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I am in favor of getting all of the facts from the departments and from the President, because we have heard a lot of this talk about the consolidation and
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Will the gentleman yield ?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. We have just recently appointed a special economy committee to get all of this information that the gentleman from Arkansas is asking for. As far as I am concerned, I do not think it would be appropriate for this committee to pass a resolution of the character the gentleman has just proposed.
Mr. MILLER. Now, the gentleman will understand what I am trying to get at Mr. WILLIAMSON. I think I do that; yes.
Mr. MILLER. I have not been here long enough to have been covered up in politics and
Mr. WILLIAMSON. I can not recall that the Congress has ever passed a resolution calling on the President
Mr. MILLER. I am just trying to get at something concrete and to really accomplish something.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Certainly.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I move that we adjourn, Mr. Chairman, as it is 12 o'clock.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, it is moved that we adjourn, so we will adjourn.
(Thereupon, at 12 o'clok noon, the committee adjourned, subject to the call of the chairman.)
PUBLIC WORKS ADMINISTRATION
TUESDAY, MARCH 1, 1932
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10 o'clock a. m., Hon. John J. Cochran (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be in order. Before proceeding with the hearing, I would like to call the attention of the members to the fact that activities of the Department of Agriculture are included in this bill, public roads and others; of course, it is a very important activity. Secretary Hyde has not replied to the committee's letter of January 7. I wanted to suggest to the committee that the chairman be directed to send him a communication asking if it would be convenient for him to appear here on Thursday.
Mr. SCHAFER. I will amend that to send a communication requesting him to appear.
The CHAIRMAN. I have not sent him a letter, other than the one asking his opinion on the bill; he has not yet been asked to appear. Mr. MARTIN. Has he answered the other letter?
The CHAIRMAN. I have not had any reply at all from Mr. Hyde. I will send this up by special messenger.
Mr. SCHAFER. Let us not delay now. Each day we are coming closer to the legislative jam. The telephone is here. I make a motion that the Chairman telephone Secretary Hyde and ask him if he can appear before the committee on that date.
The CHAIRMAN. I will send this letter up by the clerk immediately. Mr. Wilson. I think those matters ought to be in the discretion of the Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. We will ask whether it will be convenient for him to appear before the committee. The letter I have written him is as follows:
By direction of the committee I am writing to you to ask whether it will be convenient for you to appear before the committee Thursday, March 3, in connection with the bill to establish an administration of public works.
The committee dispatched a letter to you on January 7, requesting an expression on these bills from your department, but has never received a reply.
As the legislation contains paragraphs affecting your department, the committee would like to have your views.
If he does not come in, you can then do as you please.
Mr. DALLINGER. Mr. Chairman, in this connection, I would like to ask what is the status of that rule that you have asked for, giving this committee the right to subpæna witnesses.
The CHAIRMAN. We have the right to get the Government officials, the rule is to give us additional power to subpæna witnesses, and so forth. We appeared before the committee, five of us did, stated our case,
but the committee has never acted. Mr. SCHAFER. Why do they not act?
The CHAIRMAN. You must ask them. They pigeon hole many such resolutions.
Mr. SCHAFER. We ought to be able to find out why the rules committee does not act.
The CHAIRMAN. They say you may not need it. Further it provides for spending money, money is scarce.
Mr. SCHAFER. On the other hand, the leaders of the party, in control of the Rules Committee, continually condemn this committee for not functioning.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. What other cabinet officers have you asked to appear, and when?
The CHAIRMAN. I am going to ask Mr. Hyde to appear Thursday.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I appreciate that; what other cabinet officers have you asked to attend?
The CHAIRMAN. None.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. The understanding the other day was we would ask the Treasury, the Navy, the Post Office, and the Agricultural Departments to appear.
Mr. MARTIN. And the Interior, too.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Yes; the Secretary of the Interior. It was my understanding the other day the chairman was requested to invite the Secretary of War or any person he might designate, the same with respect to the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of the Navy.
The CHAIRMAN. I was not instructed to invite the Secretary of War; I was instructed to invite General Brown:
Mr. WHITTINGTON. No. In addition to that, Mr. Chairman, my recollection is that the chairman was requested to invite the cabinet officers named.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; but not the Secretary of War; you did not mention
Mr. WHITTINGTON. You had already invited him; he declined to appear.
The CHAIRMAN. You suggested we invite General Brown to represent the department.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. That is right..
The CHAIRMAN. The others, I am going to invite, but we have to make engagements when we know they can appear.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. You are going to invite them?
Mr. BRITTEN. May I suggest, Mr. Chairman, the Navy Department is represented this morning ?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; the Navy is represented by Admiral Parsons this morning.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN J. COCHRAN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM MISSOURI
Mr. COCHRAN. Before proceeding, we are going to take up two bills, one introduced by Mr. Williamson, and one introduced by myself.
I would like to make a brief statement here to the committee, of course, I am going to speak very much in favor of my own bill.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Is that your public works bill?
Mr. COCHRAN. Yes; the Cochran bill is H. R. 6670; the Williamson bill is H. R. 6665.
The Cochran bill aimed at the establishment of a nonpolitical organization, somewhat along the lines of the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, creating the General Accounting Office, while the Williamson bill frankly established a political office.
These points of difference are apparent. Section 1 of the Williamson bill provides that the administration shall be appointed by the President by and with the consent and advice of the Senate, and fixes no term of office. The Cochran bill provides for a similar appointment of the administrator of public works, but fixes a term of office of 15 years, with a provision that during that period he shall not be removed, except for inefficiency, neglect of duty, malfeasance in office, but for no other cause. It also requires the President to communicate to Congress the fact of the removal of any
administrator, together with the reasons therefor.
The history of the Government shall show that men appointed to office without term and removable at the pleasure of the President are generally removed with every change of administration and are always removed with every change of political parties in power. It requires no imagination to see that the Williamson bill would establish an administrator to be removed with every change in administration or at least with every change of party in power, with the result that an administrator would hardly have time to become even in part familiar with the many duties of constructing building, building levees and dams, constructing roads, and so forth, until he was removed from office. The spending of public money for the construction of public buildings is not a political function, and the officer charged with that responsibility should not be made a political officer and subjected to all the political influences, whether Democratic or Republican, or a combination of the two.
Mr. SCHAFER. May I interrupt you there for a moment ? How can you say that the spending of money for public buildings is not a political function, as an argument against the Williamson bill, while in fact people elected on political issues, Members of Congress, under the Constitution, are the ones that authorize the spending of the money?
Mr. COCHRAN. I said:
The spending of public money for the construction of public buildings is not a political function, and the officer charged with that responsibility should not be made a political officer and subjected to all the political influences, whether Democratic or Republican, or a combination of the two.