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ating under the old rules-allowing an endless filibuster-or under general parliamentary rules that would allow the question to be fairly deliberated, but would also enable a majority of the Senators present to make a decision.
I infer from the statement of Vice President Nixon last January that the Senate might have to debate such a matter under the old rules, but this is only an inference.
Since this question involves matters of Senate procedure beyond my competence, I will say no more about the specific procedure needed to break the present impasse, except to add that a resolute majority, with the ground well prepared, with public opinion carefully and thoroughly informed on the merits of the matter, and with the cooperation of the presiding officer, could, I believe, adopt rules that befit a Senate legislating in the 20th century.
I wish only to make a general observation on the merits of the issue.
Whenever the question arises as to the adoption of new rules, a Senator is sure to rise to assert that under our constitutional system of checks and balances the Senate is a continuing body and hence the rules of a previous Senate bind a newly composed one. This, I submit, is not true.
Neither the letter nor the spirit of the Constitution holds that the Senate is a continuing body;
Senator TALMADGE. Would you yield at this point ?
Has not the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Senate is a continuing body?
Mr. BURNS. Not in my judgment, sir. Senator TALMADGE. It has so held. Proceed, please. Mr. BURNS. The Constitution simply established the Senate as a body composed of men with overlapping terms. The purpose was, of course, to prevent the Senate from being unduly influenced by a sudden turn of public opinion.
Now, this arrangement does not decree that the rules of the Senate must be "continuing." Quite the contrary—the spirit of the Constitution is that as the Senate becomes composed of new Members under this staggered method, it must deliberate and act accordingly.
More specifically, if the Senate over a period of years comes to be composed of a majority in favor of effective civil rights legislation, if it becomes so composed, not as a result of a sudden turn of public opinion, but after long experience and thought throughout the Nation, then, under the spirit of the Constitution, the Senate should act.
If our Founding Fathers had wanted a minority of Senators to be able to obstruct lawmaking, I imagine that they would have so provided in the Constitution.
May I say in conclusion, Mr. Chairman, that if there is a note of urgency in my final suggestion as to necessary action, it may arise in part from the fact that recently I made a trip to Russia and left that country with a feeling of urgency about the years immediately ahead of us.
I feel that the Soviet Union is far stronger industrially and economically than we realize, that there is a tremendous potential there that will emerge despite the iniquities and injustices of its political system. I think that we face a long-term struggle with Russia in
the economic and social sphere, even if we maintain a military balance against the Kremlin.
Feeling thus, I am all the more eager that we look searchingly for the chinks in our own democratic armor, that we ferret out the governmental weaknesses that prevent us as a people from dealing quickly and effectively with our economic and social deficiencies at home.
As a student of parliamentary government here and abroad, as one who has walked through the Hålls of Parliaments that once were the proud spokesmen and executants for vigorous democracies, I am struck by the historic fact that those parliaments that could not deliberate meaningfully and act effectively for their peoples became mournful symbols of the failure of democracies to respond to challenges from within and without.
Let us make the Senate really the greatest deliberative body in the world by paying its debates the ultimate tribute the tribute of taking them seriously as the precursors to thoughtful action.
That, sir, concludes my statement.
Senator TALMADGE. Thank you very much for your very fine statement. I have 1 or 2 questions I would like to ask, please, Professor Burns. You have stated that you are a student of parliamentary procedures in other governments. What other parliamentary procedures have you studied besides those of the United States Senate?
Mr. BURNS. I actually said I was a student of parliamentary government, and by this I mean that I am a student of the political pressures that operate through these parliaments. To answer your question in that framework, I have particularly studied the operation of the British Parliament.'
Senator TALMADGE. Did you ever make a study of the German Reichstag? Mr. BURNS. No; I have not, in terms of procedures.
Senator TALMADGE. Do you know whether they had a debate-limitation rule under the tyranny of Adolf Hitler ?
Mr. BURNS. I assume they did, but I did not include the Reichstag as a parliamentary body.
Senator TALMADGE. Do you not think, when Hitler first came to power, that a strong group of German men with open and free discussion might have prevented some of the tyranny he imposed on the German people and later on the world?
Mr. BURNS. No; I do not. Senator TALMADGE. You don't think it would have helped at all ? Mr. BURNS. No. I think the things that weakened the German Republic were precisely the kind of procedures in the German Republic system prior to Hitler that made it difficult for the German Republic. to cope with the needs of the people, and hence helped pave the way for a man who said he could solve the problems of the people.
Senator TALMADGE. In other words, free discussion in parliament would not have helped, sir?
Mr. BURNS. No, sir. When I say free discussion, I think free discussion would have helped, but I don't think unlimited discussion would have helped. On the contrary, I am sure from experience in other parliaments that the Communists and other extremists in the Reichstag would have used those obstructionist measures to prevent the republican government from doing the things necessary for the people.
Senator TALMADGE. Senator?
Senator Javirs. Thank you. I just wanted to thank you, Professor Burns, for giving us the benefit of your counsel, and I found your statement very interesting, very provocative, very informative, and I hope it will be of use to us.
Senator TALMADGE. I appreciate your coming very much.
Senator TALMADGE. Mr. Omar B. Ketchum, director, national legislative service, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
STATEMENT OF OMAR B. KETCHUM, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL LEGIS
LATIVE SERVICE, VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES, ACCOMPANIED BY FRANCIS MCNAMARA, ASSISTANT LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR
Mr. KETCHUM. Mr. Chairman, Senator Javits, I would like first to present my assistant legislative director, who is here with me this morning. I took the liberty of bringing him to the table because he has certain information in the event questions are asked.
Mr. Francis McNamara.
Senator TALMADGE. Thank you. We are delighted to have you with us, also, Mr. McNamara. · Mr. KETCHUM. I should also like to make a preliminary statement, Mr. Chairman, to the effect that the question in this hearing has arisen between our national conventions, and, because of that, we have no firm national-convention resolution on this subject. The statement I am about to make here this morning is based on the authority given our commander in chief to act between national conventions, on my authority as the legislative spokesman for the organization, and on my 17 years of experience, living with the organization and watching its conventions, and the types of resolutions which it has adopted over the years.
Now, undoubtedly, this question will be presented at our forthcoming convention in the latter part of August, but the commander did not know whether these hearings would be in existence after September. For that reason, he suggested that we make this preliminary statement, as we ascertain it, on what he believes would be the sentiment of the organization.
Senator Javits. In short, Mr. Ketchum, it is his personal position. Mr. KETCHUM. Well, personal position, as well as my contribution, based on my years of experience with the types of resolutions our organization has adopted, Senator Javits; such as support of the Bricker amendment to the Constitution; such as opposition to any form of world government, opposition to the Atlantic Union. I mean, it seems
Senator JAVITS. Do you equate the change in rule XXII with the Bricker amendment?
Mr. KETCHUM. Somewhat, yes. Somewhat, as a matter of protection of America, what we call protection of American sovereignty, protection of American institutions. In other words, perhaps a conservative position of the type which the organization has consistently taken.
Senator Javits. But this is not the action of the VFW?
Mr. KETCHUM. No; not the action of the national convention; that is right.
Senator JAVITS. Okay. Mr. KETCHUM. I appreciate your offer to appear here this morning to speak for the Veterans of Foreign Wars on the subject of cloture in the Senate
Senator Javits. Will you yield at this point? That is not correct, is it?
Mr. KETCHUM. Theoretically, yes; it is. The commander in chief, under the constitution and bylaws, has the authority to speak for the organization in between national conventions. Now, the convention might not support him in the future, but the commander is given the authority in between conventions, where there is no specific position taken, to take a position for the organization.
Senator JAVITS. Thank you.
Mr. KETCHUM. The question of shutting off debate in the world's most exclusive deliberative body is an old and controversial subject. Since the 18th century, various rules and devices have been proposed as a means of terminating debate or ending the filibuster, which is a device for literally talking a bill to death.
At present, under Senate rule XXII, debate can be shut off by a vote of two-thirds of the Senators duly chosen and sworn, except in cases of debate concerning the Senate's standing rules. In that case, there is no limit to debate.
The resolutions which would amend rule XXII and which are now before this subcommittee for consideration–Senate Resolutions 17, 19, 21, 30, and 32—would make cloture more easily accomplished by amending or repealing section 3 of rule XII, and by amending section 2 of the same rule so that a two-thirds vote of all Senators duly chosen and sworn would not be required. These bills variously propose that cloture be effected by a majority vote of the authorized Senate membership, by a majority of those present and voting, by a twothirds vote of Senators present and voting, and by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting, provided they are not less than a majority of all Senators duly chosen and sworn.
It is our opinion that, all things considered, it would be better to let Senate rule XXII stand as it is rather than change it as proposed in any of the above-mentioned resolutions.
Cloture rules in the Senate have varied over the years. Generally speaking, filibusters have always been possible despite the efforts to end them that were started about the middle of the last century when they were introduced as a Senate stratagem. Something close to unlimited debate has become a tradition and hallmark of this body--and something that should not be upset except for the most compelling reasons.
Our major interest in considering this issue should not be the passage of legislation which may be desired by a majority even though it is bitterly opposed by a significant minority, but rather what is best for this country in the long run. There may be temporary diplomatic and propaganda value in passing certain legislation, but, in the long run, greater harm than good may be done by forcing such legislation through the Senate by weakening the present cloture rule.
I believe all thinking people must be impressed by the fact that today, both here and abroad, there is a tendency toward bigger and more centralized government. This is a natural result of the increasing complexity of our lives in many fields. But big and centralized government is always, of its very nature, a threat to individual liberties, and this is something we cannot afford to forget. If anything, we need more protection against government today than ever before. We need a revival of the old healthy skepticism of government that characterized Thomas Jefferson and our Founding Fathers. Rather than loosen the reigns on government, we should try to tighten them. We need to be certain that our system of checks and balances is in good order—and the tradition of nearly unlimited debate in the Senate has become a part of that system of checks and balances.
Senator TALMADGE. Mr. Ketchum, will you yield at that point? I was very impressed with what you said about big government. Is it not true that liberties of the people have always been destroyed by governments, instead of by a few individuals?
Mr. KETCHUM. Well, it would seem to me, based on my knowledge of history, Mr. Chairman, that that is essentially correct.
Senator TALMADGE. Government destroyed the liberty of the people in Russia, didn't it?
Mr. KETCHUM. That is correct.
Senator TALMADGE. Isn't it also true that government destroyed the liberty of the people in Italy under Mussolini ? Mr. KETCHUM. That is correct.
Senator TALMADGE. And that government destroyed the liberty of Germany under Adolf Hitler?
Mr. KETCHUM. That is correct.
Senator TALMADGE. In every other case that I recall from history, the same has been true.
Senator JAVITS. Isn't it a fact, in each of the instances mentioned by Senator Talmadge, it was an individual who manipulated government for that purpose—whether it was Lenin, Trotsky, Mussolini, or Hitler ?
Mr. KETCHUM. That is correct, but I am coming to another important point that will illustrate that point.
Senator TALMADGE. It became the government, whether an individual initiated it or not. Mr. KETCHUM. I get into that, the danger involved.
In addition to the tendency toward big government, there is another factor which today poses a potential threat to our traditional liberties and makes reasonable obstacles to the easy termination of Senate debate more desirable than ever before.
Tremendous progress has been made in the field of communications. We have greater newspaper coverage than ever before and, in addition to our almost universal distribution of the radio, we have the relatively new element of television. The potential for good in these communication mediums is tremendous.
Although far from perfect, they have undoubtedly helped to make many Americans better informed about their Government and vital matters of national and foreign policy.
At the same time, however, these mediums also have a potential for mischief. As one example, they provide a means by which a Chief Executive with dictatorial leanings and spellbinding ability could create an unreal and unfounded sense of urgency on a certain issue, and thus arouse great numbers of people to support measures that may