in regulations or the law.
Just one other thing about the President in respect to legislation. The way I interpret the Constitution, it doesn't give the President two powers in respect to any legislation of Congress, whether that legislation be an appropriation bill or any other kind of bill. First, as in section 3 of article II, he, that is the President, shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the Union and recommend for their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.
Now, that clearly empowers the President to give advice to the Congress as to what he thinks the Congress ought to do in its legislative activities.
But I submit, the Congress should have the same power as the old lady who came to see me in my law office many, many years ago and asked my advice on the point of law. I took down the law book to enlighten myself and I gave her my advice as to what her legal rights were, and what she ought to do. She got up and started out of my office and I said, “Wait a minute, you owe me $5."
She said, “What for ?"
So Congress doesn't have to take advice with respect to any measures the President judges necessary to be expedient and recommends Congress enact. Congress can totally ignore those things.
Then there is the second power. If Congress ignores the President's recommendations and fails to enact a law, then the President has no further power under the Constitution, with respect to initiating legislation, because he can't make a law. But Article 1, Section 7 provides that, if the President doesn't like, for any reason, for any motive, any act that the Congress passes, whether it is an appropriation or other measure, then the President could veto it. Congress can then override that veto and make the bill law. The law becomes effective by twothirds vote of both Houses. The President has no other constitutional authority that I can find, or that I have heard of, to nullify any act of (Congress. Once an act of Congress has become law, I know of no authority for the President to refuse to obey his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. I would like to see cooperation between the legislative and executive branches, especially in the field of financing, because I think the time for the Federal Government to set its financial house in order has long since arrived. I think that Presidents and Congresses have aided and abetted each other in setting that financial house in disarray. If the President looks to the future in his recommendations, he will probably get a good deal of support from me in voting against some appropriations, or voting to sustain the veto of some appropriations. I think that is an orderly way to do it. I think there are too many tax eaters in the United States. I think too many taxes are being consumed upon projects of doubtful wisdom or efficacy, and I think that the Congresswhether the President recommends it or not-ought to do something to see that the expenditures it authorizes do not exceed the tax resources of the Nation.
I regret that the President sent us another budget asking us to authorize expenditure of about $30 billion we haven't even got. I think some of the recommendations are unwise, and I voted against them previously, such as revenue sharing. I thought it ridiculous to share funds with States when we didn't have a single cent to share with anybody, unable to pay our own debts. My State, as many States would share in such funds. My State had a huge surplus in its treasury because we have had wise fiscal management on the part of the Government.
I think the President made a great mistake when he took the meat axe, or cleaver, and cut off appropriations right in the middle of a fiscal year. The people of the States and localities, and people in different enterprises, had assumed when the President passed the appropriation act, and signed it into law, that that was assurance to the States and localities, and people, that they could reasonably anticipate, and make contracts, and adopt programs, on the basis of these appropriation bills. I deeply regret that the President has done that, not only from the standpoint of what I deny as his constitutional legal power, but also from the standpoint of commonsense and economic wisdom.
Vow, if he had asked my advice on this point, I would have given him some good advice and that would have been to try to make future recommendations on January 1, 1973, to try to set the financial house in order instead of inconveniencing States, localities, and individuals who have gone ahead and taken action on the basis of the belief that the promise of the United States of funds for activities embodied in an appropriation bill passed by the Congress, and signed into law by the President, would be kept.
I have given him some good advice, which he didn't take, on one or two occasions in the past.
Senator Chiles. Mr. Ash, I know we have explored this area, but I am still having a difficult time trying to understand your reasoning as to why you would not see fit to ask the President to sign a bill that would entitle Congress to the information at budget hearings by respective agencies, at the time they make their presentations to the executive branch. You refer to these as being the wishes of the agencies. By that you don't infer that they don't have some value to the OMB in making up its advice to the President as to what the budget should be?
Mr. Ash. Just as a shopping list has value, that is, to be integrated with other considerations, but they don't represent a considered view from the perspective that has to be applied, that is, interdepartmental programs and activities, total constraints, whether total budgetary or other constraints
Senator Chiles. But it is the raw material, is it not, that you start with in building a budget?
Mr. Ass. Certainly they are an integral part of that raw material. Senator CHLES. And you couldn't do without them?
Mr. Ash. We couldn't do without them; we might be able to do without them, but the system today doesn't run without them.
Senator CHILEs. But you don't say you totally ignore them?
Mr. Ash. Quite the contrary. They are the basis for a substantial amount of further inquiry and discussion and deliberation.
Senator CHILES. And you are trying to get from the starting material that you receive there to the end product, which is a unified budget or a total budget?
Mr. Ash. That is right, with various other inputs even beyond those that come in through the individual bureau agency submissions.
Senator CHILES. If OMB has to start there to get to its final product, why do you want to deny Congress the right to start there?
Nr. Asu. Well, there are two parts of that, as I indicated earlier. First, all of those communications back and forth are really communications between those agencies and the President. This bill says
Senator CHILEs. We are not talking about communications now, Mr. Ash. We are talking about the budget presentation made by any agency—you pick any agency, or all of them have to make their presentation. You said that is the starting place. You said that is the raw material, or you have agreed with me that it is, and that you have to start there to come up with your budget. Then how can you expect Congress to come out right if we can't start there?
Mr. Ası. Oh, I think very simply. First, the Congress has placed on the President a responsibility to come out with a total and complete budget, which budget is submitted to the Congress, and at that point, we can expect the Congress to come out with its deliberations. It spends months and months there. Those months are properly available to it so that those months are there, and the best information given-all the information available to it.
Senator Chiles. You want us to take the figures OMB gives us and you don't want us to be able to go back to the raw material?
Mr. Asu. No, I said quite the contrary. You have in front of you a budget that takes into account all the considerations that have to be brought to bear on top of the agency inputs, then when that comes to the Congress, the Congress has the full right-and I would recommend it exercise that right—to ask of the agencies any questions that they want to ask to better develop an understanding of agency requests. They can even ask the agencies what, for presidential consideration, did they have as their own shopping list. Now the agencies, in turn, will have to make sure the Congress understands this is just an agency submission.
Senator CHILES. You don't think we are sophisticated enough to sit in a budget hearing where that starts? If OMB can realize that is a shopping list, that we can realize that is a shopping list?
Mr. Asir. I am sure Congress can adopt any method that it wants, but this is a method that I think best suits all of the responsibilities that are placed upon the President, and makes a system that is workable. We can throw out a workable system and not even have an Office of Management and Budget if that would serve the congressional interest. I don't know how the President would meet his responsibilities.
Senator CHILES. It looks like, Mr. Ash, on the one hand, the President and you have criticized the Congress because we fail to arm ourselves with sufficient information and we are fragmented in the way that we approach the budget, we are criticized because we don't have the capability or we haven't exercised the capability. Then on the other hand we try to arm ourselves or start talking about trying to