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Mr. Chairman, I have no magic answer to the problem, but I do feel it is one of great urgency. People today find little that is encouraging about Congress.
While I do on occasion share that sense of frustration, I am also aware of the enormous sense of dedication which pervades this institution. We need to do a better job of communication, and I believe we can. Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today.
Chairman METCALF. Senator Brock, I am very grateful to you for your appearance.
You are one of the leaders in opening up Government Operations Committee markup sessions. We were able to correct an unfortunate provision in the Legislative Reorganization Act as a result of the work and leadership of yourself, Senator Chiles, and others. I am delighted that you came here this afternoon, and pointed out some of these problems.
I agree that my colleagues, with whom I have been associated in the years that I have been in Congress, have been men of dedication and purpose, but often have been misunderstood. One problem is that the great big issues are covered by superb magazine and newspaper writers, and by television, while other important but less dramatic issues are ignored.
I do not think surface mining was very well covered during markup in committee. The matter of strip mining is of great importance to this whole country, and the lack of coverage of such issues is what we are concerned about.
You know, Senator, I think some of our colleagues underrate the Congress. I have heard it argued that televising some of our sessions will cause some people to showboat.
I disagree. I think if we had continuous coverage of the Congress, I think you might cut out a little showboating. I think you might focus our debates more on the issues, and I think it would be beneficial to our process.
Representative Brooks. Senator, we are delighted to see you here again, and I recall our pleasant association when you were a Member of the House of Representatives. I congratulate you on your change of status.
Senator BROCK. I do not know which way I moved, but I treasure my years in the House greatly.
Chairman METCALF. Congressman Brooks and I came together to the House. I do not know if he made a wiser decision than I.
Senator BROCK. It is a question of what is the upper body sometimes.
Representative Brooks. What I wanted to do was comment briefly on your awareness of the summaries' usefulness to libraries, smaller radio and newspaper facilities. It is also useful to the Members of Congress, and as you undoubtedly know, this committee instituted and put out, maintained, and operated a very concise summary for the benefit of the Senate and the House, operated both separately for a period of time and were very well received. The Rules Committee of the Senate, whether or not they want to do it on a permanent basis, I do not know, but it is being considered.
I fully share your feeling that such a summary would be of considerable value, not only to the Members, but to educational institutions, and to radio, newspaper facilities, libraries, people who are interested in what goes on in Congress. It would be a concise, readable, and accurate analysis of what actually happened without having to read through the rather voluminous and sometimes tedious pages of the Congressional Record. I hope you will convey your interest to the House Administration Committee, and to the Senate Rules Committee, because both of those bodies, with a minimum expenditure of money, because we proved this could be done with a very small staff on a minimum budget, and have it available in the Members' offices by 30 to 45 ininutes after the House closed.
It would be worth doing. The only thing, and as a conservative concerned about money matters, like most of us who try to pay our grocery bills are now, the only problem is it requires for maximum utilization a terminal in each office, so that on say a 10-to-15-minute-lag basis, you have in your office an analysis of what is going on in the Senate for the use of your staff and yourself, the same in the House.
This will cost some money, but I think it would pay itself out in better informed Members of both bodies, and I would certainly appreciate your encouragement of both those groups, certainly the Senate Rules Committee.
I think there is a great future for that.
I completely agree with you. You know, sometimes I wonder if we are not penny wise and pound foolish up here.
We spend all that time debating $100,000 for an appropriation, and 5 minutes debating national defense with $60 billion in it, and if we are going to be responsive to our constituents, we have to have access to adequate information sources, and this kind of information source is crucial to us.
We have been working for a long time, some of us in the Senate and in the House, to achieve a data-retrievable system.
The House is ahead of the Senate in this matter, but I hope we will catch up.
It would be enormously productive for us to be able to have access to those sources of information, and I shall do the best I can to support that.
Representative BROOKS. I might say, for the record, that this has been one of the most nonpartisan issues that this committee has ever handled, and not only you have worked on it, and you are aware of it; but on our committee, particularly Congressman Cleveland has been an active leader and a worker in the efforts to get this summary put together, to function, the organization to function adequately, and to be considered by the House Administration Committee. I want to publicly say that we owe you a lot of gratitude for your determined effort in that field.
Chairman METCALF. On that note, we will recognize Congressman Cleveland.
Representative CLEVELAND. I thank you very much for your kind words, and I hope we can get this summary perfected in the House. It is in the House Administration Committee, and we are working on it now. But I want to warn you, Congressman Brooks and Senator
Metcalf, as soon as we do perfect this summary of what we have done, I want to carry this matter a step further. While it is all very well to tell the people of the country what we have done to them, I think we have also got to have a little scheduling and a little advance notice, so that before we do it to them, some of these people have fair notice.
That is right around the corner. The scheduling of the House which is the function of the Democratic leadership leaves a good deal to be desired. I am saying this as a fact of my own time, and we will come back to that.
Representative BROOKS. Jim, when your conscience is clear, you have only good thoughts up your sleeve. Surely the people will not object.
Senator BROCK. May I say amen, I hope you are successful.
Representative CLEVELAND. Senator Brock, I welcome you to these hearings.
I worked with you some years ago, and I have followed your career in the Senate with pleasure.
Senator, in my opening statement, I suggested among other reforms that perhaps a half hour could be reserved just before a vote-an important vote-for a summation by the proponents and the opponents of a particular proposal. I wonder if you could comment on whether or not that could be helpful, not only to Members who might not have been there for the full deliberations, but for the public, particularly if we do follow the proposals to have the electronic media come into the Senate and the House Chambers.
Senator BROCK. I think it would be enormously helpful.
I would point out we have one particular problem in the Senate that you do not have in the House, and that is in the sense of scheduling votes.
Under the circumstances, we do not have a time certain quite often for voting, unless it is by unanimous consent, and consequently it is more difficult to achieve that, but whatever the time is, I think it would be of great value to reserve at least a half hour if not a good deal more time on occasion of major issues for a summary of the alternative positions that we have to choose from.
I think it would be of benefit to the Congress and of benefit to the American people, and particularly if we are successful in our effort to get coverage, that is the thing that should be covered, that is where you reach the knob of the debate, and I think it would be helpful.
Chairman METCALF. Thank you very much, Congressman Cleveland. Congressman Giaimo?
Representative GIAIMO. I have no questions, Mr. Chairman, but I do want to thank Senator Brock for giving us the benefit of his thoughts.
Senator BROCK. I do not think there is any more important issue facing the country, including Watergate, energy, the economy, everything else, given the current state of the public confidence, there is nothing more important than reforming the Congress, this institution of the people, and I appreciate your effort in this regard.
Chairman METCALF. Let me concur with the statements of my colleagues, that we are indebted to you for your concern and your interest as demonstrated by opening up committee activities, and in appearing before the Rules Committee on various matters of reform. Some of your proposals may not take effect this year, or maybe even next year, but we have planted, under your leadership, some very important seeds.
It has been a pleasure to work with you over these years on such important matters as budget control, and I appreciate your cooperation.
Senator BROCK. Thank you, sir.
Chairman METCALF. I again want to call attention to the publication of the Congressional Research Service, and Mr. Stewart, prepared at the Joint Committee's request, entitled Congress and Mass Communications.
It is a very valuable document, and it has been referred to by many of the witnesses today.
I also want to thank National Public Radio for broadcasting these hearings, demonstrating the idea we are trying to get across about the importance of Congress and its communications needs.
This hearing will be recessed until tomorrow at 10 a.m., at which time we will reconvene in this same room. We will hear representatives of network television, CBS, ABC, and others, and discuss the facilities that they might provide us and still preserve the decorum and dignity that we want to preserve, both on the Senate floor and in the committees.
Unless there is anything else to come before the committee, we will be in recess until tomorrow at 10 a.m.
[Whereupon, the committee was in recess at 4 p.m.]
CONGRESS AND MASS COMMUNICATIONS
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 1974
U.S. SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in the Dirksen Office Building, Hon. Lee Metcalf, chairman, presiding.
Present: Senator Metcalf, and Representatives Brooks, Giaimo, Cleveland, and Dellenback.
Chairman METCALF. The Joint Committee on Congressional Operations will be in order.
Yesterday, the Joint Committee on Congressional Operations received informative and useful testimony from a number of Members of Congress on the broad subject of how Congress, as an institution, might communicate more effectively its activities and decisions to the American people. We expect to be receiving written statements from other congressional witnesses as the hearings progress. These statements will be released to the public and included as part of the printed record of these hearings.
Today we are privileged to have with us representatives of the country's commercial and public broadcasters, including the presidents of the Columbia Broadcasting System, the American Broadcasting Co., and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Later today we will hear from a panel of broadcasters who are in charge of news bureaus in Washington.
We hope that these gentlemen will describe some of the day-to-day problems they face and the opportunities they see for covering congressional news.
On March 7 we will receive testimony from additional commercial and public broadcasters, including Julian Goodman, recently appointed chairman of the board of the National Broadcasting Corp.; Hartford Gunn, president of the Public Broadcasting System; Jim Karayn, president of the National Public Affairs Center for Television; Lee Frischknecht, president of National Public Radio; and Matthew Coffev, president of the Association of Public Radio Stations.
We are also looking forward to presentations by representatives of public television stations and State legislators from Connecticut and Florida, where there has been extensive television and radio coverage of the Connecticut General Assembly and the Florida Legislature.
At the March 7 session of the Joint Committee, we will have monitors set up so members of the Joint Committee can view videotaped excerpts of the legislative debates in Florida and Connecticut.
There are two additional points that I would like to make prior to calling our first witness, Arthur Taylor, president of CBS.