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Senator WHERRY. Of course, as to your time limit on a filibuster, after you go through the regular filibuster you would give 1 hour to each Senator to debate the issue anyhow.
Senator PEPPER. You would always have this possibility. Suppose it was the desire of the Senate, through a majority, to take up, say, an a ppropriation bill, and other Senators were trying to delay this appropriation bill being taken up, by some kind of a filibuster, and they resorted to this tactic of one moving that we take up this and the other moving that we take up that, but sooner or later within a reasonable length of time the Senator who wanted to make that motion to take up that bill would be recognized by the Chair, and he would have a chance to get a vote on it.
Senator WHERRY. Going right on with the appropriations bill-we have had some pretty hot discussions on that—say you would limit the time to 1 hour to move to make that the pending business, and you got it up, then how much of a limit would you put on the discussion of the bill after it got up?
Senator PEPPER. Senator, may I come to that as my third point? Senator WHERRY. Certainly.
Senator PEPPER. The second point that I wish to emphasize is that a majority of the Senate should have the right to invoke a rule of relevancy at any time in the debate.
Senator WHERRY. On any debate ?
Senator PEPPER. On any debate. Now, we may go along in our own way, and I think it is a great institution, I mean I treasure the prerogatives that go with it. I never have engaged in what might be called a filibuster but at one time, and I never expect to do it again. But when I first came here in 1937 I engaged in a filibuster on an antilynching bill, and I am willing to have that speech analyzed and contend that it has relevancy, if no other virtue.
Senator WHERRY. When would you apply that rule of relevancy? Whenever anybody decided that something was irrelevant they would make the point of order and there you would be?
Senator PEPPER. Yes; the motion to invoke the rule of relevancy would again be a privileged motion, and again there would be a limited debate. In other words, if the ordinary, easy way in which we carry on our business is being violated by somebody who has obviously launched into a filibuster, talking about some extraneous subject, then any Senator would have the right to make a motion, which would be a privileged motion, to invoke the rule of relevancy. Thereafter the Senator speaking could continue to speak if his argument was determined by the Chair to be relevant to the subject under discussion.
Senator WHERRY. Is that provision in your amendment that you offered prior to this time?
Senator PEPPER. No, Senator; I have not incorporated these two points I have now mentioned in any written resolution. Now those are two things which I thought might be employed by the Senate and might progress the Senate's business without limiting the time of debate.
All you would say is that a majority vote may determine what is the pending business, and a majority vote may require relevancy of debate, which in no sense is a denial of any democratic privilege.
Now the third general approach toward the limitation of time of debate I have made in Senate Resolution 39 which I have introduced
Senator WHERRY. These other two matters do not come up in your resolution?
Senator PEPPER. They are not incorporated, Mr. Chairman, in my resolution.
Senator WHERRY. Do you expect to incorporate those ?
Senator PEPPER. I do want to amend my resolution later on and I will try to get that done and incorporate them here, but I did want to get them before the committee for consideration.
Now Senate Resolution 39, which I offered on January 8 provides in substance:
If a motion, signed by 16 Senators, to bring to a close the debate (1) upon a motion to take up a measure (now you know "pending measure" is the language of our present bill with respect to filibuster) together with any and all points of order against such measure, or (2) upon any pending question
Now, I have used the word "question” there instead of “measure” because, as the Senators know, no doubt, the Chair has ruled that pending measures only applies to something legislative in character, it doesn't apply to a motion to amend the Journal or to correct the Journal or anything like that, nor does it apply, under interpretations of the Senate in the past, as I understand it, to a point of order, and things like that; it only applies to something of a legislative character. But I have used the word "question” which is intended to comprehend any issue that is presented to the Senate.
Now upon a little more reflection I propose to amend that resolution, right after the word "question” in line 7, by inserting the following: or to fix the time for a vote upon any motion, measure, or question before the Senate, including all motions, amendments, or questions pertaining thereto. Now that was intended to broaden it so that it would cover almost any imaginable case. Continuing :
is presented to the Senate at any time after ten calendar days have elapsed since such debate has begun, the Presiding Officer shall at once state the motion to the Senate, and 1 hour after the Senate meets on the following calendar day but one, he shall lay the motion before the Senate and direct that the Secretary call the roll, and, upon the ascertainment that a quorum is present
Senator WHERRY (interposing). You mean there that after ten calendar days your motion would be eligible under the theory that you have had full debate ?
Senator PEPPER. That is it, thank you Senator. I have reflected considerably on what should be the length of time that ordinary, reasonable men would agree is fair debate upon almost any subject, and I just arbitrarily fixed 10 days. I wouldn't quarrel with 2 weeks, I wouldn't quarrel with 1 week. But I wanted to fix a time so that you couldn't invoke this rule, and it is going to provide later, this resolution of mine, that when such a petition is filed, a majority of the Senate without debate may determine whether or not debate shall be limited, and if a majority should find that debate should be limited,
then each Senator is limited to 1 hour upon the pending question and all amendments or motions pertaining thereto. Germaneness of amendments is required, and points of order, including questions of relevancy and appeals from the decision of the Presiding Officer shall be decided without debate.
Senator WHERRY. How are you going to have it presented? Like you do a cloture petition !
Senator PEPPER. Just exactly; in fact we have taken the present cloture rule and made certain changes in it. And it is a privileged motion, you know, the presentation of a cloture petition is a privileged motion.
Senator WHERRY. Here are three different resolutions and they differ mostly right in that procedure. Senator Saltonstall's resolution provides for striking out the words “pending measure” and in lieu thereof to insert "measure, motion, or other matter pending before the Senate, or the unfinished business.” That is as broad as yours there.
Senator PEPPER. Senator, if I understand it correctly, he doesn't have any time limit of an hour, he doesn't require 16 Senators or have any 10 days. He just allows a majority upon motion at any time
Senator WHERRY (interposing). Just like we do now, determining that there is full debate.
Senator Knowland's resolution provides:
If at any time a motion to bring to a close the debate upon any pending measure or motion is signed by 16 Senators, any Senator signing such motion shall upon a request for recognition be recognized by the Chair for the purpose of presenting such motion to the Senate, and when such motion is so presented to the Senate, the Presiding Officer shall at once state the motion to the Senate, and 1 hour after the Senate meets on the following calendar day but one, he shall lay the motion before the Senate and then is where you invoke the cloture rule.
Give us the difference between yours and those two.
Senator PEPPER. The essential difference between mine and theirs is, as I sketchily examined these other resolutions, I don't believe any of them lays down a preliminary period when debate may be assured before the motion of cloture may be invoked. Now since this is to be a change in the traditional policy and rules of the Senate, I would rather err on the side of leniency than on the side of stringency, because I know that there are many Senators and many people in the country who feel that that is one of the greatest attributes of the Senate, that we do have the only parliamentary body in the world today in which you can speak as long as you can stand, or, as Vice President Garner said one time, “When à Senator gets the floor only God can take him off.” And a great many people, a great many Senators, feel that that is an attribute that should not be discarded. But I feel that there must be weighed against the right of discussion and the right of debate the power to dispose of business.
We all know that in the law, the law's delay has been complained against for a long time, and we know the classic instances of how it has been ridiculed and disdained to show that the law seems never to get to the decision of a matter. So I have erred on the side of
leniency, if I may summarize, by providing in this resolution, first, that it cannot be invoked unless 16 Senators sign the petition
Senator WHERRY (interposing). That is the present provision.
Senator PEPPER. Yes; of our cloture rule. That is 16 Senators out of 96, a large proportion of the membership of the body.
Secondly, the petition could not be filed until after 10 calendar days had elapsed after the debate was in progress on the question that it is to be devoted to.
Senator WHERRY. One of the main arguments made by Senator Saltonstall was that we ought to be able to vote cloture because with the question of a war coming up, for instance
Senator PEPPER (interposing). In the first place we have not had any instances in our history that I know of where anything like that actually has been held up, and under the present rule we don't have to let 10 days elapse. I intended to leave the present rule, Senator.
Senator WHERRY. As I understand it, what you want to leave with the committee is that you are not going to determine what issue has been fully debated because if there is any doubt in your mind after you feel it has been fully debated you still give them 10 days in which to debate the issue before you invoke the cloture rule?
Senator PEPPER. That is right, they still have 10 days, and then the motion is never carried unless there is a majority of the Senate voting for it, and even then each Senator who wants to avail himself of it, has an additional hour.
Senator WHERRY. The same as he has now. Senator PEPPER. That is right. Senator WHERRY. You are not changing that? Senator PEPPER. Not at all. In the first place, I broaden the scope of the present rule, as I previously pointed out, beyond “pending measure,” to which it only applies at the present time. In the second place I lay down the requirement that debate must have lasted 10 days before the rule can be invoked, 10 calendar days.
(Discussion off the record.)
Senator PEPPER. And it changes the present cloture rule from being invoked by two-thirds to being invoked by a majority.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I will mention this against the background of the United States position in the world today. We are going to have treaty after treaty that will come up for our consideration. There will be trade agreements, there will be legislative enactments that do not have the character of treaties, and these things are always subject to controversy and differences of opinion and convictions very earnestly held or entertained by various Senators, and Senators may feel that something is of such importance that it justifies them in stopping the business of the Senate to try to delay the passage of that. So those things may be coming along from time to time. There may be many occasions when international agreements, or even international peace may be contingent upon the United States Senate being prepared to give an opinion upon something.
Take this situation, Mr. Chairman. I can well imagine that our representatives might be engaged in a very important international conference and they may wish to know what the Government of the United States will allow them to do. They call upon the President,
“Mr. President, how far can we go?” What can he tell them? Under the present rules of the Senate all he can say is, “I will submit it to the United States Senate; I cannot give you any assurance when
Ι the matter will even be voted upon in the United States Senate."
Now other nations of the world may not always be prepared to stand by until, under our present rules, the Senate determines to make a decision.
Senator WHERRY. Under your amendment, all you do is reduce the two-thirds rule to a majority rule to get performance on it?
Senator PEPPER. That is right.
Senator WHERRY. Let me ask you this. If it is as important as that, why shouldn't the Senate be so unanimous in its opinion that you wouldn't have any trouble in getting a two-thirds vote? Take a declaration of war, for example.
Senator PEPPER. I re ize re may be instancesSenator WHERRY. I am trying to bring out arguments that I feel will be advanced.
Senator PEPPER. Most things can wait 10 days to be decided.
Senator PEPPER. And if the President could say, “Well, I will guarantee you a decision by the United States Senate in 2 weeks,” and let the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee or somebody introduce a resolution that it is the sense of the Senate, and so forth, at least the leadership of the Senate could assure that inside of 2 weeks here could be a decision made by the United States Senate.
Senator WHERRY. You couldn't even guarantee that, because you would have to carry a cloture under a majority rule anyhow.
Senator PEPPER. I am assuming that a majority would be willing to give its approval. Of course, I am not suggesting any way by which a minority could control the majority. I am only trying to carry out the democratic principle that the majority of the body may in a proper way express the opinion, and it may become the will of the body.
As I said, since we propose such a stringent thing as a change of a long rule of the Senate and to go contrary to an ancient tradition of the Senate, I would rather err at the present time on the side of leniency, because for these matters that have ordinarily been the subject of filibuster, if we knew we could end it in 10 days, that would be satisfactory.
Senator WHERRY. Senator, this is off the question, in a way, and yet to some extent the principle is involved. Do you think we should reduce other two-thirds rules to majority rules in order to expedite the work of the Senate! Suppose the ratification of a treaty or the expulsion of a Member were before the Senate?
Senator PEPPER. As I have expressed it here, since we have so long had the privilege of unlimited debate, I am reluctant to take that privilege of unlimited debate away by a majority vote without some assurance of a minimum time of discussion under the rules if Senators wish to avail themselves of it. I realize that majorities do make mistakes, I think all history shows that, and they will make mistakes, but I am trying to reconcile the desire that we all have to make this still the freest democratic assembly in the world, the freest legislative assembly in the world. In the House of Commons—I was there in 1945 and