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Mr. ABERNETHY. Do you propose that we close the hearings right now?
Mr. DEWITT. I do not propose that you close the hearings until
Mr. ABERNETHY. That is why I asked you a moment ago whether you agreed with the Post, because if the other witnesses agree with the Post and do not come here and testify we can close up.
Mr. DEWITT. In answer to that question the best thing that I can say would be simply that my testimony has been short, and I made it purposely short in order to permit the committee to proceed with the hearings as rapidly as possible; and in the end the committee does want to find out if there are any points of view which are different and the committee should weigh that in their consideration. I have tried throughout my testimony not to deal with minor points in the bill but the very rudiments of why you have this bill before you.
Mr. ABERNETHY. Back a few weeks ago we had the question on the floor and right here in this committee, that there had been no hearings on a certain sales tax bill. How do you feel about that? That wa important piece of legislation.
Mr. DEWITT. I am not acquainted with the particular problem which you raise, that is the extent to which hearings were or were not held, because another representative of our organization was here to testify in that hearing. I have testified before on these matters.
Mr. ABERNETHY. Of course, I would like to ask some more questions but the Washington Post might suggest if I did that I was engaging in delaying tactics, so I am not going to ask any more questions. Thank you very much.
Mr. ĎEWITT. Thank you.
Mr. O'HARA. No questions. May I say that my reasons for not asking questions are not the same as Mr. Abernethy's.
Mr. ABERNETHY. The Washington Post might say you were delaying action if you did. Mr. ALLEN. I would like just to make this comment. Mr. HARRIS. Yes, Mr. Allen.
Mr. ALLEN. It seems to me the tenor of the statements this morning indicate that what the committee is seeking to find is the attitude, an expression of opinion concerning the bill, and Mr. DeWitt I think in a very commendable manner has come up and expressed the views of himself and his organization. In expressing them he has, while commenting on bottling things up, criticized the action we are taking in delaying the hearings and the outcome of these hearings by letting people in a very commendable fashion come up here and testify. I think they ought to be consistent, however, when they do come here and testify, and should not complain because we continue to listen to their testimony.
Mr. O'HARA. In that connection I should wonder how the question of law or a question of fact can properly be presented, any conclusion or the matter ultimately reached by the committee without having a hearing
Mr. ABERNETHY. Some of them might suggest that the Washington Post decide the situation.
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. DeWitt, we are glad to have had your statement, and I would like to ask you two or three questions in order to get your conclusions. I would like to have you explain to me why it is that you were heartily in favor of, and I am not asking this question critically you understand, why you were'a hearty supporter of the Auchincloss bill which was before the Congress in the last two sessions, and you now reflect your concern and support of the bill passed by the Senate known as the Kefauver bill which is quite different from the Auchincloss bill, in many respects, and at the same time you reflect a position favorable to the present Auchincloss bill and in one respect, which in the opinion of some people is the crux of this whole issue, that was the question of the constitutionality of the delegation of authority, in which the Constitution states that Congress shall have exclusive jurisdiction for legislating over the affairs of the District of Columbia.
Now, you have got three viewpoints expressed here on legislation that has for their ultimate objective some form of home rule.
It seems to me that the committee should have some expression, and I am not asking you to take a lot of time that is unnecessary or to try to draw you out to consume a lot of time, but that is a matter of some concern to me personally.
Mr. DEWITT. That raises a question that I would like one or two minutes to discuss: That AVC believes, as a result of a rather extensive analysis, that it is possible constitutionally for Congress to delegate to a municipal council its powers in the same Mr. HARRIS. I assume that is true,
and I do not think it is necessary to repeat that to any great extent, I do not think it is necessary to take up more time on that, but the point I was trying to bring out was your viewpoint, in that in the last Congress, the Eightieth Congress, you expressed the view in support of what then became known as the Auchincloss bill.
Mr. DEWITT. That is right.
Mr. HARRIS. Now you express your full support of what is called the Kefauver bill.
Mr. DEWITT. That is right also.
Mr. HARRIS. There is a lot of difference between the two bills, is there not?
Mr. DEWITT. There is some difference. In relation to the ultimate objective of the bills, the points of difference are minor, comparatively speaking, in giving the District citizens the right of franchise.
Mr. HARRIS. That is where there have been some differences of opinion.
Mr. DEWITT. There is the question
Mr. HARRIS. As to whether the points are minor, and the testimony of other witnesses, as well as Members of Congress, shows a vast difference of opinion, that they are not minor points, that they are fundamental.
Now you said just a few moments ago that you believed the present Auchincloss bill
Mr. DEWITT. If I did I was in error.
Mr. HARRIS. You say it is greater to the advantage, I believe was the statement you made, than the Kefauver bill was. Now there is a vast difference in the fundamental principles of the present Auchincloss bill to what is in the Kefauver bill and what was in the so-called Auchincloss bill was up in the last Congress.
Now do you expect the committee and the Congress, just because there is something before it, to adopt it, and to go right along because the ultimate objective in somebody's mind is to do something? Those are the things on which the committee would like to have some help.
Mr. DEWITT. In regard to that, our organization believes that whatever, in regard to the majority or plurality vote, in regard to the question of the manner in which Congress retains authority by veto or by positive legislative action upon bills passed by the Municipal Council
, that it is interested in securing action, and just as in the Constitution we have had amendments and Congress will and can exercise the power if the District of Columbia, through its municipally elected legislative group adopts certain ordinances can be changed just as changes have been made in other legislation.
There are many things which today we might advocate with reference to minor details of the bill which would have to be modified in view of future circumstances. The basic principle involved is simply that Congress can delegate just as it has delegated to the present Commission a good many powers, reserving the right to protect the Federal interest, which is necessary because of the unusual system that obtains in Washington relative to the Federal Government.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you very much, Mr. DeWitt.
STATEMENT OF JAMES WILLIAM BRYAN, REPRESENTING THE
DEMOCRATIC CENTRAL COMMITTEE
Mr. HARRIS. Our next witness will be Mr. James W. Bryan, from the Democratic Central Committee.
The commiitee will be glad to hear you at this point, Mr. Bryan, and I trust that you will take just as much time as you feel necessary in representing the Democratic Central Committee of the District.
Mr. BRYAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Harris. And if you have been inconvenienced or delayed we want to offer our apology.
Mr. BRYAN. Personally I have been neither inconvenienced nor delayed, Mr. Chairman, because I have enjoyed these proceedings, because to me they have been most extraordinary.
My name is James William Bryan--and spell the William out.
I come from the State of Tennessee, Mr. Chairman, and I have been here 37 years.
I am perhaps the dean of the Democratic workers in the District of Columbia. I have been to every national convention on my own, and especially can I say that consistently I have voted for home rule, some kind of home rule since the beginning of the home rule idea.
Since 1912 I have been on such a committee, and since 1892 the Democratic platform and the Republican platform, I believe, have included such a provision.
Now, Mr. Chairman, my desire is not to delay these proceedings, but a proceeding like this is very much like a barrel of fish hooks, when you take hold of one you pull out a lot of others.
I feel that there is a crying need, time or no time, for a summary on the part of the defense. I feel that it should be shown in the record as follows: That we are not, those of us who are for home rule, the razzle-dazzle, bobbed tails of the District of Columbia, that we stand on sound ground and have our place as citizens in this city; that the Board of Trade's last testimony was inspired, that it was based on self-interest; that the constitutional question, if you please, has been answered beyond per adventure of argument in the summation I would like to see made.
And here is the thing I feel most deeply. I have told you that I am from Tennessee. We love Estes Kefauver. We believe in Estes Kefauver; we believe he is a man of destiny. We believe that we have in him somebody in whom we are well pleased.
I have stood right here, and sat right here in this committee room and have heard the bill called every kind of name; every term has been used right in this committee room by members of this committee, one that the author, if you please, is the author of a phony bill, and undoubtedly as a political
Mr. HARRIS. Let me interrupt you: What member of this committee has referred to it as a phony bill?
Mr. BRYAN. His name is Abernethy. He has called it every name, and has led witnesses to say the same thing. He led this Dr. Shepard out to call it names that I do not even remember—it has been a long time since I shot craps on the levee. Now I
Mr. ABERNETHY. Just a minute. What were you referring to in that last remark?
Mr. BRYAN. I was
Mr. ABERNETHY. Just a minute. I want to understand what you meant by your last statement.
Mr. BRYAN. What last statement?
Mr. ABERNETHY. What did you mean by “It has been a long time since I shot craps on the levee”?
Mr. BRYAN. I mean, you said it was a phony; you called it various names that I did not understand, and when Dr. Shepard
Mr. ABERNETHY. What was that?
Mr. BRYAN. I said I did not remember. Did you not call the bill a phony bill? Mr. ABERNETHY. No, but if I did not I will call it that now. Mr. BRYAN. Thank you; that is all I want from you. Mr. ABERNETHY. That is not all I want from you. Mr. BRYAN. All right, go ahead.
Mr. ABERNETHY. I want to know what you meant by your statement "That it has been a long time since I shot craps on the levee”??
Mr. BRYAN. I meant that you were using various names that I did not recall, but you used some terms that I do not remember.
Mr. ABERNETHY. I stated that-
if you think I insulted him. I did not insult him.
Mr. BRYAN. I was here.
Mr. ABERNFTHY. You ought to be the last person to come here and say that
you have a right to take offense. He has not been offended. I have stated that this bill provides for creating a proxy council, have I not?
Mr. Bryan. Yes. I think you used that term among others. Mr. ABERNETHY. I stated that it sets up a proxy council. But who said it was a phony bill?
Mr. BRYAN. A man by the name of Abernethy from Mississippi.
Mr. ABERNETHY. Well, if I did not use it I will use it now. But what did Dr. Shepard say?
Mr. BRYAN. Well, you led him to say-
Mr. HARRIS. The Chair feels that the committee should proceed in order.
Mr. BRYAN. With your permission.
Mr. Bryan. I should like to follow up this summary, if it is of interest to the committee, and if the committee is not interested we will not insist upon it.
I have mentioned just now the fact that we are not the rag-tag bobbed tails of the District of Columbia, as they say, no reasonable man, would be found on the home rule bill, or words to that effect. I want to
that we are not in that group. We are not members of any subversive orgnaization, including the Communist Party or the Ku Klux Klan. I have never known a Communist or a fellow traveler, but I have known many members of the Klan, and I have seen them by the thousands, yes, as a newspaper man, by the tens of thousands in their conclaves and cross burnings and mammoth parade in Washington. This was one of the tremendous parades of the Ku Klux Klan.
Neither am I a member of the board of trade, but I have known many of its members, and for more than a generation have realized that this organization is through “special privilege” the true master of the District of Columbia. Indeed, asking Ed Colladay and his familiars about voteless Washington, in my opinion, is the same thing as asking Ed Crump about Memphis.
Aside from being a citizen of the District of Columbia-if there is such a thing-I attest my right to speak on behalf of the District on substantial grounds, for up to date I am primarily responsible for bringing approximately $12,000,000 of outside money to the District and investing it in taxpaying real estate, and if I may modestly so state, Mr. Chairman, this is more money than any other human beingliving or dead—has ever brought to this town and District, including the eminent counsel of the Board of Trade and his organization in its entirety as such.