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Senator Javits. I notice you referred to Jefferson. I am sure you know, Mr. Taylor, from your research, that in Jefferson's time they had the rule of the previous question, which permitted a majority to shut off debate.
Now, is that, do you feel, consistent or inconsistent with your own position?
Mr. TAYLOR. Well, you can quote Jefferson on almost every side of every question.
Senator Javits. Well, this is not a quotation. Jefferson's Manual provided for the previous question.
Mr. TAYLOR. I do not believe in the previous question, no, sir. That is where I part company with Mr. Jefferson.
Senator JAVITS. Well, thank you, Mr. Taylor. I do not wish to protract your testimony.
Senator TALMADGE. Mr. Taylor, I appreciate your statement. It shows very great research, and I congratulate you on the excellence of your presentation. Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Senator.
Senator TALMADGE. Mrs. Alexander Jenkins?
Mrs. JENKINS. Senator Talmadge, Senator Javits, I appreciate the privilege of speaking before your committee this morning.
Senator TALMADGE. What group do you represent, Mrs. Jenkins ? Mrs. JENKINS. I represent no group. Senator TALMADGE. You are here as an individual ? Mrs. JENKINS. I am an individual. I was a former chairman of the Maryland Committee for Representative Government.
I have asked to appear in opposition to changing rule 22 because of my observation of the sessions and hearings, over a period of 6 years, of the City Council of Baltimore.
I have learned firsthand of the precious right we American citizens still retain under our form of government. The more extensive the hearings and debate on the floor, the sounder is the resulting action.
Your true statesman does not fear unlimited debate. He is willing to accept full information on the issue. He welcomes the shared responsibility of an enlightened public opinion.
I am not equipped to discuss the fine points of the seven proposals for changing rule 22, but I am prepared to present material that proves its value.
The longest filibuster by one man in the Senate came in 1953, when Senator Wayne Morse spoke 22 hours and 26 minutes against a bill giving rights to offshore oil to the States. In the course of his remarks, the Senator discussed topics such as events in his own political life, filibusters, the Korean war, psychology, and the decline of American civilization.
Senator Morse is the author of pending resolution 21 and a sponsor of resolution 17, to restrict debate in existing rule 22.
Gentlemen, the authors of the Constitution regarded the Senate as a continuing body. Only one-third of the Senate is elected every 2 years. The Constitution does not provide for the adoption of new rules every 2 years.
Senator Taft stated in the Congressional Record, January 16, 1953, page 99, and I quote :
We must disregard the question of civil-rights issues as affected by the rules predicated on the ground that here is an abuse which justifies the setting aside of the precedents of the Senate. I say there is no abuse. I say we have rules and we can operate under them.
Many a filibuster has been conducted with patriotic purpose and grim determination. Senator Carter, of Montana, in the closing hours of the 56th Congress, talked to death the pending rivers and harbors bill in a speech of 14 hours. Had the bill been brought to a vote, it is certain that it would have been passed, and that it would have been vetoed. But that Senator Carter was not thwarting the will of the majority was evidenced by the fact that at the end of his oration he was surrounded by a throng of grateful Senators and Representatives eager to thank him for saving them from the necessity of voting on a bill in which they did not believe, but which contained “pork" for every one of their States.
In the special session of the Senate in March 1917, Senator La Follette vigorously opposed a proposed rule to effect cloture. He said, and I quote:
Believing that I stand for democracy, for the liberties of the people of this country, for the perpetuation of our free institutions, I shall stand while I am a Member of this body against any cloture that denies free and unlimited debate.
Sir, the moment that the majority imposes the restriction contained in the pending rule, that moment you will have dealt a blow to liberty. You will have broken down one of the greatest weapons against wrong and oppression that the Members of this body possess:
Vice President Charles G. Dawes, immediately after taking his oath of office, scathingly denounced the Senate rules and demanded their thoroughgoing reform. The most formal and outspoken opposition to the Dawes program of reform came from the American Federation of Labor in their national convention. It unanimously condemned the Vice President's campaign to abolish free speech in the United States Senate, and urged thatevery publicity be given to the denunciation by labor of the Dawes, scheme which does not come from the people but emanates from the secret chambers of the predatory interests.
Their statement continued :
For several months the Vice President of the United States has conducted an agitation for the purpose of abolishing free speech in the United States Senate, the only forum in the world where cloture does not exist, and where members can prevent the passage of reactionary legislation. The railroad industry, the great oil industry, and other great industries in the United States, want to make it possible for a handful of men in the United States Senate to control all legislation. It is a vicious idea, a vicious purpose, to which the Vice President of the United States has loaned himself.
That is the end of the quote from the American Federation of Labor in convention.
Men of longer memories could but contrast the sweeping condemnation erupting from a Vice President who, at the moment, was facing the Senate for the first time, with the far more tolerant judgment which had been expressed by Vice President Stevenson as he left the office after 4 years of service as the Senate's presiding officer. Vice President Stevenson said this:
It must not be forgotten that the rules governing this body are founded in deep human experience, that they are the result of centuries of tireless effort in legislative halls to conserve, to render stable and secure, the rights and liberties which have been achieved by conflict. By its rules the Senate wisely fixes the limits of its own powers. Of those who clamor against the Senate and its methods of procedure, it may be truly said they know not what they do. That is the end of the quotation. In the weeks which followed the Vice President's explosion, one significant fact was the frequent avowal of a belief that the Senate rules had at any rate manifested the qualities of their defects; that the filibuster had killed more bad bills than good ones. Said the Senate minority leader: In no single instance has a measure of outstanding importance defeated through resort to filibuster been subsequently revived. In every case where a considerable minority has resorted to the utmost extremity to prevent a vote upon a bill, it has been based on the contention that the proposal is inconsistent with the spirit of American institutions, violative of the fundamental principles of our Government and, if thoroughly understood, would be rejected as subversive of American civilization. It was the intent of the framers of the Constitution to secure from the Senate a different point of view, a more mature judgment than that of the House. To those ends the longer term, the more advanced age, the smaller numbers, the equal representation, were all expected to conduce. What is sorely needed in Congress is seldom greater speed, but always more thorough consideration in lawmaking. In these days of weakened party discipline, the temporary majority that group combinations may today give to a pending measure may by no means indicate a responsible majority's conviction that the measure is wise; nor is it safe to assume, in blocking a given piece of legislation, a minority or even a single Senator is thwarting the will of a majority of the Senate. - - a Professor Lindsay Rogers, of Columbia University, in the preface of his book, The American Senate, states, and I quote: The undemocratic usurping Senate is the indispensable check and balance in the American system, and only complete freedom of debate permits it to play this role. Its power comes in large part from the guillotine to which the House of Representatives submits, a procedure which has attracted scant attention, and is the more indispensable because it is directed against government by favorable publicity through the medium of the White House “Spokesman.” Adopt cloture in the Senate, and the character of the American Government will be pronouncedly changed. Gentlemen, it is my earnest hope that in these times of confusion and controversy, the integrity of rule 22 will be undisturbed. I thank you for your courtesy in permitting me to make this statement. Senator TALMADGE. Mrs. Jenkins, we appreciate very much your coming before us with your very fine statement. Any questions? Senator JAVITs. I have no question on the statement, Mrs. Jenkins. I wondered how you heard about these hearings. Mrs. JENKINs. Yes. I subscribe to the Congressional Record. Senator JAVITs. So you knew about them. Mrs. JENRINs. Yes, and I am a very avid reader of it. Senator JAVITs. Thank you. Senator TALMADGE. Thank you so much.
Mrs. JENKINS. Thank you.
Senator TALMADGE. The next witness is Mr. Andrew J. Biemiller, legislative director, AFL-CIO.
Senator JaviTS. Mr. Biemiller is one of my former colleagues in the House, Mr. Chairman, and I am very glad to see him here in a new role today.
STATEMENT OF ANDREW J. BIEMILLER, LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR,
AFL-CIO, WASHINGTON, D. C. Mr. BIEMILLER. Thank you, Senator.
Mr. Chairman, my name is Andrew J. Biemiller. I am director of the department of legislation of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, and I am appearing here today to present the views of our organization on Senate rule 22.
Let me say at the outset that we recognize that the rules of the Senate are a subject for internal Senate determination. As a former Member of Congress, I personally recognize that the rules of procedure are established by each House at its own discretion.
We are pleased, however, that Senators themselves, and this committee in particular, recognize that the effects of the operation of rule 22 are felt far beyond the confines of the Senate Chamber.
Rule 22 now provides that debate on any issue may be closed only after two-thirds of the Senators duly chosen and sworn vote to close it. In a full Senate, this means that 64 Senators, or 15 more than a constitutional majority, must rally together to close debate on any measure, no matter how important it may be to the well-being of the people of our Nation, so that the majority may be able to act.
The effect of this rule is that a minority of only 33 Senators can at any time thwart the will of a majority of the Senate, a majority which otherwise could conclusively dispose of the business before the Senate.
Mr. Chairman, our Nation politically is a liberal democracy. It is founded on the principle that the majority will create and effectuate the policies of the Government. This principle is followed in every phase of our political life and at every level of Government, local, State and National.
The majority of the people who vote on Election Day select the men and women who will make our laws and who will execute them. In our legislatures, local, State and National, laws are adopted and issues are resolved on this same principle of majority rule.
Within this framework of majority rule, we retain constitutional guaranties which protect the basic rights of individuals, rights which cannot be taken from them by even the largest of majorities.
With these two principles of majority rule and minority rights, our forefathers created, and we carry on, probably the greatest and most successful system for free Government that the world now knows or has ever known. But in this one instance we can and should correct a glaring example of undemocratic procedure.
In its effect, rule XXII simply means that whenever a minority of the Senate so desires, it can enforce upon the Senate, not a system of simple majority rule, but one in which a two-thirds majority is required for the transaction of Senate business.
Through the enforcement of rule XXII, majority rule, 1 of the 2 basic principles of our form of Government, is abandoned to minority rule.
It is no defense to say that the rule is seldom invoked, that filibusters are rare, and that few issues arouse sufficient opposition to cause a filibuster. Since the adoption of rule XXII in 1917, there have been some 22 attempts at cloture. Of these 22 attempts, only 4 have been successful in cutting off debate; and of these, none has been more recent than 1927.
Of these 22 cloture votes, 8 have been attempts to cut off debate and bring to a vote measures dealing with the civil rights of our people.
Since 1938, 2 attempts to bring to a vote an antilynching bill, and 3 attempts to bring to a vote an FEPC bill, have failed. Three antipoll tax bills have met a similar fate.
Thus, in 8 of 22 cloture attempts, the proposed legislation which was defeated by being talked to death was civil rights legislation; legislation ironically intended to enhance the protection of minority rights.
It is interesting to note that the platform of both major political parties in 1956 called for Federal action to implement the civil rights planks in those platforms. For example, the Democratic platform said:
We will continue our efforts to eradicate discrimination based on race, religion or national origin. We know this task requires action, not just in one section of the Nation, but in all sections. It requires the cooperative efforts of individual citizens and action by State and local governments. It also requires Federal action.
In somewhat more limited language, the Republican platform also calls for Federal action:
This administration has impartially enforced Federal civil rights statutes, and we pledge that it will continue to do so. We support the enactment of the civil rights program already presented by the President to the second session of the 84th Congress.
In addition, the Democratic platform specifically states: In order that the will of the American people may be expressed on all legislative proposals, we urge that action be taken at the beginning of the 85th Congress to improve congressional procedures so that majority rule prevails and decisions can be made after reasonable debate without being blocked by a minority in either House.
If these phrases are to be more than mere words, representatives of these two great political parties must take action to amend Senate rule XXII; otherwise, the implementation of their platforms can be accomplished only with great effort under the most adverse conditions, while other important legislation is delayed or sidetracked. Unless and until that is done, the American people can only assume that that political platform is a jumble of words signifying nothing.
From the time of its founding convention, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations has firmly supported the principle of majority rule for the Senate of the United States.
At that convention a resolution was unanimously adopted which states in part:
As an essential preliminary to the enactment of civil rights legislation, we urge that the rules be so amended that the will of the Congress may not be stulti