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Let us forget about the closed rule. Let us talk about energy. Everybody is concerned about energy.
There are 17 different committees on the Hill holding hearings on energy. The media cannot cover all of those hearings.
How is the public going to know?
Representative PEPPER. That is how we need to continue our process of improvement, and there is a committee that is now coming up on legislation, and it is tentatively prepared for voting in the House, as to whether those are desirable recommendations or not, but the trend is to make our legislative processes more effective, as the governing authorities of the people of a great country.
What we are doing today in my opinion is very relevant to that.
Chairman METCALF. The whole process, I think we all agree, is to let the people know, and let them see, and these other reforms will follow. When we demonstrate some of our inadequacies, which are now hidden and concealed, if we get them out in the open, we will have a better opportunity to take care of them.
Representative GIAIMO. Congressman Pepper, it is always good to hear you testify. It is a pleasure to have the privilege of listening to you today.
One of the things that bothers me is that we do not get into a misconception of what we are trying to do here today.
I am not suggesting that you did this. However, as I was listening to you and some of the other witnesses, one of the things that bothered me is that I hear witnesses or members of the committees talking about the performance of Congress, and the accent seems to be upon televised hearings in the House. It seems to me that in our efforts to communicate to the American people what we are trying to do, we have to be able to communicate to TV; we have to communicate the whole message, in other words, that everything that transpires in Congress does not transpire on the floor of the House, because this could be highly dangerous, as you know.
In many instances, nothing is transpiring on the floor of the House. Witness last week and this week to date, and the fact is in committees there is a great deal going on. The oversight function that Congressman Cleveland spoke about is one of the most important functions that Congress should perform, and quite frankly does not perform, and should gear itself up to performing
That is one of the real troubles that we have to date—that we are not looking at the executive agencies as best we should to see how well they are carrying out the laws which we passed in past years. And so, do you have any ideas on how we could utilize television to this effect, apart from televising the debates on the floor of the House ?
Representative PEPPER. Before I answer that, will my friend give me the permission to say, you remember we had the House Select Committee on Crime.
We had hearings in six cities of the country on drugs in the schools, starting off with New York, and including Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, Kansas City, Kans., and Los Angeles, I believe, five States.
In most of those cities, when we first went in we got very little cooperation from the school boards. In my county of Dade, we could hardly get any of the school authorities there when we started off our hearings.
The county had asked the school authorities to make these studies. They had not done it, but we had TV coverage, we had appropriate authorities come in and give the facts about this problem. Something more ought to be done.
There ought to be these studies in every one of those six cities wherein-within a few months after we had those hearings, there were very substantial programs on the way by the school authorities to do something about the drug problems.
Now, the media had brought that question, that problem home to the people, but now to get to the more localized question, my friend, yes, that is sort of humdrum, the nonspectacular.
They will listen to a Watergate committee, they will listen to a Kefauver committee.
Well, what about the routine business of the committees? That is where I say we ought to use public television more, give the people something, but they do not have to look at it. That is one thing, you can turn off the TV with a flick of the finger, and even the President of the United States cannot make you turn it back on, so the people are sovereign when it comes to what they see and hear, but if somebody will cover the committees, what every committee is doing and saying, but if we could maybe encourage the media if we had staff that could point out to the media where to go.
I know they are busy, but they have limited staff. Look, this committee is doing so and so today, you might be interested in what they are doing over here.
I am not talking about propaganda. Just trying to give them an opportunity to keep constantly abreast is all I am talking about, so that at home and in the evening, if I wanted to turn on and get a pretty good résumé of what the committees in the House have done that day that would amount to anything, I would get it, or what the legislative programs for next week is, I might want to listen tomorrow if I knew the energy bill was going to be up, it would have been a good idea if we had radio and TV coverage in the Rules Committee this morning when we voted on the energy conference report.
Representative BROOKS. Did we get a rules clause?
Mr. Staggers said it is going to be difficult to save the bill. We did not intend that. The idea was that points of order were not waived with respect to 110 which has to do with the price rollback, and 105 which has to do with the President's recommendation becoming law, and also which had to do with rises. We did provide there could be a special vote on that provision permitting the President to ration in the conference report. What was really intended is that the House itself should determine what they wanted to do about those two or three controversial sections, but in some way, if we could get the more humdrum, the more routine, that which is also the very important conflicts of Congress, it would be in the public interest, and maybe if we had used the public television more, we could get broader coverage in the critical areas that are not so spectacular.
Representative GIAIMO. We have been talking about trying to get the American people to understand the real function of Congress, how Congress functions and operates, and you just brought up an interesting example of it.
You just told us what happened in the Rules Committee. You told us about waiver of points of order, which I am sure most American people do not understand, to say nothing of our Members of Congress, but it is this kind of activity that if we are going to have television coverage there has to be, in my opinion, an educational process along with it. Otherwise, if people heard you talking and arguing in the Rules Committee this morning about waiving points of order on cer. tain aspects of legislation, I think it would be lost, and they would have to have information—to have an explanation of it—and this would have to go hand in hand with the television type coverage.
Representative PEPPER. Maybe somebody in some way, maybe the appropriate committees could see to it that proper explanations were given that would make the people better able to understand some of the technical parliamentary proceedings.
Representative GIAIMO. People have written to me in great anger in the last several weeks about the energy crisis, as I am sure they have written to you, and about why Congress doesn't do something about it. When I tell them it is tied up in the Rules Committee or that it is tied up in Conference Committee, they really do not know what I mean.
They really want to know why I am not doing something to get it out of there. They do not realize that a small minority can many times stall or delay legislation.
Representative PEPPER. There are two previous meetings to the one we held this morning that are a tie vote, so the motion to report it out failed, because it was a tie vote, there is a strong difference of opinion in the committee on certain aspects.
Representative GIAMO. Thank you.
Chairman METCALF. Well, thank you very much, Congressman Pepper, for coming here.
As I said before, I can remember when you were a Member of the Senate, a most eloquent Member, a most persuasive Member, and you came to Montana in those days, and we welcomed you there. You have continued your efforts for reform as a Member of the House, and your experience has been very helpful to this committee.
Representative PEPPER. Mr. Chairman, I hope you will allow me without any embarrassment to you to say what gratification I have had to see you follow in the illustrious and beloved footsteps of Jim Murray, and all of the others who carried the great steps forward in the Congress of the United States.
I have been very proud of the great record you have made.
Chairman METCALF. Those footsteps of Jim Murray are pretty hard to follow. He took pretty long strides.
Congressman Pepper, thank you very much.
[Documents submitted by Congressman Pepper appear in the Appendix on p. 638.]
Chairman METCALF. Congressman McClory, a good friend, has notified me he is unable to be here.
He has a statement, and it will be incorporated into the record.
And now I am delighted to have as our next witness, another good friend, one of the distinguished Members of the U.S. Senate, Bill Brock, who is also a former Member of the House. Senator Brock and I have worked very closely in trying to get budgetary reform legislation enacted and we have worked together on other congressional activities.
There is no Member of the Senate who is more respected than Bill Brock, and we are delighted to have you here as the final witness at today's hearing. STATEMENT OF HON. BILL BROCK, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE
STATE OF TENNESSEE Senator BROCK. I thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will try to be brief if I may.
I would like to thank you for taking the initiative and holding these hearings, which are of enormous importance to all of us, and for your continuing interest and your leadership.
I think before I address the remarks I have with me, I would just like to followup with a couple of comments that were made by the previous witness, and to some of the questions, and particularly to Mr. Cleveland, with regard to exercise of the rules function.
Chairman METCALF. Please do. You have waited very patiently.
Senator BROCK. I was interested in the exchange. My distinguished colleague from New Hampshire raised some valid points when he said the Congress, in effect, has to earn recognition by exercising its oversight responsibilities, and I could not agree more.
I might point out that I was somewhat disappointed in the House, in striking from the budget reform bill the strongest oversight section from the bill.
I hope that we are able to hold that in the Senate side.
I also was interested in the Senator's, Senator Pepper's remarks, now a Congressman, in which he said perhaps we should take some effort to guarantee equal, and maybe even preferential access on the part of the Congress to the national media.
I am really not sure that I can accept that. I am most interested in the television coverage of the Congress, of the committees, in the sessions of Congress, but maybe it is my traditional, conservative upbringing, I conjure up all kinds of dangerous visions when I hear the possibility of guaranteeing equal or preferential access to the free airwaves of this country, and that bothers me somewhat.
I am not sure that is what he meant, but it is something that we should be very cautious with in protecting the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech, and I might point out-that we have access to our constituents through the use of the frank, which others do not have.
Mr. Chairman, no one could read the latest polls—more particularly the Louis Harris survey on public attitudes regarding Government which was prepared for our Government Operations Committee without being concerned by the manner in which Congress perceived by the American people. This country operates on faith, and to the extent that public confidence is eroded, so too is our capacity for selfgovernment.
I noted the testimony of Prof. Bertram Gross of the City University of New York, in which he said, “Historically, the Congress is the country's great public forum. But who listens?
“And how—as the mass media now operates—can the great mass of the American people follow what is going on in Congress ?”
Representative BROOKS. Did you say the President does not have the franking privilege?
Senator BROCK. I have never seen direct constituent mail from the President on a mass basis. Maybe he has it. I do not know if he ever exercises it.
Representative BROOKS. Not only does the President have it, but he has it after he goes out of office, and his wife does, and last week I got a frank letter from Mrs. Johnson.
Senator BROCK. They are able to respond. I do not know if they can initiate.
From my own point of view, perhaps the most important step that can and should be taken is to open up the Congress to full public view. Time and again in the Harris survey individuals pointed out how frustrated they were with the inability to find out what was going on, what their Representatives were or were not doing.
We made an excellent step forward with the passage of the change in rules last fall which emanated from the bill that Lawton Chiles and I and others cosponsored to open up committee markup sessions. That bill represented a good step forward, but much remains to be done in this area.
Given the current perception of Congress by the people of this country, it is not difficult to understand that suspicion which exists when people do not know what is going on. That can be partially remedied by more open sessions.
Second, I think it is important that we address ourselves to the problem of communication. Generally, the mass media do an excellent job of covering Congress in national publications or those which are nationally recognized and have the staff to devote to this effort.
The problem is far more difficult for those of a regional or local nature. This problem cannot be addressed by television which is so structured in its time availability. Full and adequate coverage can only be maintained if all resources are utilized.
As I said, I am most interested in full and adequate coverage.
Perhaps one vehicle would be the establishment of an office of the Congress to perform a service function for all elements of the media. For example, daily and weekly summaries could be of use to libraries, educational institutions, and smaller radio and newspaper facilities.
Such an office could perform a response service on inquiry from such institutions, as well as provide an access for the larger units of the national media to sources of information which might not otherwise be available.