A Federal Case II; 22; Four Senior Citizen Southern Committee Chairmen in the U.S. Senate
I've always been devoted to my work. I get to meet a man or woman who likes what he or she does and gets in love it never tires of doing that I believe is my case. I could work for hours listening to what he says on the stand up on that time and again. And because of my interest in the subject matter represented I just warn the time reached by and I never could. Senator Allen JL under of Louisiana oldest member of the United States Senate formally chairman of the Agriculture Committee and new chairman of the Appropriations Committee president pro tempore of the Senate. And third in line for the presidency itself. He is 80 years old and as you just
heard he's got as he puts it a love affair going with his work. I like to work for the people. I've been doing legislative work now for over. 48 here I was 12 years and they say they just made you lose you and I have every office in that legislature that was possible. Those people I'm down to share the mind of the rich and I like legislative work I've been in I've been holding office of trust for over fifty seven years and had a long period. Never has a brother Scout live across my post but I like people and if I didn't I don't suppose I'd be sitting where I'm not this is a federal case.
From Washington D.C. the National Educational radio network brings you an examination of current issues facing our nation and its capital city areas any R.E.M. correspondent am Zille to listen to Sen. Eleanor and three of the other southerners who run powerful Senate committees talk about their roles in Congress. You'd think they had no power at all. At least that's the way they like to see it. Senator B average Jordan of North Carolina 74 year old chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Regulations power. Chairman of the committee I think he's pretty badly overestimated. I don't take. I don't consider myself a power over the Rules Committee. It is my duty. As chairman and I came up from the bottom to the top just like anybody else did through this situation. One man died and three more retired and one by one I moved up.
Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia 69 years old this year chairman of the Senate's Public Works Committee. Personally I've never sought any power and it doesn't appeal to me. I worked with John Sherman Cooper who's the senator from Kentucky who's the ranking minority member of our committee. I make him a part of the decision making process as I do I have a members Democrat Republican of our committee. I want the committee to do its job. But just the power for power sake this decides I think lessens the effectiveness of a Congress or even of an individual senator Senator John Sparkman of Alabama 71 this year and chairman of the Senate banking and currency Committee. I imagine any differences of force chairmen are concerned come about by the exercise of that power rather than the power itself. I see. I regard the committee in the Senate and I think it's true in
the house as being its own boss in other words if the chairman is imperial when he was running the committee it's committee's fault because they can block him in it. I certainly don't run my committee that way. I run it on the basis of nonpartisanship and cooperation among the members. Senator Allen there himself on the subject of his own power. Chairman of course had quite a lot of heart but it depends on the membership largely And since I've been chairman of the committee I couldn't parse tree. We would 23 have and I've never held back. We'll have the answer I always give them a chance. The fact that some senators may have in the past held back the lodge a
complaint against you know our system which doesn't hold true because under the rules the majority of any committee can force any issue to be voted on. They are 16 standing committees in the Senate. Ten of them are chaired by Southerners on the basis of seniority. And these are four of the chairman. There are a number of myths about these seven committee chairman some of the myths are incorrect and we'll get to those later. But some of the Misses about these senators are right on target. Like how they feel about the seniority system for example a system which were award senators with chairmanships of committees on the basis of length of service. You just heard Senator Eleanor bring it up. He goes on when it comes to any gaming experience. I think cops should get here I mean the Senate now thoroughly and I have done my homework with all committees after
and I feel confident. Side two had a committee that and who can senators Bachmann on why he likes seniority. Oh I believe in seniority. There are only five persons in the whole Congress who have been in Congress well and there's no one in the Senate's been in Congress and not talk about seniority in the Senate longer than I have and there are only five in the House and Senator Jordan with a long story. Incidentally I'm very much in favor of the señoritas system because when you when you when a man does reach the chairmanship he knows much or more about the work of that committee anybody has only been there longer and this is this is between what a man said to me two years ago here he was running against a member of Congress and I said but he's a real good man doing a good job. What do you
think you'll replace him but he said he's been there long enough. But I said well what if you can can you can contribute that he can contribute just because you think you are replacing what he said is it been a grown up and nothing are taking place and I said well if it happens which you operate a right big business of your own and you have a certain kind of of all your operations why don't you just fire the Superman and put the sweeper and let him run it or he shouldn't be stupid when I said Well I'm reading it you man you got a super going it over all your operations because he works through it through the different departments really understand him and he's capable of supervising the operations of all of all of the departments and your business. You would run him of it because numbers really belong there. No he said No no he said. Well maybe maybe maybe it's not a
get out Iran of somebody because he's been allowed to consider some other myths about Southern Committee chairman. They're supposed to be super politicians. You've never seen the real political animal some say until you've seen a Southern politician. Well you ask a man like Jennings Randolph how he sees his role in Congress and he gives you an answer that lasts for more than five minutes and covers just about every topic he could think of. And he even manages to wave a good American flag. Only the first to have the job of being a senator is an exacting task these days and you have to decide whether to spread your sub standard over much subject matter or to zeroing in on problems that you think you can through committee action top at least partially solved. And so I've given especial attention to the problems of air and water pollution control and solid waste disposal. All of
the environmental questions are very much my concern as those questions are the concern of the members of the committee. We don't have any partisanship. It's at a minimum at least in the Public Works Committee as we attempt to cope with these problems because people generally understand that it's no time for a small lip. It's got to be a broad effort vigorous effort if we're to face these problems and at least solve them in part. And so if I were to say that my special role is to give attention to matters that I think are of concern to the American people it is that in the Public Works Committee as chairman I think we have such a broad jurisdiction of subject matter that really comes close to home to people
that I want very much with my colleagues to make some contribution by way of effective legislation that's carried out by the agencies to give to America. He improved transportation which includes many types that we have not emphasized enough as of this date to stop in so far as possible the deterioration in the degradation of the earth the sky and the waters that such life giving but can also be deadly in ways of pollution and economic development you see which is so much of interest to me like the Appalachian Regional Development Act which I did sponsor for 13 states. Parts of states West Virginia being the only one completely within the Appalachian
region where we're giving emphasis to medical facilities to vocational education facilities and also manpower training programs of one type or another water resource development. Developmental roads access roads so as to bring that area a little closer to the mainstream of American life because we've been partially hidden behind here and we want to think and that program is one of partnership between the states and with the federal government. And that's just one area of my concern. Then I have a reserve to perform I think especially in a state like West Virginia to do everything that I can to improve the health and safety of the coal miners. We have about 40000 of them as they mine the code which is so vital to the fuel and
energizing the American industrial machine. So this is a continuing effort. And these are the types of programs education and labor and economic development and put pollution control and transportation development. Just Sastre systems where hurricanes tornadoes sweep across our country and in a hodgepodge we've attempted to deal with them and now we've given for the first time program where we are ready to meet these. If you're chairman of a committee these days it means you've discovered a good way to keep the people happy back home so they keep on re-electing you being a good talker helps but there are a couple of other attitudes these for Southerners anyway share which have also helped them. For example in any discussion of priorities they put
their own state first. Senator Jordan of North Carolina your first your first obligation is to your own state and your own people that never excluded the fact that they're part of the United States and that you can't expect this up again or going to be detrimental to Massachusetts prices or any other state. We have a different situation in North Carolina from what made it for us. We are a large farm estate and we have a big industrial state both well balanced in bunches we grow a lot of peanuts with the number two largest peanut with a number two broiler growing STATE OF THE UNION. That's a lot of chicken. So it's important those two things are important to us. We were number one in the back to raise and United States of cigarette tobacco. So that's important. And other crops are to soybeans and corn and wheat. We are getting right in cattle and hogs
several packing plants and this is just we're just visiting here and Senator Randolph I'm intensely interested in helping West Virginia and I provincial to an extent. Another characteristic these four southern committee chairmen have in common is their feeling about the Democratic Party. They're all Democrats all right. But a special breed some call them conservative Democrats but it's not quite so simple rather in the process of being good politicians who know how to please the people back home. These southern senators find they don't always line up with the Northern liberals in the Democratic Party. In fact their voting record looks Republican at times. If you ask them whether they're going to give the programs of this Republican president a hard time in Congress this year they're apt to start talking about how nonpartizan they are. Like Senator Sparkman of Alabama I don't imagine I'll vote for everything the president requests but generally you have supported the president quite well. In fact I've often said that I'm sure I've given him
more support than a good many of his Republican senators. I don't do it on a partisan basis. And Senator Randolph of West Virginia I'm not a partisan in the sense of an obstructionist to the other party. I think we can work together on many issues. We've done that the Public Works Committee. There's very few times that let's say I play head of partisanship in it's wrong terminology has been raised. Sometimes a Southern senator just sounds conservative. Not even Republican take Senator Allen to his feelings about Mr. Nixon's welfare proposals whether it was a one type program as it is now offering you that how to get people to work and get warning what's going to happen if you give them a guaranteed income and the other. This program will doubtless mean that many more
many more recipients will be in line for me. I've been told by members of the Finance Committee had asked that in some states over a third more welfare recipients would be would be provided for. And I'm afraid that if we continue that it might break the bank. Senator Jordan has the same attitude. The best information that I get from the finest committee whether to double their relief wrote Washington right now to get one out of every 10 and last year the relief rose in March and we're done with one year. Well you know we keep it up. If we begin and year one out of every five will be orderly and that means you and we'll have to work it would have to care some more before you do it. Just because certain myths about these four and probably other Southern Committee chairman turn out to be true that doesn't mean that the senators vote the same way on
every issue or that they haven't been responsible for any new ideas or legislation. Senator be every Jordan for instance a liberal publication like The New Republic picked out 12 bills in the Senate last year and flunked Mr. Jordan. He got a score of 10 minuses one not voting and one plus on issues like the ABM the Carswell nomination military spending the poverty program campus disorders. Senator Jordan didn't vote the way The New Republic thought he should. Even so the bill to limit campaign spending during elections came out of Senator Jordan's Rules Committee. I'm literally in favor of writing new election laws tightened up the money that is managed by election federal elections. We think we have a bill. And I made a statement last year that I will bring out some new federal election laws. Hold hearings on early in this year and see if we can pass because you know the president vetoed
political spending and it was evident that some got to be done to check that spending Senator Sparkman gets another low score in The New Republic for voting exactly like Senator Jordan. Yet listen to him talk about the legislation that came out of his banking and finance committee. Looking back over life over the last year we we reported up thirty two different vehicles from our Put it was only on the Senate calendar to say paste everyone up and most of them were passed by practically unanimous vote. I know we're important but one bank holding Act for instance regulation of the mutual fund industry the housing the emergency home mortgage plan back in is borrowing billions of additional mortgage money available for for home purchases. And then the house the
omnibus housing bill of 1970. That's just picking out a few. We put some control on deposits in Swiss banks for instance by citizens of this country. We put a clamp down on the unsolicited credit cards. We legislated on the question of credit reports and a great many others. Senator Allen Ellen there is another senator who gets a low score in The New Republic's list. Only two pluses but those were for when he voted against the ABM and the military research and development Bill as the new chairman of the Appropriations Committee. He explains his philosophy and how it differs from the former chairman who just died. Senator Richard Russell of Georgia I believe having every I am justified and I'm not against
the expenditure of money is justice. But often times some departments of government particularly the defense they come in and yes I want so much and sometimes very little effort is made to look into the background of that demand and to study it and to look into it to find out what the hottest justify that I proposed to do it. That's a change what will be a change I think surely that I would be the last man on earth to work against ending a program that ensures our security. I want to I want us to be addict resecure but I want it done in good order and I want it done and I want I want to get whatever we spend when we want to get adequate receipts for the years we want to get the dollars worth of dollars what that's about.
What I'm interested in and I believe that's the extent to which all of us have people at the New Republic a Senator Randolph of West Virginia a much better score than some of the other Southerners because he voted against a lot of the military spending bills last year. But even more surprising this southern Committee chairman voted against the seniority system I think that there has to be some change in the seniority system although we mustn't just throw it out and not have something to replace it. In fact I voted for the package amend it's the only thing Committee chairman that voted for it really in the whole Senate or roll call. I did it more to just show that I I thought some careful look at seniority should be involved. So the Senate committee chairman are by no means carbon copies of each other. They do have important individual differences which are reflected in the legislation they support and this is a fact which is sometimes forgotten when the Southerners along together.
And then there's the question of whether these chairmen belong to a special little club. Drew Pearson called of the group of Confederate generals trying to lead a Union Army. And former senator Joseph S. cark of Pennsylvania called it the Senate establishment but does this club exist. You get different answers. Senator Allen. Oh I don't think so. I used to be there back. Senator Jordan had this to say. I can imagine that better. I think an example Senator Clark as you well know of Pennsylvania was a man of great degree wrote a book about the establishment as you well know. Well you know what happens on the park when he when he ran for re-election he was not reelected. So apparently the people of Pennsylvania didn't think that Senator Clark was about to change their whole set up of the Senate because they didn't send him back. Now that's the best answer I can give you that Senator Sparkman was more candid.
I've often heard it said to senators most exclusive club in all the world. That may very well be true. As a matter of fact during the whole history of this country there's only been about around seventeen hundred senators to serve in my state we've had 34 senators during its history. And naturally it's because of the smallness of it. There is an exclusiveness and I think that leads mostly to the. Now sometimes they speak of the establishment too. Well naturally senators who have been here a long time and have worked together more or less form a new place you take a fellow like Dick Russell Alan Alan Johns Dennys followers like of course is a pulling together and they usually rate me as being in it too. And of course there are others I didn't try to name a whole lot of them but they referred to that as the establishment. Well it's
just a Kamerad already or a dependence upon one another that has developed as a result of the long years of service together. Whether there is a club or not doesn't really matter. What is more important is the attitude of these senators toward change in general. Are they trying to hold on to some old order in the Senate or do they see any good developments taking place. Senator Jordan whether change or not I don't know. Yeah you depend on who you talk to. And this off the record I would say to you that the now when the senator from Georgia come to replace them Russia he'll be number 100 right. He he before any seniority change it might all of a sudden jump him up. And natural but you let a feller get up to be a knight Bob Knight it he sure is yours your way or somebody could be the one hundred jump over top of it is just
natural. My my very candid opinion is that the movie gets to pick the seniority system it is people that really don't understand the reason why seniority as it is so important and any other any other reason would be that somebody has very little seniority to get it if they do it a seniority system through or some because you have to have some kind of election. Then you can been around Know your friends that vote for me for this or that the other thing. So we spend an awful lot of our time campaigning to be elected chairman of a committee and you'd be let it be it just be elections but it be you'd be probably weeks and months Sadhu and round button holding people and doing all sorts of thing to try to get them to vote for it. We made a chairman so I don't know if this is not a new question by Timmy and the people who have been here a long time much longer than I have and while I have not come
up with any better system perhaps Senator Jordan doesn't put it exactly the way they all would. Perhaps Senator Randolph is sitting on a fence at least on the seniority issue. But the fact remains that these men from rural areas in the south have been rewarded in old age with the chairmanships of important committees in the Senate. Sure enough Senator Sparkman may be missing a few teeth but he is clearly not infirm and 80. Senator Allen can wear a yellow shirt with fashionable stripes and Senator Randolph can say nice things about the youth of the country I think used generally are helping us to do that and not so much the status of course. Even so in business these men would probably be retired. Their argument that you need experience to be a committee chairman misses the point. In order to be a powerful chairman all they have had to do is to become a senior citizen in the Senate. They have not taken a test or have their colleagues judge in an election just how competent they really are. That's the issue. Committee chairman have the power to
- A Federal Case II
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