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Text of H.R. 5193..
Appendix, H.R. 8480, as amended, with report..
Leggett, Hon. Robert L., a Representative in Congress from the State
Moakley, Hon. Joe, a Representative in Congress from the State of
Pickle, Hon. J. J. (Jake), a Representative in ('ongress from the State of
Burt, Robert A., professor of law, University of Michigan.
MATERIAL SCBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
kansas, statement -
of Colorado, statement.. Evans, Hon. Frank E., a Representative in Congress from the State of Colo
rado, letter to Chairman Madden.-
of Massachusetts, statement.
IMPOUNDMENT REPORTING AND REVIEW
MONDAY, MAY 7, 1973
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The committee met at 2:15 p.m., pursuant to notice, in room H-313, the Capitol, Hon. Ray J. Madden (chairman of the committee), presiding
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be in order. Today we are resuming the impoundment hearings and we have Congressman Jones of Oklahoma.
You may proceed, Congressman.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES R. JONES, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA
Mr. Jones. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I realize your schedule is heavy and I will answer any questions after making a few brief opening remarks.
I would say that based upon two things: my conversations with the people on the street, so to speak, back in my district, and with a number of legal scholars, both professors and practicing attorneys, I hope that this committee will act swiftly in reporting out a bill, and of course my choice would be the Mahon bill.
I come from a district which President Nixon carried by over 100,000 votes and I was the first Democrat to be elected in 22 years from that particular congressional district.
So it is not an antiadministration feeling in that district. I have talked to a number of people of both parties. They both look at this impoundment bill in the same light as I do. It is a very basic law and order question, the basic law of the land, the Constitution and who shall determine the spending and priority items, determining the priorities for the Federal Government.
I think most of the people in my district, based upon my conversations with them and the responses to our television debate on the subject of impoundment, the feeling is that to do less than to statutorily set the limits as to what the executive and the legislative branches should do would be very detrimental to the future type of government we want to have.
It may be that in my district 100 percent of President Nixon's impounding cuts are agreed to and are sympathized with.
But what my district looks at is 3 and 4 years down the road when there is a new President, when we may have a different set of prior
ities, and then they want their Congressman to have some power to be able to go back to Washington and have some influence in representing their viewpoints.
They feel that if we don't pass legislation such as this impoundment bill that Congress will be reduced to second-class status without any power to represent the viewpoints of the districts.
So I would urge swift approval. I would hope that the Mahon bill would be the one that would be reported out. I have talked to a number of scholars, as I say, on behalf of Speaker Albert who requested their opinions, and I think the majority of those that I talked to prefer the Mahon bill.
I think it is important to build into the record that this legislation in no way gives the executive branch any constitutional license for impoundment, but this merely through statute sets limitations and some guidelines.
So with those comments, Mr. Chairman, I would again request that this committee act as swiftly as possible, and I submit to any questions.
The Chairman. We are very happy to hear those words from the Congressman.
I might say that these hearings started several weeks ago, but on account of the pressure of the leadership wanting to get other legislation out before the Easter recess, we were unable to terminate the hearings or finish up the various witnesses that wanted to testify.
We met about every day the week previous to the Easter recess. Of course, we were out a week during that recess.
It is my desire and I think the desire of the committee to hear all the witnesses who want to testify and there will be several to submit statements. I have in my hand here requests from several distinguished scholars. One is from Prof. Robert A. Burt of the University of Michigan Law School. He has requested to come before the committee.
Others are Prof. Louis H. Pollack of Yale University Law School, Prof. Arthur Maass of Harvard University and Prof. Joseph Cooper of Rice University in Texas.
They have requested to be heard. I think the committee wants to hear them and eventually submit legislation to the House because there is a terrific demand that something be done on this impoundment question.
I am glad to get the testimony that you just offered Mr. Jones.
Mr. QUILLEN. Mr. Jones, vou realize in the previous hearings that a number of Members of Congress have testified that the Mahon bill will not work?
Mr. Joxes. I think there is some very legitimate disagreement. I think it has to be looked at in terms of what we can do, as far as what is possible. I would say the Mahon approach, from that standpoint, would be the best approach.
Mr. QUILLEX. Mr. Mahon. I believe, said his bill was a very narrow one. Others said, because it provides for a concurrent resolution which would not go to the President for approval, it would not be constitutional or indicated it might not be constitutional,
I wondered if you realized that?
Mr. Jones. I don't see the constitutional question being valid, based upon my research. I think it would be held constitutional. Actually, if I had my preference, I would take an approach somewhere in between which would allow instead of an affirmative or negative review by Congress as to Presidential impoundment, which is basically, I understand, the difference between the Ervin and Mahon bill, I would prefer to allow one body, either the House or the Senate, to reject a Presidential impoundment.
Mr. QUILLEN. Mr. Chairman, that is all. You did a good job.
Mr. YOUNG. I take it your concern goes to the priorities rather than the dollars and cents of any given program that the Congress is the proper functionary to assess the priorities and within the basic structure of the Constitution, that that is what needs the dissension more than actually what programs are being affected?
Mr. Jones. Yes, sir, I have seen this from two ends now. As Congressman Young knows, for 4 years I served on President Johnson's staff and saw it from that particular atmosphere and then as a freshman Congressman this year, and prior to that as a congressional assistant.
I have seen it from both ends. I think there is no question but that this erosion of congressional power goes back to at least the Kennedy administration, which was my beginning in Washington.
I think that there is no question but that Congress is the closest link between the Federal Government and the people and whereas a staff assistant or a President at the White House very seldom gets out in the street and has his ear bent as to really what is concerning people, Congressmen have this experience at least twice a month and some
cants aus ment
I think our founding fathers set up our form of government so that Congress should make these policy decisions. I think that we should reestablish our founding fathers' system.
Mr. Young. I am as concerned about those funds that have been earmarked for approval that come up here in the budget as to what the priorities are that have kept them in there and so forth as much as I am about the ones that are frozen.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Clawson. Let me ask the same question I have asked one or two other witnesses. This past year the Congress, by action in both Houses, although it didn't become law, certainly signaled loud and clear at the President's request that it wanted to provide a $250 billion spending ceiling.
That is what he asked for, that is what the Congress gave him in essence, even though it never did become law. Yet, there were $261 billion in appropriations.
Given that situation, what would you have done as President?
Mr. Jones. I think the President, probably from his viewpoint, made the right decision as he saw it. That is not the question. To me the question is should Congress have the responsibility, should Con