A Federal Case II; 11; The 92nd Congress
This is a federal case. From Washington D.C. the National Educational radio network brings you want examination of current issues facing our nation in its capital city. Here is an E.R. and correspondent John. A mixed bag that probably best describes in advance the 90 second Congress from almost all standpoints the men the issues the emotions the mechanics the very as they have in the past from the serious to the frivolous from the realistic to the absurd. There will be two or three steps forward each week along with one step backward. First let's look at the men who will be taking those steps. It's difficult to see a great many changes overall. There are and will be unresolved arguments over the House of Representatives did the administration win because it didn't lose as badly as it might have a gain of nine seats for the Democrats. But the Senate is another story. President Nixon and Vice President
Agnew have made very definite almost identical claims. The most important result of the election from the standpoint of the administration and I think from the standpoint of the world and the nation it is in the Senate again was to a far more significant and again to something that you ladies and gentlemen will remember when I pointed out that the reason I was campaigning so hard over the country was that in the past two years the Senate has been so evenly divided that a majority of one determine the big votes on foreign policy and national defense. And I thought it was important to have more than a majority of one in support of the administration's policies in foreign policy. National election for Buckley. And in Texas the election of Senator Benson will give the president. A clear. Additional support. For his policy. As far as our foreign relations are concerned and for his policies as far as national
defense are concerned. But then again there are disagreements. I don't host Senator Frank Church told us I've heard the arguments I can't I can't make them out when I look at the election results. It seems to me that at best it's a standoff. And I think that some of the newly elected senators are being too readily pigeonholed. It may very well be that when they come to the Senate and begin to assume their responsibilities and and hear the case and make up their own minds that they're not going to be as easily tight as the president and the administration have so far indicated. Furthermore the possibility is that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be even more disposed to question. American policy in the coming Congress than in the past. I don't know how many new vacancies will be filled because the question of the overall size of the committee has to be determined. But it's possible that as many as
200 new Democrats and and two new Republicans could be appointed to the committee. Among those that have been suggested on the Democratic side. Senator Muskie and Senator McGovern it. Would seem to be likely choices. And this certainly would tend to strengthen the committee's. Independent role rather than to weaken it. So I I think that the predictions as to how the next Congress is going to behave I prebuttal are Indiana Democrat Birch by echoes that I noticed in talking to you about Senator Benson. Who's a Democrat from Texas. The president claims him as being in the Nixon camp but Senator Benson or senator elect Benson was quick to point out that his democratic credentials are good and by takes issue with the basic premise under which some of that gathering was done I think there is there is nothing to gain by trying to suggest that some of the important unfinished
business of America today breaks down on purely ideological grounds. If you look at one of the major points of confrontation in the last Congress the difference is that the Senate had with the president the caliber of Supreme Court justice I was involved in that's why I know a little bit about what I speak. Well the president has tried repeatedly to. Suggest that this was just a political vendetta. For. The vice president talked about the rabbi libs and all of this type of business. I think it's rather unbecoming of the office. That those who hold it haven't done a better job of studying what was on the minds of the senators. In this issue and in other issues for example in that battle written Carswell. There were 20 members of the president's own party and one of the
votes all three of the leading Republican said no Mr. President we're going to Republicans but on this issue our party loyalty will not permit us to subject the court to this type of representation. Basically the things that are important to America. Important to our people. I think are important to Republicans and Democrats and most conservatives and liberals and moderates. And to try to categorize everybody and put them in a nice neat little compartments I think is really not going to make the country any better as long as we're examining what happened on November 3rd and how it will affect the 90 second Congress. We must also look at what happened before that voting the campaign. It was long and bitter. Perhaps the most acrimonious midterm battle in years. Well this carry over into the next year. Illinois Representative Leslie Aarons is the Republican whip or assistant Republican leader in the House of Representatives. These wounds will heal and this will be minimized as time goes on. I look back on what happened in my own case years ago when I first got into politics and one of my good friends in Oakland.
Clinical old timer said to me Leslie said Just remember don't keep books in politics. And I could and nothing could be more true than that statement. And those who go around and say that this with these things will not be forgotten and we will remember this and we will do this and we will do that in retaliation why this will go out of the way because you don't keep books and politics and freedom are the things that were said in this campaign as I went back and reviewed some of the things that have been said in other campaigns previous campaigns. I see nothing much out of line with what was said during this campaign. Tough things were said in other campaigns I've been in quite a while I've gone through many of them and I've heard these things that when you forget these things and I think this will take place yet a fellow Republican disagrees with Mr. Aaron's New York's Charles Goodell the GOP senator who fell before the acts of a vice presidential purge won't be part of the 90 second Congress. But he says a lot of the bitterness of the campaign may be I think the administration particularly Vice President Agnew struck such a
discordant partisan note and personal note from the viewpoint of the Democrats and some Republicans that it's likely to be a. Real confrontation on many issues and this will inevitably involve some personalities. I think the Democratic senators that I have talked to who went through the fires of the campaign and survived. Are. Somewhat resentful of the tactics that were employed. That creates an atmosphere in which you're likely to have some real fireworks between the president and Congress. Goodell does say the president can do something about this. I think there is among a great many of the senators right now real resentment their real unhappiness at the tactics of Vice President Agnew and the president's intervention in the manner he did in some of the races particularly his failure to support some Republicans not only
myself but others. Given that situation the president I think can heal the wounds if he turns to these senators and says OK now the campaign is over. We've got major problems. I need your help I need your constructive suggestions. We have two years to govern before the next presidential election and we've got to govern effectively because this country has very desperate problems. If he does that I think the wounds will heal quite quickly. Senator but I also hold out hope for a constructive reconciliation. I think most people after the battle is over will bury the hatchet until the next election at least I hope so. I think the best interest of the country is more important than political pique or political vindication frankly. I think most members of Congress are going to follow this rule. I'm hopeful the president will also nonetheless that obviously is going to be a measure of
discord between the White House and Congress. But Senator Church says that's not necessarily bad. On the contrary I think that this is a symptom of democracy at work. I don't take it to be the symptom of a lively democracy that the Congress should roll over and play dead and act the way parliaments in total Italian countries do and merely rubber stamp every executive proposal. But when we get to that we can. We can kiss democracy goodbye in this country. I think that last year the Congress showed that it was more determined to play its own role under the Constitution than at any time in many years. And this is all to the good. This was what was intended by the separation of powers. And yet. The president would would have us believe that
the Congress is here just to play a ritual role to endorse and approve whatever proposals he makes. Of course that is and so we're here to exercise our own judgment and to represent the people according to our best. Best judgement and we have done that. I think. In the past session and I expect we'll do it in the next session. There will be one overriding factor in the next two years. Senator Goodell told us it will be most evident in the Senate. I think the major problem that you're going to have in the 90 second Congress. Throughout both sessions will be that under our system we are now starting a presidential campaign again. We go two years without a presidential campaign early in 1071 you will see the speculation growing Democrats will be vying with Democrats for position in getting the nomination for the presidency.
Some of them will be announcing and this will affect their relationship to each other and to the Congress. And then of course as the Congress proceeds the issues will be focusing or use in the 72 campaign. So this is the backdrop that is most significant in the next in the 90 second Congress. Is that going to hurt or help the work of the Congress. Well you know it always has a mixed effect. People often say that's bad. But. You know when people are looking ahead when congressmen and senators are looking ahead to what the people are going to want and vote for in 1972 that's healthy too. It can make them more responsive to the currents that are running in our society. It can make them understand a little bit more. The need for drastic measures when they might normally sit back on their haunches. So I think there will be some very healthy aspects to this. Obviously there will be some bickering there will be some straight
politics that will. Impede the legislative process too. But you get a mixed bag on that. Hopefully Congress will respond enough to meet some of our problems that are really reaching explosive proportions in this country. Of course this presidential race won't be as pronounced in the House Representative everyone says from the standpoint of politics I'm a little bit inclined to think that probably we will have substantially less dose of politics doing this year when we had during the previous year because as you know I remembered our chance to run every two years just make sure we have time to draw breath and not be so bothered about politics. And I would like to see really in a unified way and and in a sincere and honest effort to try to try to pull together on both sides of the aisle here to sow somebody's basic problems no one of course. Outstanding I think it's a matter of inflation and slowing it down and getting it to the place where it's manageable. Which leads us to the issues which will face the 90 second Congress and Senator Goodell certainly qualified as an expert on the Congress even though he won't be there
tells us. I would guess the overriding issue in 1971 at least is going to be the economy. Continued inflation. Unemployment. The dislocations in the economy. I think the slowing down of growth. In the economy. And these are things to which the Nixon administration must addressed itself in 1071 because potentially it can be the major issue in the 72 campaign for the presidency. The battle lines are drawn on this one. In the past year the administration has hammered away at what it calls the spendthrift attitude in Congress. And Representative Aaron says to look for more of the same I would like to believe and hope that the Congress in the 90s in the 90 second Congress would be more careful in their approach to the problem of info. Inflation. In other words if we could try to tighten our belts a little bit on the matter of government spending and the amount of money that we include in the budget for this coming year. This to me is basic
and something that the Congress must be little more responsible about. And I think this is going to be one of the big issues in the next Congress. Now there are a lot of people who still think you can cure problems by spending money and I don't happen to belong to that school. The administration hopes the economy will disappear as an issue. But on both sides of the aisle leaders fear that's not to be. Senator by expounds the Democratic viewpoint an echo of the campaign theme. Well I hope it won't but I think it will become a continuing issue between. Some of us who are concerned about. Very slow rate of the economy high rate of unemployment and the president and his advisors doubt the White House who apparently aren't concerned. I say I hope it won't because frankly I don't think. The matter of unemployment should be partisan. I think that all segments of our society ought to be concerned and we have a we're four and a half million Americans out of work. And when even the president's political experts our economic
experts tell us that this is going to be 5 million. I think it's a very sterile policy to suggest that before you can control inflation you have to have five million Americans unemployed. I don't buy that philosophy. And I think with the right kind of leadership in the Congress and in the executive branch if the president will use the tools that are available we can control inflation without all this human suffering and misery that comes from from no paychecks on Saturday. If the economy will be the overriding issue certainly defense defense spending and foreign relations will be running as close seconds and thirds. And the fight already is shaping up on those Defense Secretary Melvin Laird in a New York speech in November said that in the next year the administration will ask for more money for defense. After two budgets with lower Pentagon requests How will this one fare representative Aarons is on the House Armed Services Committee. I agree with Secretary lead that this is something that that we may well have to do. As you know we wrote into the procurement Bilis last nation that Santa
put some money in there for a beginning to rebuild our Navy which has been becoming obsolete over the past years and we have let some things fall away shall we say in our defense position and we're going to have to take a good hard check and look and the idea that everyone who wants this or wants that can say take it out of defense I think that day is gone. I think we're going to have to be very careful in the troubled upset in discovery world such as we presently have. We just simply cannot let down our defenses at this particular time and we must remain modern and we must remain up to date in our defense posture. And I think realistically the Congress has to face up to this during the next mission of Congress. I would believe you and I would like to think there are places where we still can save money without taking everything out of national events. I think this is one of our great problems is to convince the country and to convince the members of Congress that there's just a limitation to what we can do in cutting down on the on defense expenditures because Very frankly I'm I'm somewhat disturbed about the continual reductions in amounts for our national defense. And because we have to keep abreast and we have to
keep a military posture in this country second to none. And this cost cost money. But on the other hand the opposition will be as determined as ever. Again Senator Church. I think that the Congress does its job in the right way. We can at least manage to hold the line on military spending after all. Seventy five billion dollars is a great deal of money. And I think there's room within that kind of a spending limit for the military to live and to to take care of the security the real security interests of the United States. So I would hope that despite what is clearly a calculated campaign to influence both public opinion and congressional opinion commenced as you say well in advance of the session. To pave the way for an enlargement of the military budget. I would hope that Congress resists this and at least manages to hold the line on military
spending next year. Part of the defense debate will be around a three year battle the fight for the life of the safeguard anti ballistic missile system. We asked Senator Goodell for a prediction. It's likely the ABM will be continued but there will be sustained pressure on the administration to justify further expenditures. And if the administration wants to expand the ABM they will probably have another major confrontation with the Congress. I would expect a limited expansion Congress would approach over the objections of a bipartisan group of senators particularly the Senate would be standing up on this issue. I don't think the president will have the votes for a major expansion of ABM at this time. Does depend somewhat on developments in the SALT talks and developments in the world. If. Further confrontations occur with the Soviet Union. That always gets the blood
boiling and American patriotism rises and then my vote for defense systems even if they aren't justified. Let's stay with Senator Goodell for a few moments for some crystal ball rolling on some of the other issues with which the Congress will continue to grapple. The Supreme Court. President Nixon in the campaign said he intends to try again to get Senate confirmation of a Southern conservative as a justice. Assuming there is a vacancy in the next two years admittedly Senator Goodell expresses what was the opposition viewpoint in the debate in the 90 first but he holds the door open. Well I think that is such a nomination would have. Been approved by the Senate in the last two years if it had been. A man of. Great judicial stature. And a man who understood and was sensitive to the civil liberties issues in this country. There are many men of that nature that you might call a conservative from the south. The president
happened to choose two men Aynesworth And Kyra as well who were from the view of many of us totally insensitive to the civil liberties issues particularly civil rights and of course Mr. Aynesworth had additional problems with his conflict of interest. But Mr. Carson had the additional problem of not having a reputation as a jurist of real repute and stature. And if the president chooses a Southern conservative who. Has a good record on the bench and has no problems of conflict of interest. And is. Reasonably updated in his thinking. I think you'd be approved. Oh there's welfare reform and you know there's an interesting point there because you talked about in the administration's talked about getting an ideological majority. It's the conservatives in Congress who oppose welfare reform. My successor Mr Buckley campaigned against welfare reform I campaigned for it.
And so Mr. Nixon has lost a vote on welfare reform in the case of New York and he has elsewhere in the country. I think welfare reform is inevitable whether it comes in the rump session here next year or perhaps after the seventy two elections the welfare system is such a mess it's got to be reformed. It may not be along the lines of the Edmund Nixon administration as proposed. I would expect what will happen in the next session if not in this particular rump session is we will pass some kind of an experimental program a trial period to see how the new incentives work and then using that experience to attempt a major reform. Frankly I think we've come to the point in this country where we should have an income maintenance program with building incentives and replace the entire welfare system must be much more efficient and health care. Goodell says this one really depends on what the White House proposes.
I understand they're going to make a major health care proposal early in the year. And I think there's a good chance that Congress would respond to a major health care proposal that would clean up Medicare and Medicaid these have been helpful programs but very inefficient. And we certainly need an overall approach that would involve the insurance industry and some kind of a prepaid to national insurance health care program. I think the Congress would enact it if the Nixon Administration recommended it. If they don't recommend it I think it will be a political issue in 1992. But any real major advance will wait until after the presidential election of 72 consumer protection. I think you're going to see further bills passed and consumer protection. With or without administration support. This is a matter of deep concern to the American people it's an issue that affects everybody. And that you have many leaders in the Congress on consumer legislation. So I would
hope the administration will make further proposals here and give leadership on this issue. But whether they do or not I think you're going to see a great many more consumer bills passing Congress on all of these issues and the myriad others inevitably under congressional scrutiny all of the members of both houses will want to act responsibly but obviously they'll have several different viewpoints as to just what responsible action means to some of the day to day process of getting bills passed. To others it's a crusade of sorts. Senator Church is one of the Crusaders. I would hope that the Congress continues to search for a rearrangement in priorities so that we can better attend to the problems that are plaguing our own society here at home. And. This is a quest that began last year. And I hope that it continues next year. This is the most
important single question facing government today. Where are we going to spend our money. Where are we going to focus our interest. To what extent will the foreign policy table continue to wag the American dog. This is the the basic question. And if the executive does not indicate a willingness to change these priorities efficiently. Then I think it's up to Congress. To do so. Realistically can the Congress do that. Back to Senator Goodell. I think there will be an alteration of the priorities to a degree by Congress. But Congress so thus far has shown itself incapable to make any major reallocations of resources and priorities in this country. We did cut back on some of the military expenditures. We had major confrontations on some of these big weapon systems. We did add some money for
housing and for education and for manpower training and programs of this nature for urban problems but not very much. And I doubt if there's going to be the much difference in the next Congress as far as this is concerned. Unless the president gives leadership in this area. Because it takes a two thirds felt. To make any major. Reallocation if the president opposes it. And so unless the president does change his view I don't think Congress is going to be able to do it alone. There is unanimity on at least one point in the 90 second Congress there will be some changes in the way business is conducted on Capitol Hill. In October both houses agreed to the first congressional reorganization bill since 1946. Most of its provisions will affect the house. It will make public some important votes that hitherto could have been kept anonymous. It will open some House committee hearings to radio into television and there's more in the way of some House members are successful.
Representative Aarons explained the GOP efforts. Republicans already have indicated as a result of a study by a task force on our side of the aisle that we intend this as a positive action by on our side to bring before our conference a possibility of doing something about the seniority system into fire as it pertains to our side of the aisle. And this will take place I'm sure right after we have a meeting in the first part of the year. And this would indicate that we're concerned about the seniority system to some degree the objective being that. We say that they're the membership of the House have a right to vote in secret ballots as to who they would like to see be the ranking member of the committee we again will be the ranking member not the chairman as we head out and let the body itself. The members and I cited one hundred eighty I think specialist who would like to see be the ranking members we think this is a step forward. But the Republicans don't have the reform feel to themselves by any means. Michigan Democratic Congressman Charles Diggs told us we were able to effectuate some
some changes. During the 94 US Congress and lay the foundation for some further changes. Particularly with respect to the automatic assumption of chairmanships the person who has the greatest amount of seniority also the frustrations which have been generated because the rules of the House have permitted. Chairman to exercise or rather out of credit control and in several instances of the of the committee these new members are just not going to stand still for that. But in spite of all the indications predictions and speculation an accurate profile of the 90 second Congress won't emerge until it's well underway until its members have recorded votes on some of the key issues and have taken a stand in debate. Until then the questions of priorities personalities responsibilities and ideological majorities will remain questions for the national
- A Federal Case II
- Episode Number
- The 92nd Congress
- Producing Organization
- National Educational Radio Network
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- "A Federal Case II" is a weekly program produced by the National Educational Radio Network which examines current political topics in the United States and Washington, D.C. Each episode features interviews with experts, members of the public, and lawmakers concerning a specific issue of government.
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Producing Organization: National Educational Radio Network
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 70-18-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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- APA: A Federal Case II; 11; The 92nd Congress. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-qn5zb956