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There is a great freedom of debate in Alabama. I don't know offhand just what the technicalities of the rule are, but I do know that frequently the senate of the State legislature does prolong debate. Usually it comes out very much the same way as prolonged debates do by both sides finally getting together and agreeing on some practical course for the time being
However, I don't think it is the same within a State. The State governments were set up originally as sovereign governments and the sovereignty lodges in the State and no part of the sovereignty is within the lower political subdivisions except as they are a part of the State as a whole. But that is not true in the Federal Government.
The United States Government as a whole is a Federal Government in which there are two sovereignties, the sovereignty of the Federal Government which is only that which the States gave it, and the sovereignty of the respective States.
By the way, I remind you that up until 1913, I believe it was, States were represented in the Congress of the United States as such. They still are, but what I mean is that up to that time the two Senators were selected by the State legislatures and were regarded as representing the States and not necessarily the people within the States.
Members of the House of Representatives represent the people of their respective districts. But from the inception of our Government, Senators were here representing the sovereign States, and I think it makes a great difference and is not at all analogous to the situation within an andividual State.
I simply anticipate the question that you might put to me regarding Alabama and that would be my answer to it.
Should a group of States from one section of the Nation band together to force a law upon a second section by barring Senators from the second section from having the opportunity to present the debates of that section's convictions upon the floor?
The House of Representatives represents only a geographical subdivision of the State. The executive branch has no direct responsibility to the State. The Supreme Court, because of the very nature of its functions and the conditions under which it was effectively established, was effectively isolated from the individual States. That leaves only two Senators from each State to look after the individual and minority interests of each State.
That is why it is important that the present rule requiring 64 Senators to vote in favor of limiting debate be retained. Free debate is essential to protect minorities from ruthless majorities.
Democracy does not necessarily mean simple majority rule. There are many instances in which a simple majority has no power.
I simply mention, for instance, Senate ratification of treaties requiring two-thirds vote; Senate approval of a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote; ratification of a constitutional amendment requiring a favorable three-fourths vote of the States; and, of course, the present rule that 64 Senators—that is, two-thirds of those duly chosen and sworn-must vote in favor of cloture in order to shut off debate.
The Constitution contains certain rights guaranteed to each individual person, rights which not even a majority of our 170 million population can take away.
Unlimited debate, or, as most people call it, the filibuster, serves especially as a protection against unwarranted invasion of the Federal Government into the private rights of minority groups. Unlimited debate has been minutely considered in the past and has been approved by the Senate.
The rule is a sound one, passed after long consideration, and is an effective tool against passage of hysterically written and emotionally debated legislation.
By the way, Mr. Chairman, I think it is most interesting to consider the history of this rule.
It is rather strange; a great many people have the idea that rule XXII is something that has been imposed upon the people of this country within recent years. As a matter of fact, rule XXII is a liberalization of what existed prior to that time. Up until 1917, I think it was, there was no limit on debate what
In 1917, I believe, it was the question of arming merchant ships that produced the prolonged debate. President Wilson described it as that little group of willful men, I believe, and that is what it was that led up to a modification of the lack of any rule prior to that time.
As a matter of fact, you may be interested to know-you know it already, I presume—that the fight for writing some rule was led by a very eminent statesman from my State, Oscar W. Underwood. That is when they wrote into the rules that, under certain conditions, cloture could be imposed.
But, under the interpretation that was given at that.time and under the rulings, numerous rulings of the Presiding Officer of the Senate subsequent to that time, it was held not to apply to motions.
Now, rule XXII, the present version of rule XXII, was adopted only a few years ago. I think it was 1948.
Senator Javits. 1949.
Senator SPARKMAN. 1949. I was in the Senate at the time. And it was a further liberalization of the rule that was adopted in 1917 in that it was made to apply to motions as well as to resolutions and bills under consideration.
I think we ought to keep that in mind; that the present rule is an evolution from a time when there was no such thing as cloture at all in the Senate of the United States, and I see no need of going further. I believe in the system of this Government of ours. I believe in this system of checks and balances, and I don't believe it ought to be disturbed.
I believe in the protection that the Constitution of the United States gives, both to individuals and to minorities. It doesn't set up a government necessarily of the majority. It sets up a government in which guaranties are sought to be imposed for all citizens of the United States, whether it is a part of the majority or a part of the minority, and I want to protest against any change in the present rule XXII.
Senator TALMADGE. Any questions?
Senator Javits. I just wanted to express my personal pleasure to Senator Sparkman, before whom I have personally appeared many times, both as a Member of the House and a Senator, in having him appear before a subcommittee of which I have the honor to be a member.
Senator, I would just like to share with you one brief observation. I hope you won't consider me presumptious. I think, if there is anyone who advocates the position of the South who is a reasonable human being and an intelligent human being, it is the Senator from Alabama. I hope very much to earn that same description myself, though I am very much on the other side.
But I would like to say to the Senator that I think the situation today is somewhat analogous to 1917 in that I believe those who oppose the change in rule XXII are facing the test on the Senate floor right now and that, regardless of what any of us may wish, I think the same historic forces which brought on the rule in 1917 are very likely to bring on the change if, as a country, we don't measure up to this challenge which we are all meeting-it goes for me as well as for those on the other side-on the floor now. That is my conviction.
I want to express it to the Senator, for whom I have a very great affection as a friend.
Senator SPARKMAN. Well, as long as there are rules, I believe in abiding by the rules. When 64 Senators vote to shut off debate, we who should be debating will yield to the 64 Senators. That will be the rules of the game. I am not in favor of changing those rules in the middle of the game.
Senator JAVITS. The Senator favors the rule as it stands now?
Senator SPARKMAN. I favor the rule as it stands and, furthermore, I want to say this, in all due deference to you whom I have known and served with in the House and I have known as a very fine and fairminded representative of your people and always very able and frank in the expression of your views: I want to say that I am of the opinion that, if it were not for the existence of the so-called civilrights issue, there would be no advocacy of the change of this rule, and I think that is most unfortunate.
I don't think I have to state my views. I have stated them many times before. I am sure the Senator from New York is familiar with them. I think that it is most unfortunate that this so-called civilrights problem has been made a political problem, and it is. There is just no getting around it. It is wrapped up in politics. I thinkI have said this ofttimes—that, if a truly earnest effort were made to work it out on the basis that is much more important, that is, an economic basis, the solution would come much more rapidly than it is coming by the semiforce methods.
Anyone familiar with our section of the country is bound to know of the tremendous progress that has been made within recent years, in which the racial tensions have virtually disappeared and the people have learned to live together and to prosper together. It has been an economic problem. As long as there wasn't enough to go around, naturally, somebody was going to be shortchanged. That is a rule of human nature, and that is just what took place. That is the reason that we didn't have the good schools for the Negroes. We didn't have them for the white children.
But you go to the average southern city today and you will find better schools for the Negroes than you will find for the whites. It is catching up. As our economic recovery took place, we had more to spread around, and our people have been catching up and, as a result,
ofttimes—well, I would say in the average southern city, large towns, you will find better schools, buildings, and equipment for the Negro children than you do for the white children, more modern.
Senator Talmadge knows the situation that prevails in Georgia. I can only speak for Ålabama. But for, I guess, 30 years, we have had a law, and it hasn't been merely a law-it has been enforced law-whereby every child in the State of Alabama has the same number of schooldays. There is nothing said about color. Every school teacher with the same training and experience gets the same pay, and there is no distinction at all made in it.
The improvement has come about in almost exactly the same manner and to the same degree that economic improvement has come about, and it convinces me, and it strengthens me in the conviction that I have long had that, basically, the problem is enonomic, and I think it is terribly bad and near tragic that it has become so deeply involved in politics.
Senator Javits. Well, Senator Sparkman, I guess we will have plenty of opportunity to debate this. I don't want to detain you any longer this morning.
Senator TALMADGE. Senator Sparkman, I want to thank you for your very fine statement, and express my apologies for not being here at the outset of your remarks. However, I was before your own committee at that time endorsing the nomination of Hon. Erle Cocke, Sr., to the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Thank you, sir.
Senator SPARKMAN. He is a very fine man, and I shall go up there and, if they haven't voted yet, I will vote for him.
Senator TALMADGE. Thank you.
Senator TALMADGE. I believe Senator Saltonstall is due in about 20 minutes, so we will proceed with the next witness, Mr. Merwin K. Hart, of New York City, president of the National Economic Council.
Mr. Hart, we are very happy to have you with us, and you may proceed at will, sir.
STATEMENT OF MERWIN K. HART, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL
ECONOMIC COUNCIL, NEW YORK, N. Y. Mr. Hart. Mr. Chairman, Senator Javits, on behalf of the National Economic Council, I thank this committee for the opportunity to appear and speak on the proposed changes in rule XXII.
While the Senate rules are primarily the concern of the members of the Senate, yet in a larger sense this rule XXII is of vital importance to the whole people, since it insures unlimited debate. And unlimited debate always has been a guaranty against over-hasty legislation.
Since the freedom the American people enjoy includes freedom of speech, with the accompanying freedom to petition the Government against grievances, real or alleged, this freedom of necessity permits activities not only by those who wish to preserve, but by those who are willing, for whatever reason, to destroy, any of the freedoms we enjoy.
The movement to change rule XXII is, of course, championed by Communists. I say "of course” because, whatever its sponsorship in the past, it is presently one of the many measures that pattern the effort to bring all power into Federal hands, from which a Communist take-over could be most easily accomplished.
We hear incessant talk these days about the virtues of democracy. But the constitutional convention discarded democracy, just as it discarded monarchy, when it was considering the form of government to set up in the United States. It discarded democracy on the ground that throughout history democracy had always failed.
What they set up was a republic—a government with a separation of powers into legislative, executive, and judicial, with its accompanying checks and balances. Through its Bill of Rights it guaranteed the individual citizen against encroachment by either Federal or State governments—even encroachment by a majority-with respect to the citizen's fundamental rights.
The lower House of Congress, with its 435 members, is perhaps compelled to fix a limit on debate. Hence, as a rule it has been possible for certain measures that many think unwise to slip through the House because of insufficient consideration and debate.
But the Senate, with only 96 members, is different. By rule XXII the Senate has reserved to itself the right and duty of examining, at length and without reference to the time spent in debate, measures, unwise or inadequate, some of which may have come from the House.
This, we take it as private citizens, is the reason for the existence of rule XXII. We agree thoroughly with Senator Russell of Georgia, who said in 1951 that,
Grave evils often result from hasty legislation, rarely from the delay which follows discussion and deliberation.
During the past 20 years, many important measures have been passed by Congress under the pressure of war or depression or some other crisis, real or alleged. We can see now that it would have been far better for this country if some of these measures had not been passed.
As things are today, the existence of rule XXII is about the only remaining bulwark the people have against unwise legislation by the Congress.
I spoke a few moments ago of the right that any group, of whatever turn of thought, has to organize and petition the Congress, that is, to engage in lobbying. For the past 30 or 40 years this country has been under constant pressure from collectivist influences, Socialist and Communist. And it has been shown that these influences have no lack of financial support. Some of this support may come from outside the United States. Americans who give money to strengthen these influences certainly receive their initial inspiration, whether they realize it or not, from outside the United States. Thus the Communist Internationale in 1922 established the International Red Aid—the IRA-in order to promote the weakening of the immigration laws of various countries, particularly the United States. The American section of IRA, organized in 1925 as the National Labor Defense, within 10 years has developed 800 subsidiary organizations. These, as we well know, include in their membership a tremendous number of wellmeaning and often well-heeled Americans who have worked aggressively at times to persuade the Congress to weaken its immigration laws.