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It is interesting to note that, since the first motion to invoke the cloture rule was introduced in the United States Senate on November 15, 1919, the Senate itself voted in favor of that motion only 4 times out of a total of 22 times that it was made.
This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Senate itself, by substantial vote margins, was in favor of unlimited debate on 18 of the 22 measures before it. In each of the 18 instances a substantial number ranging from 27 to 77 opposed the limitation of debate.
In the light of these historical facts, we can only ask: Why are these proposals to limit debate continually presented before the Senate Rules Committee and its subcommittees? History is continually repeating itself, but the tragedy is that we do not seem to learn the lesson of history until it is too late. It is my opinion, after having examined the influences brought to bear on once-free nations in the process of turning them over to totalitarian regimes, that freedom of expression, whether oral or written, has always been stifled first before the country was captured by a dictator or totalitarian regime.
It is a singular fact that the Senate of the United States has passed a higher percentage of bills since its inception, without majority cloture, than the House of Representatives has passed with such a cloture rule.
The Senate is known to be the more deliberative of the two bodies of the Congress. I do not believe that the American people want this change through a speedup campaign, which would surely result if the present Senate rule XXII were changed from two-thirds to a chance majority.
Some have advanced the idea that the filibuster as used in the United States Senate causes adverse criticism of our Government in foreign countries I think Mr. Reuther tried to make quite a point of that this morning—especially on the part of foreign governmental assemblies.
I think it is about time that we stop paying attention to the criticisms of people who have been receiving continuous handouts from the American taxpayers for lo, these many years, and from governments which have various conceptions of justice and freedom which are alien to traditional American constitutional concepts.
I have traveled on every continent in this world. I have served this Government on every continent of this world. And, if I were to take the time, Senator Talmadge, this morning to refute the statements which Mr. Reuther made in regard to India and other places that he has visited, we would be here for many days to come.
I, too, have talked to thousands of these people. I have talked to the leaders of these countries, and I can say that the worst discrimination of any kind in the world and the greatest inequalities are found in the very countries which Mr. Reuther mentioned here this morning as criticizing the Government of the United States, and, with all of our handouts we have made to these countries, these countries have not improved the social conditions there.
They have the extreme rich and the extreme poor, and a far greater differentiation between classes in those countries than we have in the United States of America.
Our country has existed as a free republic because our people have enjoyed the freedoms guaranteed to them in the great documents written by wise Founding Fathers. Let us not send this Nation down the road which decadent foreign nations have already traveled by restricting full and free debate on the part of our United States Senators, whom we send to Washington for the purpose of representing us and maintaining a position on any measure which is in accordance with the views of the constituency they are representing.
Thank you very much for this opportunity of presenting these views to the special subcommittee of the Committee on Rules and Administration.
Senator Javits. Thank you, Mr. Bundy.
Senator TALMADGE. Mr. Bundy, we appreciate your very fine statement.
The next hearing will be July 2, at 10 a. m.
There are a number of insertions for the record. The first one is for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Mr. Biemiller, furnishing certain information I requested.
(Inserted in the testimony of June 24, 1957, at p. 80.) Senator TALMADGE. The second is a petition from St. Louis, Mo. (See appendix, exhibit 4.)
Senator TALMADGE. The third is a letter from the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
(See appendix, exhibit 2.)
Senator TALMADGE. Here is an individual letter from Wheeling, W. Va.
(See appendix, exhibit 3.).
Senator TALMADGE. Next is a letter from the Banner Council, No. 67, of the Sons and Daughters of Liberty, Inwood, Long Island, N. Y.
(See appendix, exhibit 2.)
Senator TALMADGE. We also have a statement to be printed in the record from Dean Clarence Manion of South Bend, Ind.
(See appendix, exhibit 2.)
I believe that completes the hearing at this point. If you do not have anything to place in the record, we stand in adjournment until July 2, at 10 a. m.
(Whereupon, at 1:25 p. m., the hearing adjourned, to reconvene on Tuesday, July 2, 1957, at 10 á.m.)
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO RULE XXII OF THE
STANDING RULES OF THE SENATE
TUESDAY, JULY 2, 1957
UNITED STATES SENATE,
SPECIAL SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
Washington, D. C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to recess, at 10:45 a. m., in room 155, Senate Office Building, Senator Herman E. Talmadge (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senators Talmadge (presiding) and Javits.
Also present: Langdon West, special counsel to the subcommittee; Darrell St. Claire, professional staff member; Robert S. McCain, professional staff member; and Sidney Kelley, Jr., administrative assistant to Senator Javits.
Senator TALMADGE. The subcommittee will come to order.
The first witness on the agenda is Mrs. John Howland Snow, president, National Association of Pro America, New Canaan, Conn.
Mrs. Snow, please sit here and proceed when you are ready. STATEMENT OF MRS. JOHN HOWLAND SNOW, PRESIDENT, NA
TIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PRO AMERICA, NEW CANAAN, CONN.
Mrs. Snow. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee hearing testimony on proposed amendments to Senate rule XXII, I am appearing here on behalf of the board of directors of the National Association of Pro America to oppose any amendment to Senate rule XXII which would limit floor debate.
We oppose limitation of debate on any specific question or legislation except, as presently provided in the rules, upon an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the membership of the Senate. Our opposition is based upon principle, and not upon the anticipation of debate or vote upon any particular or specific legislation introduced or pending before either of the Houses of Congress.
Insofar as my research has revealed, the United States Senate is the only deliberative legislative body in the world today which has unlimited debate, and the freedom of its Members to express views which may happen to be minority views—with resultant opportunity for the sovereign people to become informed about legislation, gives our Senate one of its greatest strengths. It is this opportunity to prevent precipitous and not fully considered action which lends to our Senate the prestige it has gained for protecting each segment of our population at all times.
Our Founding Fathers well knew that it was essential for us to have a body such as this Senate, and in contrast to our House of Representatives provided that its Members have longer tenure of office, a change of but one-third of its membership in each biennium, graver attitudes and, as a whole, longer experience—while still being responsible to the electorate. This gave a balanced stability to our two Houses, and we believe that the full and unlimited debate, peculiar to this body, is a priceless factor in that balance and in that stability. And equally, it is important and necessary that this particular body have its rules so arranged that any impetuous or occasional hasty decision may be forestalled, and that should any Member of the Senate feel that if a proposed action were sufficiently understood, the vote would or could be different, he may with the consent of his colleagues explain and explore all the avenues and evidence to insure such understanding.
Believing wholeheartedly in representative processes, we, the National Association of Pro America, hold firmly to the wisdom and principle of complete freedom of discussion, not to be limited unless and until two-thirds of the Senate agree that debate has been sufficiently prolonged and adequately informative that it should be terminated for the purpose of voting; and that no legislation, however much subjected to hearings or debate in its assigned committee, should be brought out on the floor with debate of 96 Senators "limited under the rule.”
This may be proper in another body, where the large membership alone requires procedures not consonant with a body composed of no more than two spokesmen for each State; the Senate must, we feel, guard its peculiar procedures, which if not retained, could come to make of it little more than a smaller, but second, House.
We know, as the distinguished Senators know, that a majority is by no means always right; but we believe, as we are sure you believe, that an informed majority is usually right, and we are ready to see our country's destiny in the hands of an informed two-thirds membership of the Senate.
The National Association of Pro America is more than willing on occasion to see the price paid, the time lag which must be the inevitable result, in order to preserve untrammeled the right of unrestricted debate which distinguishes the Senate of these United States from every other deliberative body in the world.
There have been, and no doubt will be, abuses of this right of unlimited debate. We of Pro America recognize, as do you Members of the Senate, that there are disadvantages in free debate equally as there are disadvantages inherent in proposals of limited debate. We ask to point out, however, that the disadvantages inherent in limitation other than that presently in effect may include the element of danger, as well; and we think they do. The danger will be disavowed, on the ground that it would never eventuate. We believe, however, it to be a dictate of wisdom that policy should not be amended in such a way as to, by such alteration, establish a principle which may at some time unforeseen make possible a situation of “clear and present danger."
The great beneficiary of free debate is the momentary minority. There is a minority opinion on any and every given question which may come before the Senate or before another body. The personnel