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that now exists I apprehend that you will go to a bare majority of a quorum.
Senator WHERRY. That is a good argument. That pressure is going to be exerted just as tremendously and powerfully as it is being exerted today.
Senator Ives. Senator Overton, I know you are an authority in this field, and I would like to ask you this question: What would you think of having a constitutional amendment to require that legislation received, in its passage, a majority of all the elected Members of each House? I am just curious as to your opinion.
Senator OVERTON. If that is your thought, I beg to differ with you.
Senator Ives. I am not advocating it, but there are a great many States that have that requirement in their States.
Senator OVERTON. That may be, but their legislators meet for a very short time, as a rule, and they are generally right there present and able to vote. We meet for such a length of time that there necessarily are absences, and I don't think it would be a very wise thing to do.
Senator Ives. It certainly would prevent some harmful legislation from being enacted.
Senator OVERTON. Yes; and so does the present two-thirds rule on cloture.
Any amendment that, either promptly or after delay, shuts off debate by a mere majority vote, will result in the rather prompt passage, I think--and I will add, by a majority of a quorum or a majority of the whole Senate-of bills directed against the South by both northern Democrats and Republicans-I am nonpartisan in that observation--in order to gain the favor of the vote of the colored men and their coagitators in doubtful States.
Senator Ives. Right there I will take issue with you on that having been evolved for a certain purpose.
Senator OVERTON. I will unhesitatingly accept your statement, but I am speaking generally of the Members of the Senate; I don't think there can be a successful denial of that statement.
I have no doubt that each national party will claim the victory in the enactment of such legislation. But the day will come when States and sections of the country from which come Senators who presently advocate a majority cloture rule will have the poisoned chalice presented to their own lips.
Senator WHERRY. Thank you, Senator. Are there any further questions? If you have anything further that you think might be good for the record, we would be glad to have you file it, even afterward.
Senator OVERTON. Mr. Chairman, I apoligize-I prepared this statement in about an hour in my office, and I had the Library of Congress make the research for me
Senator WHERRY (interposing). There is no need of apologizing for your presentation. Thank you, Senator 'Overton.
All right, Senator Connally.
Senator CONNALLY. I will either talk now or wait for your future meeting
Senator WHERRY. Whichever will best suit your convenience, but if you can talk now we would like to have you. Or if you would rather wait, that will be satisfactory.
Senator CONNALLY. Then I will talk now, although I have no prepared statement and my testimony will be very brief.
Senator WHERRY. We would appreciate hearing from you.
STATEMENT OF HON. TOM CONNALLY, UNITED STATES SENATOR
FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Senator CONNALLY. Mr. Chairman, it seems to me that the present cloture rule is sufficient for all practical purposes to enable the Senate to force a vote whenever two-thirds of the membership desire it.
As a matter of fact I want to say that one of the reasons these cloture petitions have heretofore failed, except in the three instances mentioned, has been because Democrats and Republicans both, on both sides, don't like cutting off debate. These so-called partisan filibusters that we have had over the years, had it not been for broad-minded Republicans that voted against cloture, would have been smashed right off the bat, isn't that true Senator Overton ?
Senator OVERTON. That is absolutely correct.
Senator CONNALLY. I know many men on the Republican side who never vote for cloture. For instance, and I think I can quote him now-he is dead and gone, our beloved Charlie McNary-I remember once or twice when I was interested in some so-called filibusters, I don't call them filibusters, I call them freedom of debate, where he expressed the opinion to me privately, and by his vote publicly, that he would never vote for cloture in the United States Senate. Now that was just his philosophy.
My primary objection is this, Mr. Chairman. The United States Senate is the only place in this Government, and as stated by Senator Byrd earlier, it is the only place in the whole civilized world, where there is freedom of debate and discussion.
In this modern time now, with the radio going every night and these columnists preaching stuff to the people, unless the people can hear the debates and hear the discussion and get the reaction from the floor of the United States Senate, their minds can become misinformed and poisoned by all of this propaganda and this agitation, much to their injury and their disadvantage.
I don't believe that the history, if somebody will hunt it down, over the whole period—I don't believe that the history of the so-called filibusters in the United States will result in anything except a verdict that most of the bills, maybe not all of them but a majority of the bills, the great majority of the bill against which the so-called filibusters were aimed, were essentially bad bills and should never have been passed. If they were good bills, the more debate there is on them and the more agitation there is about them, the more the people of the country will find out about them and centralize their support behind them, and ultimately they will be enacted. You can't filibuster against a thing for your whole lifetime. You may filibuster against it once or twice successfully, but in the end, if it is a really meritorious measure the more debate and discussion is had on it, the greater the probability is that it will finally pass.
That has been true of several of these measures, as has been pointed out, that they were defeated by filibusters at one time and a year or two later, perhaps, they were enacted.
But my chief difficulty in the matter is to keep a free debate. We talk about free prešs. Free press is all right, but what is free press as compared to the freedom of the people's representatives, elected by the people to perform the highest functions known to civilized man; if he can't debate and can't express his views for his constituents and his State and his people, what is the use of free press or free anything else?
That is my chief objection. What is greater, among the “four freedoms” than freedom of debate in the Senate of the United States? If
is a flimsy cause there are more men on the other side to tear it apart and to expose it and to hold up its hideous features to the public, than there are those who favor it.
Now you have got a rule—I won't go into it, you know what it isthat upon the signature of 16 Members of the Senate, following one day over, it shall be set down and a vote had, and if two-thirds of the Senate, after 1 hour debate per Senator, if two-thirds of those present vote that they don't want any more debate, the debate is cut off.
I probably wouldn't have voted for it when it was originally adopted, but we have got it now and it is good enough, I don't complain about it. I am willing to take my chances, if I have a bill that I want to resist to the death, because I know I can always convince enough Republicans on the other side of the fence of the futility and injustice of the whole rule. There are a lot of them that have never voted for cloture. Maybe now and then one of them might, but as a rule the longer they have been here the more they are for freedom of debate. The longer a Senator has been in the United States Senate the more he is against cloture. I will lay that down as a sound proposition.
Now I don't mean to reflect on any new Members, and am not reflecting on any new Members, but we all know how when Members are first elected, “Oh, I must get up there, I am going to pass this bill, and I am going to start things going, and we are going to revolutionize the government”, and so forth and so on. But after they have been here a while and have gone up against these propositions, they become more and more conservative about these things.
Senator WHERRY. You mean they become more indoctrinated with the philosophy that is already here? Is that right?
Senator CONNALLY. Well, that may be, but it is just a question of experience.
Now there is a perfectly legitimate reason for this two-thirds rule that we talk about in the Constitution, those various rules. The purpose of those rules is to prevent a bare majority from doing these things.
Senator WHERRY. In other words, Senator, you feel that if cloture is invoked, even though you might want to vote for it sometime, that it ought to take a two-thirds rule in order to invoke it?
Senator CONNALLY. Absolutely. And the reason for all these twothirds rules in the Constitution is to prevent a majority from deciding the issue, which these resolutions are seeking to impose on us. not going to let a bare, naked majority of one vote in a partisan body, and it is always partisan, it is always either Republican or Democratic
Senator WHERRY (interposing). I think most of these clotures have been handled on coalition votes.
Senator CONNALLY. I am talking about the Senate, though. I say that it will always be composed of a partisan majority, either Democratic or Republican, and I am not drawing the distinction against either one of them.
Senator WHERRY. I understand not.
Senator CONNALLY. I think it will be unless we have some revolution. If you will just let us continue to exist under your rule, that will be true, if you don't liquidate us entirely. I think these resolutions are intended as instruments to liquidate us and just shut our mouths and close our minds
Senator Ives (interposing). I may have a lot of audacity but I am one of the new Members to whom you are addressing your remarks
Senator CONNALLY (interposing). I was a new Member once.
Senator Ives. But I can't help but observing, in what you have said, that what you are talking about in connection with the twothirds vote is equally applicable when it comes to the 49. You will have just as much trouble getting 49—
Senator CONNALLY (interposing). That may be true, but why change the rule? You have got it now; why change it on the theory that 79 is just as good as two-thirds! Why not leave it at two-thirds?
Senator WHERRY. That is what I would like to have explained. If it is true that it has only been invoked three times it gets down to a pretty small question when you get right down to it. I wonder if these Senators had these figures when they drew their resolutions, because that is something new to me. Only three times here, Senator, would that have carried with the constitutional majority of 49.
Senator Ives. After all, that is no argument against their resolutions.
Senator WHERRY. Nor, on the other hand, is it any argument for them.
I would like to still insist, if you gentlemen have the time, to get your research department to find out why the two-thirds rule was adopted. I can see this two-thirds proposition running all through. I think I stated that at the beginning of our hearings. It is the figure that they 'used, I believe, because it does occur so many times. I wonder, in the debates when they adopted this rule, if the question of a constitutional majority was ever brought up, and if so, why they turned it down and instead decided on the two-thirds, because everything you are saying, as the Senator from New York has said, is true so far as the constitutional majority rule is concerned, with the exception of three times, in the past 40 years.
Senator Ives. And two out of those three times, the legislation was passed afterward.
Senator OVERTON. Why adopt your rule? It won't change the thing.
Senator Ives. Because I believe that a legislative body, so far as its procedure is concerned, should operate by the majority.
Senator CONNALLY. Of those present? Senator Ives. Of those elected. Senator CONNALLY. It doesn't apply on anything else. A majority of those present can pass a bill or a law.
Senator Ives. What we are talking about is a majority of the elected members.
Senator CONNALLY. I know that, but it doesn't apply to anything else, and you want it to apply to the cloture alone.
There is a reason for these two-thirds things, they were trying to prevent any action by a narrow majority vote where they knew the parties were going to be probably almost equally balanced. They were going to require something more. Now it is perfectly conceivable, as Senator Overton pointed out, that you might have a partisan majority, they might have a caucus and put their Members under the rule and squeeze something through by a bare majority of one vote; when, if they were turned loose to vote their free will under the two-thirds rule, they wouldn't vote that way. After all, the Senate of the United States is a dignified body, it is one that is composed of high-class men through the selective process, and it seems to be that they can be trusted to regulate this matter under their present rule, which is all sufficient if there are enough people that want to cut off debate. And if there are not enough people who want to cut off debate, it oughtn't to be cut off.
I very much hope that you will not adopt anything at all, for that matter, because I regard the present rule as capable and competent, and, as you say, there are only three times, in the whole history of modern times at least, where they would have adopted the cloture by any other means than the two-thirds, only three times, and 13 times they rejected it under the two-thirds rule.
I will tell you another thing. This tinkering with our rules every little while is not good for the country. I voted against this streamlining bill.
Senator OVERTON. So did I.
Senator CONNALLY. I voted against it because under the Constitution the Senate had got the power to make its own rules whenever it gets ready, and I was opposed to turning over that power to the House or anybody else, just a theory probably, maybe a wrong theory, but I voted against it.
So I think we have got good rules, and we ought to keep them, and this cloture is entirely sufficient just as we have it now, and I hope very much that we won't, in a spirit of going to do something about it now-we are going to choke these fellows off and we are going to ram something down their throat-I don't think that sort of a spirit ought to rule.
I apologize for not having a prepared statement.