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the point i think despite the fact that the year congress of united states has made the subject of the cartoons night is lambasted by collison and commentators is made to appear small in the minds of many people through the use of the weapons which these various people have their command that despite that fact that the year the esteem in which the congress's role throughout the country is quite high and the continent's placed the congress i think is quite good by war bring democracy and majority rule back in the halls of congress because i think that's what was intended under the constitution and that after all is the fundamental basis of our american
democracy rule by the majority of the reasonable debate in the senate rules and senate practices one man chosen to make an hour ago that the prose of you know stage with great dignity and for probably ms parker looked like appliances or to be enacted this is ridiculous i can tell you is that acceptable those bills might affect anything and it would've spell the death knell of olive right and now i will go i'm proud of the fact that i've been able to filibuster and i'll do it again because he is still a way to protect the rights of minority send in national educational television presents at issue a commentary on events and people in the new issue this week
rules the sense that the state has a national affairs reporter magazine visiting professor of public affairs at wesleyan university this week the eighty eight congress has entered its tenth mile in prospect is at the session will last at least until christmas possibly until early january when the second session is scheduled again but this marathon meeting has not been accompanied by any great outpouring of legislation so far except for senate ratification of the test ban treaty eighty eight has disposed of comparatively minor men's even the appropriation bills lifeblood of the government are months behind schedule much of the president kennedy's program lies dormant it is about all means certain that his two major requests tax reduction on the civil rights package
will be completed the shia critics within and without congress inserted the problem of inaction goes deeper than that attitude of its members they claim that it lies in the way congress organizes its power is a congressional rules and procedures and traditions from at the dominance of an entrenched hierarchy which isn't responsive to the will of the majority two years ago the question of who rules the house of representatives was raised in dramatic form when the late speaker raven led a fight to enlarge the committee on rules rayburn won his fight till the results of that victory have not been very substantial so far this year a companion issue has been raised who rules the senate early in the session senator joseph clark democrat of pennsylvania delivered a series of speeches which constituted a sweeping indictment of what he called the sinnett establishment a few days ago he carried this fight to the public by publishing a small book of the
same title clock sums up his position and a few blunt words the senate establishment he says is almost the antithesis of democracy is not selected by any democratic process is what might be called a self perpetuating oligarchy but before turning the clock let's look briefly at the obstacle course that confronts the typical piece of legislation which enters the hop on in congress in the senate it is regularly reform the committee the german portion of considerable paul mason on it or if they're at a subcommittee and subcommittee it may be deliberated all there and reported out the bill again comes before the full committee before the deliberation or whether the light it favorably voted to confine i reached before the senate they are members may adopt or inject unless that is a german minority by engaging in a delaying tactic known as filibuster
prevents a vote in the house of representatives the process is much the same except that its members cannot filibuster there is however the added obstacle of the house rules committee which serves as powerful traffic cop in deciding which bills reach the floor when both bodies have acted favorably a bill goes to conference where few members attempt to reconcile any differences in the two versions here again legislation can be pushed ahead or candy store this is the way congress usually goes about the business of passing a law but the obstacle courses bundle made run when the law is passed for most laws take money to put them into effect there is the additional obstacle course to be run during the appropriation process with the same opportunity for roadblocks all along the way so the caucus jaws that these roadblocks are being manned by
a self perpetuating oligarchy the other day i asked the senator what it was that prompted him to make this accusation i have become increasingly impatient at the inability of the senate to act even when the majority was ready for action this of course but the case ever since the days of woodrow wilson and probably except for a brief period during a force wilson administration has been the rule the rule senate for a generation because we have this debate and because the great power of committee chairman and the many other tactics of delay in terms of legislation it's very easy and b to defeat a measure regardless of how badly the president might have the united states may think it is needed and very difficult indeed to get it passed and then as clark how the senate establishment manages to maintain its rule in the senate today a committee
chairman or special power live there because in a way there's no way to get rid of them they represent largely the status quo and allegory firing fellow feeling like feeling so even though for a job most credible and that what they think of as the interest of the country is also the interest of their starch and bring in recruits from time to time from the norman laura bush to move ahead there are suggestions i don't mean anything corrupt to toll their suggestions that their young son are moving in we'll pay or do obese and stu the establishment he'll get the better committee assignments and well and of course being knocking on the door of the establishment club are hoping to be the end senator mike mansfield montana was elected by his democratic colleagues to serve as majority leader he bears the responsibility for
keeping the senate's business moving and the frustration when that business marks down ask senator mansfield about clark's attack on the establishment well i disagree with sandra clarke it made a great deal about the establishment has made many speeches there is somebody in what he says as far as reforms in the senate are concerned but as far as the establishment are as some referred to it in a club is concerned that they do not run the senate in running the senate it's a matter of auction and the newest member there has a boat worth as much as that of the oldest member we operate on the basic rules and procedures we have a committee says don't build reporter out their product or through a policy committee and on like the rules committee of the house to the best of my knowledge the policy committee in the senate which is the counterpart has never held up any legislation it has been reported the floor of the senate to time it has been considered and that it has been the best or defeated
for re committing sen allen allen is from louisiana and is a committee chairman some of his colleagues would call him an oligarch are quoted clark's remarks on the establishment to say well i heard the solar park share own show occasionally but i doubt that you know what his thinking about police say i mean in the senate not twenty seven years and i know i'm not allowing our by enemy isis german the career of it on my own i'm gone so far astray and i'll tell you my german ship to try to prevent an email i'm from being heard of being voted on in a lot of the people outside think or feel that applause
como hold the chairmanships and that earlier on paul what they didn't do what the page that committee and enactment now of course the fact that we are at the head of the aquatic to come in and give her some prestige but it doesn't mean that we can proceed and do what we please some of the clifford case is a republican from new jersey is a liberal with a reputation for deep concern about the problems of government he has sponsored his own bill to set up a commission to study the organization of congress i asked some of the case for his opinion about what causes the inaction in the senate this is why would like to have investigated it's been
investigated before been investigated again lawyer connell who were tied commission has a record in iraq one in and more time to do something about the inadequacies of congress its slowness it's negative our generation is really there is disagreement among the senators about the party had to be accorded the president's program senator case though a memo the monarchy had some sharp words to say when i asked him from a specific example of committee a blockage of what the president had asked for well i think a good example of a case where this happened in an area not commonly so terribly controversial is a murder transportation year or more nearly two years ago the person after long study by the secretary of commerce itself based
upon studies have been made over generations by very competent people proposed very complete comprehensive revision of our national transportation system recommended specific action in a number of areas and regulation to make it uniform and desolate one more transportation wasn't favored at the expense of another many other things this was a very good message andy anderson a political incentive to win the committee on interstate import cars lot of this is that this is a great interview president of the united states it would be degrading even drew a member of congress made portal and couldn't get it considered one has to admit that the delay is primarily resulting from the fight of the southern group against civil rights legislation but it has spilled over and do many another area i think of myself one of the best ways of the world or prevent this would be for the
senate to adopt a rule that every legislative proposal of the press should be voted on up down or with amendments and when he requests that you go before the fourth of july each year or some politically convenient day so that it would be possible for the president to go to the country and say these are the recommendations are made in my campaign most of the union message contained in the blood for my party i proposed with covers the congress has now acted on them adversely i will appeal over the head of the congress to train people who will go for the proposals on which i to which i commend myself when i ran from ohio surprise i do not believe that the president's program and just because it is that i should be given the consideration which sen clarke seems to indicate it sure i believe it should be given every consideration along with other legislation out which is initiated in the senate itself and of course i would like to see the president's program
targets agreeable to the majority of the democrats and it usually has a broader the poor as expeditiously as possible and that not be too late but i have to call your attention the fact that there is a line of demarcation between executive and the legislative branches of the government and that that we should not go to the extreme where we would be bombed every time a president recommends something that we should be going to buy into the highest priority that may be entitled to and if it is it could be given to it but when you speak of the problem unless i think that youre going pretty far even when a bill gets out of committee it's chance of passage by majority is by no means assured there is that peculiar instrument of senatorial privilege known as the filibuster it is viewed by the various senators in various ways in beautiful in the senate
it takes two thirds of the senate to write a poem about a girl as valerie why i mean maybe the president rule used to have a rule that that would make it impossible to make a film about a less two thirds of the senators elected would will favor of it but now it's only two thirds of those guys who can break up with boulevard and i think the filibusters in a weapon could be retained ownership because i could cite do you say no bail out that came before the congress all submitted the political congressional committees which if enacted would have this strong outcome of filibusters unique
in rural homeowner bodies to the united states senate why do you think the senate should have this particular weapon when oil palm of those well we only country in the world where you have democracies real democracy i've been all of this world and i've never seen a country that has a democratic government so mcgowan i went out when i would fear is it's a majority rule that it up and i would much prefer have it as it is that is where if a minority group adventures of course all majority i mean in the minority group the other believes that there should be limited to a contract the army some
way by which it can be stopped i believe extended debate and i would hope that people when they consider the filibuster would get away from considering it only in the light of civil rights legislation only there are problems in my part of the country our irrigation reclamation and other collectors are witches should be given consideration and i believe that every senator should have the right agreed with conditions to carry on extended debate in the airport because of his own state and his own region and it can be ambiguous but nevertheless it didn't have its place and i would just like very much to see the senate become the kind of the body which the house now is where an important legislation can be considered in a matter of hours or at the most interviewed at the port are also the one established want something to happen very often but it does care does occur occasionally that no better go
in controlling me the procedure by which he kept in the communications satellite analyst share one narrator tell others whoever much opposed to the bill but scientists at least tied for and run willing to resort to a filibuster the proponents of the bill o'reilly will impose cloture no more than one weeks the bank so they don't have the one way that we can't have another well i would think that a lot of those people who complain about the filibuster on today believe one of senator russell will enable the same kind of tactics in their own the air but there they are disappointed no they were not organized themselves in such a way and they will make statements about all night sessions around the clock sessions day in and day out but all they do is to wear out themselves and be your own members from the southern part of the nation and knowing what they're doing come in refreshed every year a second third or fourth day and that they can continue
on indefinitely about what we ought to do is to get away from this idea around the clock sessions which i naturally of war because it is to many of the members a chance to come in without and corn pear with without neckties with pajama style pasta can upload their own necks in bedroom slippers and it does not fit in with my idea of decorum and dignity and so far as the institution of the senate is concerned the majority leadership of the senate insists of some of the mansfield and two assistant majority leaders were called whips i ask some of the mansfield at present the leadership has adequate authority to push the senate's work at the proper pace no it as less power than the individual senator because when the senators call the leadership we'll respond by saying yes sir so we can send them why i was asked to come back they
can in effect on the notion that age we get by on the basis of courtesy accommodation and understand what its bars actually are is concerned that is not an end of the leadership we have a title we have what are still goes with it was was actually are is concerned that it is only on the basis of the factors which i mentioned the operations much more control of the committee chairman hefley committees have democratic rules which will enable a majority of the committee to force the committee that lyndon johnson certainly never one of my heroes when he was a strong majority leader episode which was quite evenly divided when i first came here he had remarkable success in bringing measures were she was understood before for about i think there are more difficulties
the leadership force strength and powers throw a majority of the democratic caucus or even a majority of the democratic conference on the committee chairman so as to require them to process these measures and bring them out over four or well i'm great hopes of this is going to be done many of our members talk too much and to do too little a windy obama has thrown down and the need for spain postponement being cared to participate in debate corn called job for becomes mandatory also to many of our members go to a bar appeal then end up on the new patients during each legislative session i had to send telegrams out there asking them to please come back sometimes they do sometimes they don't there is no
way in which i can force them back in my position as a majority leader because there is that the strength of each individual senator regardless of his own term of all these all this time of service they sprint which makes a really enjoyable only to the people of this state and they are the ones who have the side of what his future would be based on his performance or in this body if this session is an example congress is fast becoming a year round institution traditionally the members was supposed to spend a good part of that time each year back home with their constituents i ask the senate is if there was merit in the proposition that congress should spend all its time in washington were late that is that they're grown make it more difficult for incumbents like myself to get home and get people not touch with the people the merits of it is that they've got to face up to the fact that the world's
problems and our palms domestically with our increasing population concentration of urban areas the climb into art form population and so forth and does go for a year round of attention to the jobs we have a lot more people coming back more states the demands are not a member of congress' time are increasing we have more duties to attend to past we just haven't got the knowledge to really understand all of them early and the result is that someone was trying to concentrate on this or another you know and so that at least one area we can develop a degree of garbage but the days when a senator good to come to washington and adjust their dorm are gone and gone forever hughes was sentenced to that we see this year for congress to be a year round congress as a whole no not that it's wrong but
it's been four tie with this job because you can be in many respects is a full time job and more and a dessert or town that men can do it but the reason they were doing it isn't it because of the sort of a job is because we do nothing we were sitting here and then this is a this is ridiculous street three bills i think none of them really important a major importance as the congress so far in a minute period in which exposed to the lord's work and then over a couple months so far at least the clamor for reform in congress is by no means definite set their clocks assault on the senate establishment is to fraudulent to sweeping to attract new recruits in that body a short time ago the senate rules committee did report out a resolution to set up a joint committee on congressional organization but this group would be barred from examining any of the basic rules and procedures about which color complaints particularly senate rule twenty two
which gives the filibuster such free reign this is too bad for congress needs to look more closely at the way parcels out its powers the filibuster president works as a curious perversion of the test that is supposed to be as this fall's fight over the civil rights proposals approaches it promotes an organized minority employing the platoon system developed by senator russell of georgia carry own debate without the ordeal of fatigue and endurance that the filibuster ordinarily has a majority of senators on the other hand really seek a chance to vote must bear much of the burden of the fatigue and the frustration the present on set too much in favor of the filibuster is the issue of food rules the senate does raise tricky problems and pow certainly any attempt at reform must not be allowed to damage the deliberative process
is which a vital to that body that this observer the present power structure in the senate gives too much authority to the oligarchy not enough authority to the elected leadership of majority leader chosen by boat of his colleagues must consider the mansfield own words rely on courtesy accommodations and understanding to get things done the committee chairman on the other hand was chosen so lay by seniority can rely on make it talk to raise the roadblocks that is hardly any cool contest neither does
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At Issue
Episode Number
Slowdown in Congress
Who Rules the Senate?
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Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Episode Description
The pilot program, now in the planning stage, follows the above pattern. Douglass Cater will serve as host-analyst on the subject AT ISSUE: Slowdown in Congress. Views will be solicited, via film interviews, with Senators Russell, Clark and Mansfield; Representatives Bolling and McCormack, and one or two others. Present plans are to use the imminent contest over Civil Rights legislation as the point of entry into the story and to move from there into consideration of the broader array of Congressional practices and processes which interfere with its capacity to do its business expeditiously. Running Time: 28:32
Series Description
At Issue consists of 69 half-hour and hour-long episodes produced in 1963-1966 by NET, which were originally shot on videotape in black and white and color.
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Talk Show
Politics and Government
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Moving Image
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Identifier: 2047467-1 (MAVIS Item ID)
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Identifier: 2047467-2 (MAVIS Item ID)
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Generation: Master
Color: B&W
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2047467-3 (MAVIS Item ID)
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Library of Congress
Identifier: 2047467-4 (MAVIS Item ID)
Generation: Master
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Identifier: 2047467-5 (MAVIS Item ID)
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Chicago: “At Issue; 1; Slowdown in Congress; Who Rules the Senate?,” 1963-10-07, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 25, 2023,
MLA: “At Issue; 1; Slowdown in Congress; Who Rules the Senate?.” 1963-10-07. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 25, 2023. <>.
APA: At Issue; 1; Slowdown in Congress; Who Rules the Senate?. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from