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agencies, and they may be alarmed by the establishment of more without any checking of the ones we have got. So I just wonder if maybe inadvertently you haven't given us an example of perhaps one area where by improving our procedures and devoting more time to oversight, and perhaps less time to grinding out new programs, we might improve our public image. Would you like to comment on that?
Senator ROBERT C. BYRD. Of course you're correct. One of the most important responsibilities of a Congress lies in its oversight functions.
I am not sure if I understood your statement, I'm not sure that I would agree, perhaps I didn't, I was just inferring from what you said, I would not agree that Congress has not dutifully responded to its oversight functions.
I point to the hearings that were conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee on the nomination of Mr. L. Patrick Gray, as a splendid example of a responsible shouldering of its oversight responsibilities, its oversight functions under the Constitution.
I also point to the somewhat lengthy, comprehensive, and thorough hearings on the Richardson nomination, on the Saxbe nomination, on the nomination of Mr. Cox to be Special Prosecutor, and the nomination of Mr. Jaworski, his successor, on the molding of the guidelines that were to govern the activities of the Special Prosecutor; the Judiciary Committee of the Senate had a very considerable input into the construction of those guidelines.
Those are examples of the oversight workings of one committee, and I'm sure that that statement can be repeated with respect to many other Members, many other committees both in the Senate and in the House.
So I think that Congress has done far more in this area than the American people are aware of. I agree with you that it is one of the most important functions of the Congress and that Congress should not be judged as to whether it's a good Congress or a bad Congress merely on the basis of the quantity of laws passed.
I was using those figures to indicate that which we all know, that Congress is not all tied up in Watergate, nor are all the committees tied up in Watergate, that we've been going along with the other business of Congress, working dutifully on all of the committees, conducting our rollcalls, and effectively managing the legislative process, and enacting important bills, and confirming nominations.
I think I will let my response rest with that.
Representative CLEVELAND. Well, thank you very much. I am glad you do agree that oversight is important. Your comment that perhaps the public doesn't know about it makes one of the points that we're trying to make at these hearings. Some of the things that we do are relatively unnoticed, and the point of these hearings is to determine without dictating, how what we do can be projected to the public. In this connection—I'm still on the first page of your statement-you comment about the fact that we have a divided government.
For example, I as a Republican might question your statement as a Democrat, that Congress passed all of these bills. Maybe I voted against some of them, maybe they were wasteful, but isn't this what we are meant to be doing?
We have a two-party political system, and if your party proposes something, isn't it the duty of my party to question it vigorously, and openly, and publicly, and isn't this part of the problem?
Now, the public may think that this is devisive wrangling, but basically, isn't this the guts of the democratic, representative, gorernmental system that we have established here for almost 200 years? There are almost always two sides to any story. and the system of somebody proposing something and somebody challenging, improving it, in the long run will lead to better legislation.
And rather than being a minus, and this is the shocker, rather than being a minus, rather than being a bunch of people who are only arguing, this process should be one of our greatest strengths.
Senator ROBERT C. BYRD. Unfortunately, we are shown as wrangling, considerably more than perhaps we actually wrangle.
You're quite right, it is the duty of the minority party to question and to seek to improve, and to challenge, and to oppose, and the output, the final result of the legislative process is greatly improved by virtue of this fact.
And it is to be expected that the opposition is going to oppose the positions that are taken by the majority.
I think it ought to be said here, that the output of the Congress, and I think it is commendable, especially in this Congress, is due considerably to the fine cooperation the majority party gets from the minority party.
In the Senate we have an excellent working relationship between the minority and the majority leadership. I think it is a responsible relationship but I don't think it can be said that in a situation where there is divided government, that we will naturally fall into this situation which I have attempted to describe, where the power of the Congress by virtue of its loyalty to the President, its dedication to his position on many issues, whether it intends to do so or not, I think the implication is there, and often it's expressly stated.
There is a strong criticism of the institution of which the minority is a part. I don't say they would agree, but I think that is one of the reasons why the people have this low opinion of the Congress, half of us are kicking the Congress around.
I think it's quite all right for the opposition to take a strong position on a given issue, but it is quite another matter for any party or any member of a party to point the finger of derision at the Congress, because if Congress fails, we all fail.
It is not the responsibility of the majority party alone, the majority leadership alone. It is the responsibility that also falls upon the minority party, the minority leadership, to make the system work, apart from our division on a certain issue.
Representative CLEVELAND. I think you made a good point and I agree with you that we shouldn't overly encourage the criticism of Congress as a body. But I'm sure by the same token you feel that it would be well within a Member's rights, whether a Member of the minority or the majority, to criticize and to criticize severely the institution, if the leadership of the institution failed to adopt reforms and procedures which evidence showed are necessary if we are to improve our procedures and performance and make it more understandable to the public.
For example, your proposal would be a very excellent proposal if, while letting the television cameras on the floor of the House and the Chamber of the Senate, you also suggested such reforms. And if you people—and when I say you people I'm referring to you as part of the leadership--don't do something about reform after a while, you will certainly agree it's not out of order for me to be critical of your failure to move, in that direction.
I mean that's not the type of criticism you're talking about.
Senator ROBERT C. Byrd. No, but I don't think any of us ought to be critical of the institution, that's where I may differ with you.
I think I caught that in the way you expressed it, I don't think that was the way you intended it.
I don't think we ought to be critical of the institution. I think we ought to be critical of ourselves, but I think we engage in too much of this self-flagellation.
I think what we ought to do is recognize that there is this need for communication between the Congress and the people, and try to do something about it, and I find that critical self-analysis is good, good for us.
Representative CLEVELAND. Thank you very much, Senator. Senator ROBERT C. BYRD. That's the way we make improvement.
Representative CLEVELAND. First of all, I agree with your proposal. I was interested to note in regard to your proposal about letting television into the Senate and the House and I would like to make this editorial a part of the record
Chairman METCALF. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Representative CLEVELAND [continuing). -an editorial of the Daily News that commented on some of the testimony in this area that we had in our hearings last week. The New York Daily News, exercising its prerogatives with reference to this proposal, noted that if the public saw Congress and all of its committees on television, more than a few of the members would be tossed out of office on election day. I will see that you get a copy of that editorial.
[A copy of the above-mentioned editorial appears in the Appendix on p. 958.]
I still think your proposal is a good one, and this particular editorial might be interesting to you.
Senator ROBERT C. BYRD. Well, I think if the people saw Congress and its committees in action, I think it might very well have a better understanding of some of the tremendous problems that we have in dealing with legislation.
I have served in committees in both Houses and as a general rule, I have found Members individually and collectively to be very, very serious and diligent and dedicated to their work.
Now, that gets into another area. I think we all ought to think about that, is that we're all on too many committees.
I'm on three committees in the Senate. I would gladly give up two of those committees or at least one if all of the other Members were required to give up one likewise.
Representative CLEVELAND. You may be interested to know that Mr. Bolling's committee working on restructuring of committees in the House has made precisely that proposal.
Senator ROBERT C. Byrd. Yes, personally I think it's a good proposal because, personally, I feel that my time is fragmented.
I don't feel that we can attend all of these committees, because naturally, there's 152 such committees in the Senate.
And of course if those committee hearings are subjected to television, there are going to be some empty seats, but I would imagine that a great many of them would be better attended than they are now, and I expect that the floor sessions would be better attended.
There are many things that we can do within our own respective Houses to deal with some of these problems to which you have referred.
Chairman METCALF. It should be noted, because the hearing is being broadcast, that the Senate has been in session for an hour today, and yet we are here on the House side discussing another matter. Other committees are meeting in various committee rooms, both on the Senate side and on the House side of the Capitol. I have no fear that, if cameras were permitted, there wouldn't be an adequate explanation of the way we must divide our time and attention.
Congressman Dellenback, we're glad to have you here. Representative DELLENBACK. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate the chance to read the statement of the Senator and to hear the dialog between the chairman and Mr. Cleveland and Mr. Byrd.
May I say the very point that we're talking about, about multiple committees and subcommittees, is an example of the situation that caused me to be slow getting here, because I had two other subcommittees that were in process, meeting this morning, and I left one of those to come to this, because I think what we're doing here as well as there is very important.
I think it's important, Senator Byrd, that for the sake of those who are in attendance today, as well as for the sake of others and for the record, that we make clear that this Joint Committee is walking a line, that we're not all aiming at self-adulation or standing up as a Joint Committee and having witnesses come before us as a Joint Committee and just criticize the Congress.
On the other hand, it's not our purpose to engage in selfglorification, or to become defensive about the professional role, congressional role, or to engage in public relations, because that's not a part of what the chairman was seeking to do, or that this committee is doing. We're not trying to see how we can do a more glamorous job, but we're trying to make it clear what we're doing in the Congress, not how to get fame or notoriety for ourselves.
Our basic concern has been the responsibility of the Congress, these are the issues on one hand, and what they represented in the House and the Senate.
How do we make our job more comprehensive, how do we get a better flow into us and a better flow out of us? It seems to me that basically as I read through your testimony that you're talking primarily about one aspect of what we do, and that is the news aspect.
An important part of our responsibility in the Congress, as our witnesses before us have said, and as you have said, is to make sure that that which we are actually doing is opened up to the news media, and you refer to the adversary relationship, and I think the phrase is in a sense a good one.
We should be open to the most intensive scrutiny that the news media want to give us, and in that sense we should do everything we can to upgrade the facilities as you suggested so that they can do a better job.
We should open up the floor and committee deliberations, and I'm pleased, quite frankly, that the Education and Labor Committee was
one of our leaders. Long before the House rules were modified the Education and Labor Committee was breaking ground in this particular regard.
The House has modified our rules as you know, and the Senate has made some modification of rules to open up deliberations so that there is more and more business being done, the public's business, in the public eye, if the news media want to report it.
You talk in terms of suggestions. I would ask about two other aspects of this, Senator.
Would you not agree that in addition to just saying look, whatever we're doing should be open to public scrutiny, and I join with my colleague from New Hampshire in saying however much we've done in this regard I think we have more to do. Don't we have an educational task beyond that, beyond the news task?
Should we not be doing something to help make clear to the public what it is that the roles of the Congress are?
I think there's a big misunderstanding now in the role of Congress, I'm not sure that they see clearly that we are policy setters, that we are procedure creators, but we are not administrators.
You can't have 535 Senators and Representatives running the price control, or wage control, or fuel allocation system. It is our responsibility to create the mechanisms, and to establish the policies under which the executive department will operate, and if they don't work well, then modify them.
Would there be anything that you would suggest to the committee, Senator, that we ought to be doing and can do constructively, in this aspect of our functioning ?
Senator ROBERT C. BYRD. At the moment, nothing more than I have suggested, that of opening up the floor debates and the working sessions of committees to television and radio broadcasting.
Representative DELLENBACK. There have been some suggestions that perhaps what we might do is affirmatively cooperate with public radio and television, and certainly with the principal media to approach them and cooperate with them and do what can be done so that we get the information out on specific programs, what a committee does and so on. The goal being that what we're actually doing on the floor of the Senate becomes familiar to the public and that they then understand us better.
Would you disagree with that kind of effort, Senator?
Senator ROBERT C. BYRD. Yes, I would be in support of such commentaries, provided they were knowledgeable ones and were stated and written by persons who clearly understood what was going on and were in a position to accurately convey that information to their listening and reading public.
Representative DELLENBACK. Some of the witnesses who were here previously, as Congressman Cleveland will recall, indicated that some years ago one of the television networks wanted to conduct such a program in the Senate and the House, to have a walk through the Congress, and he indicated to us that they ran into such a maze of rules and regulations and required permissions that it foundered.
They found out they had to get permission from so many people that they just weren't able to do it, and they gave up on the whole process.