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Secondly, I would like to say that insofar as the impression that is conveyed that all of the officers moreover endorsed this, I do not think that is correct. I, for one, did not. You may have certain doubts left there, but the important thing in Mr. Hershman's statement and my statement, as to which is accurate, is that the MacArthur Citizens' Association as an association went on record in favor of home rule, and the minutes will show that, and I shall supply them to your. In addition, the committee asked that the delegate express to the committee that the general position it took last year in favor of the Auchincloss measure was again supported this year. That is the burden of my testimony, and I think that in all fairness to the views of the association that would be the burden of anybody's testimony who was present at that meeting, who understands the action that was taken. However, it takes the association to take action. I am purely an agent, bringing that to your attention.
Mr. HARRIS. Yes; there is no difference evidently in the position you have just stated as the general position in favor of home rule, and that which is stated in this letter. It seems to me the only thing is what is in this statement, which seems to me of little importance.
Mr. BATZELL. I think it is of little moment myself.
Mr. ABERNETHY. The association has approved the policy, or whatever you might call it, of home rule for the District of Columbia ?
Mr. BATZELL. That is correct.
Mr. ABERNETHY. They have left to the committee and the Congress the nature of the legislation and the question as to whether or not the Congress can confer home rule upon the District of Columbia under section 8 of article I of the Constitution?
Mr. BATZELL. They did not consider the constitutional problems that may be involved.
I would say this, however, that the organization did not consider home rule as an abstract proposition. It considered it in terms of the pending legislation. What they did not consider was any of the pros or cons of a particular form of city-manager plan. This was discussed, but they felt that they could not go into the many details involved in that. What they did approve was home rule embodying, in general, the types of principles which are apparent in the current legislation now before you. Now, there may be legal limitations necessitating changes in those principles. They certainly did not consider that, and I am not authorized to make any comment in that respect.
Mr. ABERNETHY. Have you studied these bills?
Mr. BATZELL. I would say this: I regard them in this way—and this is personal, you understand, and has nothing to do with what the feeling of the association-is that they convey a degree of local suffrage on many local matters, which is highly desirable, and they provide to the people of the District of Columbia a procedural mechanism which does not now exist for bringing to the attention of Congress on governmental matters important changes in the laws of the District which should be effected.
I am an attorney. I can think of many instances where the laws of the District of Columbia, by comparison with States, such as New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Maryland, particularly corporation law, for example, could stand some considerable revision and be of benefit to the tax position of the District, and of benefit in its corporate activity in the District, and general benefit to the welfare of the people of the District. It is difficult because you people are burdened by many other things, responsibilities and duties to bring these things to your attention.
A mechanism is provided in this legislation whereby these local matters can be threshed out and a reasonable decision can be reached on an acceptable measure, and much of that prescreening done, and the pros and cons pitched up to you. That can be presented to you and you will have a much better opportunity for considering it, and seeing the views that there are on it than you have at the present time, I believe, simply because of the many burdens of office that necessarily fall upon a Congressman who conscientiously tries to represent his constituents, and I know Congressmen who try to do that.
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Allen.
Mr. ALLEN. Mr. Batzell, specifically, do you remember whether the Auchincloss bill of last year had reached its final form before your association considered and approved it? More specifically the final form provided for a procedure under which legislative proposals would be submitted to the Congress and affirmative action taken by both Houses, and the signature of the President was thereafter necessary to give them the force of law.
Now, did your association know when it acted that every legislative proposal by its elected officials would thereafter have to go through that process in the Congress?
Mr. BATZELL. No; we acted at a time when the Auchincloss measure had not reached that degree of completion. It was, as a matter of fact, prior to the actual hearings on the Auchincloss measure that the association acted. The question was raised subsequently, after the Auchincloss measure had gone through revisions, as to whether we should again reconsider it as a body as a whole. was taken on it, but I think the general feeling was that we were in favor of the principles of home rule, and that some of these problems might have to be worked out, but we did not want to get into all of the details that were involved in the measure at that time.
Frankly, our program for the citizens' association did not ever assume responsibility in the spring to reconsider the measure in the detail that would have been warranted. Last year I was program chairman, and I say that with all frankness.
Mr. Harris. Thank you very much, Mr. Batzell; we appreciate your appearance and your testimony.
(The following card was submitted for inclusion in the record:)
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COMMITTEE
Subject of legislation: District home rule.
phone: Ordway 3661.
ciation. Address: Palisades Park. Membership total approximately 300.
Your position with organization: Representative to Northwest Council. Author
ity: Appointed by president to communicate position of MacArthur Boulevard
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Maynard B. DeWitt, representing the American Veterans Committee.
Mr. DEWITT. Yes, sir.
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. DeWitt, how much time do you require? It is 10 minutes after 12, and the House is in session and we have to adjourn.
Mr. DEWITT. That would depend upon how interested the members of the committee would be in my testimony. I can limit it or expand it, as it is necessary, depending upon how many questions are asked. I have testified on this previously.
Mr. Harris. Well, we are seeking information. Mr. DEWITT. That is what I am here for, to give you information. Mr. HARRIS. I think, perhaps, we better adjourn the committee. Off the record.
(Discussion off the record.) Mr. HARRIS. The committee will adjourn until 10 o'clock next Monday morning.
(Thereupon, at 12:15 p. m., the subcommittee adjourned until Monday, July 25, 1949, at 10 a. m.)
HOME RULE AND REORGANIZATION IN THE
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
MONDAY, JULY 25, 1949
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. The subcommittee met at 10 a. m., Hon. Oren Harris (chairman) presiding
Mr. HARRIS. The committee will be in order.
In view of what occurred at the close of the session last week, the chairman feels this statement is appropriate: At the initial opening of the hearings the committee adopted a policy to expedite the bearing as quickly as we could possibly do so consistent with the desire to give an opportunity to all those who wished to express themselves. We felt that the second part of this policy as stated was almost an impossible one, and we had to limit the time to some extent of those who appeared or else we would be here indefinitely.
Consequently it was the committee's policy to hear representatives of organizations and in this way we would be likely to get the views of most everyone who is interested in expressing themselves, and we thought we would be preserving the right of petition to the Congress of the United States.
It was the thought of the committee at that time that within 2 weeks, a reasonable time, with one or two sessions each week, that we could conclude the hearings. Time went on and unfortunately we had some interference with business of the House, and because the membership of this committee, like all other Members of Congress, was exceedingly busy with the affairs of, not only the District of Columbua but of the Nation, and also the committee did not feel it was compelled to treat this any differently than any other legislation affecting the District of Columbia.
Consequently the concern that was expressed last week at the close of the session, the committee did not feel was justified. Every organization and individual who insists on being heard will be heard. There has been no preference whatsoever so far as witnesses are concerned and so far as placing them on the agenda by the committee.
And it might be said, to preserve the record, that the first 2 days, and I believe the third day was taken up by proponents, including Members of Congress; that witnesses have been interspersed in accordance with the requests made to the clerk of this committee and to members of this committee, and it shall be our purpose to carry out that policy.
Again I would like to express on behalf of the committee our sincere desire to complete these hearings within this week, and in this respect I should like to refer to an editorial that appeared in one of the great papers of the District of Columbia, the Washington Post, on yesterday, Sunday, July 24, 1949, entitled “Home-Rule Bogey.'
I can appreciate the editorial policy of any paper; I think I can appreciate the interest that some people manifest in a problem like this that is so far reaching, and I think I can appreciate the situation where there is prejudice and bias involved, but the unwarranted attack, apparently, the deliberate distortion of facts that actually occurred in that great paper seems to me somewhat unfortunate. I should like to quote a part of this editorial as follows:
If endless talk to prevent legislative action is a filibuster, the home-rule hearings before Representative Oren Harris are getting close to the point of qualifying.
I feel that is a reflection, full of implication, which does not state the actual facts as the record will show.
As the hearings go on and on, the chance of getting action on the Senate-passed Kefauver bill fades. Mr. Harris says that he would like to end the hearings, yet he appears happy to listen to any kind of lengthy argument against the bill.
That, in my opinion, is nothing but a reflection of ill repute and it seems to me deserves an apology. The editorial certainly could have carried the truth by stating the facts; that more than one Member of Congress, in fact, those who were sponsoring the bill took the first and second days; that another Member of Congress, Mr. Hays of Arkansas, took over an hour expressing himself before the committee in support of so-called home rule; that the chairman of this committee had indicated for the last 10 days that he hoped these hearings could be completed; notwithstanding this, on July 9, 1949, a communication carried through this paper was transmitted to me and to this committee, which I will have inserted in the record at this point, in which it was stated that in view of the fact that these hearings should be expedited, those interested and wanting their interest to be made known would defer appearing before the committee, and would file their statements if they felt desirable. That statement was signed by the Washington Home Rule Committee, the Central Suffrage Conference, the League of Women Voters of the Distriet of Columbia, the District of Columbia Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action, and the Democratic Central Committee for the District of Columbia. (The letter referred to follows:)
JULY 9, 1949. To the ChaiRMAN OF THE HOUSE DISTRICT COMMITTEE:
The Kefauver bill for home rule in the District of Columbia was passed overwhelmingly by the Senate on May 31, 1949, and sent to the House. The bill was referred to the House District Committee on June 1, 1949, almost 6 weeks ago.
During the past 6 weeks the Judiciary Subcommittee of the House District Committee has held only three morning sessions to hear witnesses on home-rule legislation. Only a handful of the many witnesses requesting to appear have so far been heard. The Judiciary Subcommittee has not yet set a date for its next hearing
If the subcommittee does not take prompt and effective action to speed up its hearings and reach a decision, the House of Representatives will be denied the opportunity to take action on the measure before adjournment.
We, therefore, urge the District Committee to do everything in its power to hold successive daily hearings and make a decision on home rule. If it will assist the committee in any way to wind up its deliberations, we feel confident that the fifty-odd remaining witnesses requesting to testify in favor of home rule would be glad to submit written statements, and limit themselves to brief 5minute apprarances before the committee. Home rule has been exhaustively studied and debated by the House District Committee for the past 2 years, and every member of the subcommittee must now be familiar with the issues involved.