« AnteriorContinuar »
Mr. HARRIS. We are aware of the fact that our esteemed colleague from New Jersey, a member of this committee, has long been an advocate of home rule for the District of Columbia.
Mr. Auchincloss proposed, as chairman of the Subcommittee on Home Rule, in the Eightieth Congress, a rather lengthy and complicated measure, providing home rule. Then during the session of that Congress Mr. Auchincloss reintroduced a bill which was considered by his committee, reported, and for a brief time considered by the House of Representatives, but no final resolution was determined thereon. It became known as H. R. 28, to provide for home rule and reorganization in the District of Columbia, as it was reintroduced by him on January 3, the initial opening of this Eighty-first session of Congress.
We are glad to have our colleague and the author of this legislation before the committee this morning in order that he may explain the proposal for consideration during this session of Congress.
This meeting was called this morning for the purpose of giving opportunity for the authors of these various bills to explain their proposal, particularly the committee would like to hear the original sponsors of home-rule provisions, our colleague, Mr. Auchincloss, and Senator Kefauver, who was a member of the House during the last several Congresses and is now in the Senate of the United States, and who sponsored the bill which passed the Senate a few weeks ago.
At this time we are glad to recognize our colleague, Mr. Auchincloss, to proceed to explain the bill which he proposes, H. R. 28.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES C. AUCHINCLOSS, A REPRESENT
ATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Mr. AUCHINCLOSS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity.
I would like to suggest that I am not a Communist slaughter) although I am in favor of this bill.
Mr. HARRIS. I might say for the committee at this point we have known you for a long time and have been personally associated with you on this and other committees. You do not need to make such a statement for the benefit of any member of this committee, or in the Congress. As far as I know no one has indicated in any way that you were a Communist. We know you are a good American and an able Member of the Congress.
Mr. AUCHINCLOSS. Mr. Chairman, that statement was made in all good humor.
In my statement this morning, Mr. Chairman, I will first review the history of this legislation; second, outline the main features of the bill; and third, present arguments for a favorable report.
I. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY
On May 29, 1947, the House of Representatives authorized and directed the Committee on the District of Columbia to conduct a full and complete investigation and study of reorganization and home rule for the District of Columbia, and to report the results to the House with its recommendations. The expenditure of $30,000 was authorized for this purpose and $26,538.15 was actually spent.
Acting through its Subcommittee on Home Rule and Reorganiza.tion, the committee carried out the mandate of the House during the Eightieth Congress. With the aid of its professional staff, Dr. George B. Galloway and Mr. Clarence M. Pierce, intensive studies were made of the government and administration of the District of Columbia. These two men devoted their full time for more than a year to work on this legislation and I cannot praise them too highly for their excellent work. Six lawyers on the staff of House legislative counsel worked full time for more than 7 months on this subject and two other ·lawyers worked on it part-time for 4 months. The subcommittee, of which I had the honor to be chairman, heard testimony for 28 days when experts on local government, representatives of local civic organizations and Members of the House of Representatives appeared and discussed the reorganization of the District government and the question of home rule. The President designated the Director of the Bureau of the Budget as his representative and the testimony of these witnesses may be found in the printed hearings of the committee. Seventy-seven scheduled witnesses appeared before the committee, some of them as many as two or three times; 19 Members of Congress also appeared and 16 written statements were received and embodied in the hearings. At the conclusion of the hearings the subcommittee sought the opinions of experts on municipal government and 20 replies were received which contained detailed suggestions and plans, and in November 1949 the subcommittee issued a preliminary report. Shortly after the publication of this report the subcommittee held many meetings in executive session to consider the points suggested, and the forms of government in other American cities were examined.
In January 1948 the final report of the subcommittee was drawn up and on the basis of this final report a bill, H. R. 4902, was drafted and introduced into the Congress. An identical companion bill, S. 1968, was introduced in the Senate by Senator Joseph H. Ball, and joint hearings of the House and Senate subcommittees were held covering a period of 8 days, 3 of which were all-day sessions. Eighty-two witnesses were heard, of whom 57 testified in favor of the legislation, 11 testified in opposition, while 14 witnesses restricted their comments to specific sections of the bill. Up to the time the hearings were printed the subcommittee had received 35 resolutions of action taken by organized community groups in Washington and of these 29 were generally favorable to the legislation, 4 were in opposition, and 2 were undetermined as to their attitude.
The subcommittee, after considering every suggestion made at the joint hearings, drafted a clean bill, H. R. 6227, which I introduced in the House. The full District Committee considered this bill page by page for about 3 weeks before reporting it out and the Rules Committee inquired into it thoroughly before granting a rule. It was considered by the House in the Committee of the Whole for 2 days and remained unfinished business at the end of the session.
After the adjournment of the Eightieth Congress the subcommittee staff, under my direction, revised the bill H. R. 6227 that had been considered by the House in an effort to simplify it and the result is the bill H. R. 28 introduced by me in the Eighty-first Congress, which is now being considered by the committee.
It can be seen by this historical recital that the question of home rule and the reorganization of the District government has been very carefully studied with the benefit of not only the advice of residents of the District but also the advice of experts in municipal government.
II. MAIN FEATURES OF H. R. 28
Purpose of the bill
The objectives underlying H. R. 28 are threefold: (1) To relieve Congress as much as possible of the burdensome housekeeping functions of the District of Columbia, while still retaining essential control in Congress as required by the Constitution; (2) to create a representative local government for the District chosen by qualified electors; and (3) to provide an efficient and economical government for the District. Safeguards of the national interest
Four safeguards of the national interest in the Capital City are incorporated in this legislation. First, a Joint Standing Committee on the District of Columbia is established with a staff of experts to maintain constant oversight of the conduct of District affairs. Second, no legislative proposal authorized to be passed by the District Council shall become law unless Congress enacts a statute expressing its approval of such proposal. Third, the right of the President to approve or veto District bills remains unimpaired. Fourth, Congress, under the Constitution, can amend or annul this charter or any District law at any time. Gives District delegate in Congress
H. R. 28 authorizes qualified electors domiciled in the District of Columbia to elect a nonvoting Delegate to the House of Representatives in November of the even-numbered years. The District Delegate would have the same rights and privileges as do the Delegates from Hawaii and Alaska. Candidates for this office must meet the age qualification for Members of the House and the District qualifications for elective officers.
This provision would give the District of Columbia a spokesman in Congress such as Alaska and Hawaii now have; the District had such a Delegate in the House during the Territorial regime (1871–74). This Delegate would be a member of the Joint District Committee, he could introduce bills approving District legislation, and he could relieve other Congressmen of District chores. Grants limited home rule
H. R. 28 would grant home rule to the District of Columbia, within constitutional limits. It would do this by permitting the qualified voters of the District to elect a 12-member District Council and an 8-member Board of Education. The bill abolishes the present Board of Commissioners and transfers its ordinance-making functions to the Council which will be the governing body of the city. The Council would be elected in the November of odd-numbered years for staggered 4-year terms.
The Council would have power to elect a Mayor from among its members, to enact ordinances on local subjects, to propose general legislation to Congress, to adopt the District budget, and to appoint a District Manager.
The Board of Education would choose its President, formulate educational policies for the public schools of the District, administer the local vocational rehabilitation program, and appoint a Superintendent of Schools.
This is as much home rule, I believe, as the Constitution permits, and it is also as much as the States customarily grant their own cities. Provides manager plan of city government
H. R. 28 authorizes the District Council to appoint, compensate, and remove a District Manager and the bill defines his powers and duties as the chief executive officer of the District government. He would be appointed for an indefinite term on the basis of ability and he is removable by the Council. He would appoint the department heads, prepare the annual budget, advise the Council, and direct the entire city administration under the constant control of the Council.
Under the manager plan, there is a unification of power in the Council, but a separation of functions as between the Council and the Manager. The Council would formulate local policies and enact them; the Manager and the departments would execute these policies. The manager form of government has long been recommended in the model city charter of the National Municipal League. Modernizes the obsolete administrative structure
H. R. 28 modernizes the obsolute administrative structure of the District government which has grown so rapidly during the past decade. It consolidates along functional lines more than 60 scattered local government agencies into the 12 departments of Health, Welfare, Recreation, Public Safety, Finance, Law, Public Works, Libraries, Labor, Commerce, Corrections, Occupational, and Professional Standards.
It provides that each department be headed by a Director appointed and removable by the Manager, at salaries to be fixed by the Council. The bill also authorizes the department heads to reorganize their departments internally, subject to the Manager's approval, and to create or abolish offices or positions therein.
The need of streamlining the diffuse administrative structure of the District government is generally conceded, even by the opponents of home rule. For 30 years reform of the District government has been a common feature of all the many studies and reports in this field. Provides for local elections
H. R. 28 provides for a five-member Board of Elections, to be appointed initially by the President, to conduct the permanent registration of voters and nonpartisan elections. The first election would be held February 7, 1950.
Qualified electors would be United States citizens, 21 years of age or older, resident or domiciled in the District for 1 year, who are able to read and write English, are mentally competent, and have not been convicted of felony.
Only persons resident or domiciled in the District could run for local office, and only persons domiciled in the District could vote for Delegate.
The bill provides that nominations would be by petition signed by 90 qualified electors. Candidates would have to deposit a filing
fee of $125 for the Delegate position, $30 for a position on the Council, and $25 for a position on the Board of Education. Positions on the Council and School Board would be numbered and each candidate would run for a particular numbered position. If no caniddate for a particular place obtained a majority vote in the primary election, the two top candidates for that position would compete in a final or general election.
All elections would be at large and by majority vote. Dual voting plan
The bill, H. R. 28, provides that, "to be qualified to vote in the District, it is not intended that a person be required to relinquish his rights in another jurisdiction” (sec. 1306–a), and I may add that this provision is a common feature of all the bills now under consideration. This means that a person who is qualified to vote in District elections, but maintains a legal domicile in one of the States, need not surrender that domicile in order to vote here. Such a person, under these bills, would be permitted to vote in the District of Columbia for members of the Council and the School Board (but not for delegate), and also to vote in his home State for State and national officers. While such a person could vote in two places, he would not be voting twice for the same candidate for the same office.
The purpose of this so-called dual voting plan is to increase the size and improve the composition of the District electorate by enfranchising the many thousands of Federal officials and employees who actually reside in the District of Columbia and pay taxes here. It is estimated that there are 200,000 Federal employees resident in the District of Columbia, and that one-half of them maintain legal domiciles in the States.
These local residents who work for the Federal Government would represent a highly intelligent vote, not only because they have an occupational knowledge of public affairs, but also because many of them have a material stake in this community. They own property here, pay property and sales taxes here, send their children to local schools, depend upon municipal services here, and often live their entire adult life in Washington. This bill would allow them to participate in the local government, and without such a provision, Federal employees who live here but maintain domiciles in some States, might be discriminated against without any adequate defense.
This dual voting plan was approved by the House District Committee in the Eightieth Congress after careful study. In response to an inquiry of the subcommittee referred to above, the governors and attorneys general of 32 States advised that the laws of their respective States did not conflict with the proposed plan for limited dual suffrage; the officials of 8 States indicated that their laws were unfavorable to the proposal; while the officials of two of these States said that they would consider State legislation to permit it.
One objection raised against this dual voting scheme has been the allegation that the right to vote in two jurisdictions would create a serious doubt as to a citizen's liability for the payment of income and inheritance taxes. H. R. 28 provides (in sec. 1307-a-4) that no person shall be registered to vote in the District of Columbia unless he executes a registration affidavit showing, among other things, where he is domiciled. I submit that such an affidavit would remove all