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Senator DWORSHAK. By 1950 most Members of Congress had very little confidence in the then Secretary of Agriculture.
Senator RUSSELL. I have made my statement. I am standing on the fundamental policy that under the Constitution we should not delegate these powers to a Democratic Secretary of Agriculture, to a Republican Secretary of Agriculture, or to anyone else. I would not delegate them to the President of the United States, whoever he has been.
I came here and served a month or two with Mr. Hoover, and I bave been here with Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower, and I would not give this indefinite grant of power without time limitation to reorganize without submitting it to the Congress that this gives to the office of the Secretary of Agriculture. He does not have to submit it to the Congress. He can reorganize as he sees fit, and it is an unlimited delegation as to time. It is here, from here on out, the powers this reorganization order would grant if we approve it.
Senator DWORSHAK. I am sure that the Senator from Georgia recognizes that there is need for great improvement and reorganization within the Department. Would he take the position that Congress should enact legislation to accomplish those results?
Senator Russell. I always prefer the enactment of legislation by the Congress to action by the Executive in the legislative field, I will say very frankly to the Senator, but in this case, it has not worked. When we undertook—and I made some efforts in that direction-to change some of the activities of the Department, there were so many minds that we were not able to do it. That is the reason why we have granted these powers with certain standards, but that is no excuse for tearing down the standards and not having them give us a detailed plan, as this proposed thing would do, or of making it unlimited as to time, as this alleged plan would do.
I am for the Reorganization Act, and I so voted, and what I am doing now is to implore the Secretary of Agriculture to pass specific reorganization orders, send them to the President, let the President transmit them to us, telling us what he proposes to do. In my judgment, any one of them that has a scintilla of reason will be approved, because you could not get 49 votes against it.
That is entirely å horse of a different color, and bears no resemblance to a specific reorganization of the Department.
Senator DWORSHAK. Senator Russell, did you have an opportunity to read the Hoover statement with its five objectives inherent in this plan?
Senator RUSSELL. You mean, the one that he has made on this plan?
Senator DWORSHAK. Yes.
Senator RUSSELL. No, I have not read it yet. I thought it came a little late. He had an opportunity to submit it when we had the same plan up in the Democratic administration. It did not meet with his approval. Now we have a Republican administration, and he is all for it.
That is about the sum and substance of it. And I say that with all respect to Mr. Hoover.
Senator SMITH. Senator Hoey?
Senator HOEY. I do not believe that I care to ask Senator Russell any questions. I think that he has made a very full and complete
statement, and I think that I occupy the same position that he occupies and this committee occupied in 1950 when we had the same measure before the Congress.
Senator RUSSELL. Exactly.
Senator DIRKSEN. Senator Russell, I know that you would be familiar with the first endeavors of Congress to bring about some reorganization of government a good many years ago. I remember being in the House at that time, and the basic authority for reorganization was developed, and in fact, as you remember, we have written so many exemptions. For instance, we authorized reorganization and then we promptly put in a couple of paragraphs saying that it shall not, however, apply to the Interstate Commerce Commission or the Federal Trade Commission, and I suppose that there were other exemptions at that time, all of which, of course, indicates the difficulty ofttimes of bringing about the language under which a Government agency or department can be reorganized.
And I suppose that you are familiar with the general legislative history of the whole reorganization effort.
Senator RUSSELL. I am not as familiar as some of the members of the committee that handled it. But I was here during the entire time that the reorganization idea was being handled, and I have some little familiarity with it. I have served in an executive capacity in my own State, and I was elected Governor of Georgia on a promise to reorganize the State government, and I was able to carry out my pledge, and I think that is the reason I am here in the Senate of the United States today.
Of course, I did it through the help of the Georgia Legislature. I did not do it by the exercise of executive powers. But I managed to get the legislature to go along with me on it.
Senator DIRKSEN. Now, since those first attempts, of course, we have made some progress so far as the general authority is concerned, as indicated by the act that is now in effect, that is a good deal broader. And while it has some limitations in it, I think that you will agree that it does confer a great deal more power than we had in the earlier days when we had the first so-called reorganization power.
Senator RUSSELL. I am not so sure about that, Senator.
We granted very wide powers to President Roosevelt to reorganize in one of those acts. I think it was the act of 1939. I will not be specific as to the years, since time flies so rapidly here. But we gave him very broad powers to reorganize.
As I stated at the outset of my remarks, some of the results were rather disappointing to me, because instead of consolidating, he used those powers in some instances to create new agencies of Government, and some of them turned out to be rather expensive agencies of Government.
Senator DIRKSEN. Senator, I think you will agree, however, that the Reorganization Act does have a good deal more latitude than was expressed in these earlier days. Now, it was in pursuance of that thing that I want to get to.
Senator RUSSELL. We have very few standards. The executive branch of the Government is granted great power under the present law and I think it is ample. I think it is adequate. For that reason, I am disappointed that they are reaching out to go beyond the powers of this act and to place this power on an unlimited basis as to time in the Secretary of Agriculture, without requiring him to report to the Congress for approval.
Senator DIRKSEN. Now, it was under that broad authority in 1950 that they did send up at least 6 reorganization acts.
Senator RUSSELL. Yes.
Senator DIRKSEN. One of which failed, and five of which, as applied to executive departments, were finally approved.
Senator RUSSELL. I think that that is true, that a number of them were sent up, and some of them gave rather sweeping powers to the head of that agency to reorganize.
I want to be perfectly frank with the committee. I always try to be frank. I must confess that I studied the reorganization program of the Department of Agriculture more carefully than I did the others. I had served on the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry for a number of years.
I had done an immense amount of work over a long period of years on the agricultural appropriation bill, and many hours of that work were spent in conference with committees, an one time presided over by the distinguished Senator from Illinois when he was Chairman of the Agricultural Subcommittee in the House, before he became an ornament in the Senate. And I was more interested in agriculture.
I assume that the Senator is going down to the point that we have granted such powers as this heretofore. That may be. I do not think that that same reasoning applies to the Department of Agriculture, because it has more action programs that deal directly with the people than any other agency, at least so far as the discretion that is granted at the present time. But even if I have made a mistake and somewhere along the line voted for something that gave a greater grant of power than I should have, I do not propose to compound that error in doing it in this case, because I do have some knowledge of that setup in the Department of Agriculture, and the effect that the exercise of this power can have on the farmers of America, and in turn it will affect all of the people of America who are consumers of farm products and dependent on them for their sustenance and existence.
Senator DIRKSEN. Your inference was correct. I was trying to get down to the 5 plans that were approved in 1950, and I wondered whether you cared to make an observation that the plans at that time relating to Treasury, to Interior, to Justice, to Commerce, and to Labor were blank checks in the same proportion that this might be regarded as a blank check because there the powers were consolidated in the head of the Department. (See insert marked “Appendix B”.-S. Rept. No. 4, 83d Cong., 1st sess., which appears on p. 104). Would that be a correct statement of the situation?
Senator RUSSELL. I am not prepared to accept it as correct, but I do not challenge it, because if I read these plans, it has been 2 or 3 years ago, and I do not recall the details of them. But I submit that there is a great deal of difference in an organization such as the Department of Commerce, which has to do with functions such as weather service and things of that kind, which do affect the people in a limited way, and one that deals intimately with the millions of farmers of America, each and every day, in the earning of their livelihood.
As I say, if it was a mistake, I do not propose to compound the error now by voting for this program. I voted against this in 1950. I at least saw the vices in this one, and the vices that compelled me to vote against it in 1950 are very evident in the plan of 1953, and I am still opposed to it.
Senator DIRKSEN. You did make the observation earlier in your testimony that this plan was almost identical with plan No. 4 in 1950.
Senator RUSSELL. Yes; I said the differences were purely windowdressing
Senator DIRKSEN. That is right.
Senator Russell. The plan provides that the Secretary can, if he thinks it practicable to do so, have a hearing; and of course if he has made up his mind what he is going to do, he may afford to some objector the courtesy of a hearing somewhere, but it is not going to have any effect upon what he does. And that is a very poor substitute for what I think was the purpose of the Reorganization Act of 1949, of requiring the submission to the Congress of the United States a specific plan as to what he proposed to do with the functions of the Department of Agriculture.
That is all I am asking him to do, to tell the Congress what he is going to do before it is an accomplished fact, and to get it dɔne and out of the way before the 1st of April, 1955, and not to have it there as a permanent power.
Senator DIRKSEN. Since you do agree-and I agree with youthat plan No. 4 in 1950 substantially is identically the plan that is before us now, and plan No. 4 in 1950 was virtually identical with the 5 plans that were approved by Congress, we come back to an inescapable conclusion that Congress did in 1950 then approve five delegations of blank checks to Commerce, Treasury, Justice, Labor, and Interior, and that it has been done.
Senator RUSSELL. That may be. I am not prepared to challenge that. But I have not refreshed my recollection from reading them, and I submit that there is a great deal of difference in the Department of Agriculture and its functions and the way they are created, and the functions of the agencies to which the Senator refers.
Next to our Defense Establishment, the Department of Agriculture, I believe, has a more intimate relationship with the lives of more people than any other department of Government. And certainly it has a broader action program than any executive agency except the Department of Defense. It probably has more employees. I have not checked on that, but I would assume, and would state, subject to correction, that the Department of Agriculture, with its many ramifications, is more akin to the Department of Defense.
We have not reorganized that yet. I understand that the President sent in a plan the day before yesterday. I have not read it.
Senator DirksEN. Are you making the contention that under this authority, except for the exceptions cited in paragraph 1, the Secretary of Agriculture may conceivably abolish some functions, some agencies or bureaus, that had actually been created by Congress?
Senator RUSSELL. I do not know that he could completely abolish them. I am not sure about that. I intended to read that act to determine that this morning, but I did not get around to it.
Yes, I think under subparagraph 5 of section 2 of your basic reorganization law, the President can do it, and the President undertakes to convey to the Secretary all of the powers that he has. The only difference there is that the President has to report to the Congress and the Secretary of Agriculture does not. And the Secretary of Agriculture has no limitation on time.
I will read section 2:
The President shall examine and from time to time reexamine the organization of all agencies of the Government and shall determine what changes therein are necessary to accomplish the following purposes:
I will not read all of them.
(5) To reduce the number of agencies by consolidating those having similar functions under a similar head, and to abolish such agencies or functions thereof as may not be necessary for the efficient conduct of the Government.
I do not think that there is any question but what the President, in transferring his power to the office of the Secretary of Agriculture, would give him the power to accomplish them. But whether he can accomplish them or not, he can put them down to where they would not amount to anything, by subordinating them. I think that he can abolish them. But whether he can or not, what I want him to do is to tell the Congress what he is doing. These are congressional creatures. We created these functions here in the Congress. Are we not entitled to know in advance what he is going to do, and have a plan submitted under this reorganization Act?
Senator DIRKSEN. I was trying to find out from you whether your whole case rested on the fact that you put Agriculture in a separate category from any other agency or department or function.
Senator RUSSELL. Certainly President Eisenhower has. He has, indeed. I read over this morning at least the reorganization plan on the Federal Security Administration, where he created a Department, and he has a specific clause in there that the Secretary cannot abolish any functions created by the Congress. He does not have it in this order. And I submit that he ought to recall this order and give the Congress a true reorganization plan. We want to help this Administration. I have been earnest in my desire to support this Administration.
If the time ever comes when I feel that I am not an American before I am a Democrat, then I hope that something happens to remove me from this scene here in Washington.
I have been trying to support the President. But I want him to be fair with the Congress and give us a detailed statement of just what is going to happen in the Department of Agriculture.
Senator DIRKSEN. Would you object to a similar grant of power to the Secretary of Commerce, for example?
Senator RUSSELL. Senator, you, of course, are going back to your contention that we have already granted it, and I have not checked on whether I voted for it. I would not vote for any such grant of power as this if I was fully aware such broad powers were involved. I would not. I think it is an abdication of congressional power that the Congress should never grant.
We went a long way in this Reorganization Act of 1949. We gave to the President great powers over the creatures of Congress. But we did say, “You must at least submit it back to us, where we can reexamine it."