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Senator Pepper, we expect to continue this hearing until next Tuesday, at which time the opponents of this measure will be invited to come in and give their testimony, next Tuesday at the same hour.
Senator PEPPER. I am very much interested.
Senator WHERRY. Senator Taylor, will you take up now S. Res. 32, sponsored jointly by you and Senator Morse?
STATEMENT OF HON. GLEN H. TAYLOR, UNITED STATES SENATOR
FROM THE STATE OF IDAHO
Senator TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am cosponsor of the antifilibuster resolution, Senate Resolution 32, with Senator Morse.
I did not ask to appear before the committee as I had assumed that Senator Morse would do so, but he is out of town and I have been unable to learn when he will return, which I hope will be in time to appear before you. So I am just pinch-hitting for him here and I feel I am a very poor substitute for Senator Morse.
Senator Morse has distinguished himself as perhaps the outstanding proponent of improvement of Senate procedure.
One reason why Senator Morse and I have cosponsored this bill is because we feel that a subject like the improvement of Senate procedure and the elimination of the filibuster should be above. partisan politics. We feel that a movement to modernize and utilize opportunities in Senate debate will redound to the benefit of all members and should have bipartisan support.
Senator WHERRY. And that is the reason why you and Senator Morse sponsored the resolution?
Senator TayloR. I said that eliminating the filibuster should be above partisan politics.
Senator WHERRY. I can see where you and Senator Morse sponsoring a resolution would make it bipartisan in your presentation, but I can't see where amending rule XXII by making a majority vote on cloture is a partisan question.
Senator TAYLOR. Well, it could be taken by the public as a partisan question.
Senator WHERRY. All right, I won't argue, you are giving the statement. I can't understand where there is any partisanship about it.
Senator TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, the great need of the Senate today is for increased democracy in its procedure. We are blundering along with a set of old rules which have long since become obsolete. These antiquated rules can be used in such a way as to defeat the will of the majority of the Senate. In short, the rules of the Senate as they exist today make democracy's highest law-making body itself one of the most undemocratic groups in the land.
Let us take for example the question of the poll tax. A majority of the members of both Houses have expressed their support of antipoll-tax legislation. The legislation passes the House, but when it reaches the Senate, what happens? Our body is suddenly stricken with paralysis. Into our veins is injected a fluid known as filibuster
and it becomes impossible for us to function. A small group of members can, between them, hold the floor for an indefinite period. When they talk they do not have to address themselves to the legislation. They can talk about anything they choose and they go on and on, and on, preventing any work by the Senate until such time as the majority, on bended knee and with hat in hand, begs them to call off the filibuster and agrees to drop the legislation which it, the majority, wants. Mr. Chairman, I submit that filibuster is a very polite word for this procedure. Some might well call it blackmail.
The antifilibuster resolution which I have submitted with Senator Morse, Senate Resolution 32, is designed to eliminate the filibuster fully and completely. You will note that it deals with one of the greatest loopholes, by making cloture applicable not only to debate upon legislation, similar to the provisions Senator Pepper was talking about, but also to debate upon the Journal. If you will recall, last spring during the debate on the FEPC, the filibuster was addressed to the reading of the Journal rather than to the legislation itself, so that we could not attempt cloture even if we so desired. This evil must be corrected immediately. In attempting to do away with these evils, Senator Morse and myself felt that we should not jump from the frying pan into the fire. We do not want to eliminate the filibuster only to inaugurate a new line of Senate authoritarianism of ihe Uncle Joe Cannon type. We recognize the value of full, fair, and complete discussion of every issue. We recognize that the Senate always is, has been, and should continue to be the greatest deliberative body in the world. Therefore, our resolution provides that there shall be sufficient time for complete debate. It provides that there shall be sufficient time for Members fully to inform themselves on the matters regarding which they will vote. Our cloture rule provides for three hours per Member after the cloture vote. This will make it possible for full discussion of a measure. It will do more than that; it will make it possible fully to call the public's attention to all of the factors involved. But when all that has been accomplished, there is no excuse for further debate. After the generous time alowance which we make in our bill there is no reason to prolong a vote. The question is then called and a vote is taken. The majority will prevails and at the same time there has been full and complete discussion. The Senate functions democratically in every respect. First, it allows the will of its majority to prevail, and, second, it allows its minority a complete opportunity to try to convince its majority. Mr. Chairman, I submit that this is truly a democratic arrangement.
Mr. Chairman, we must remember, however, that the filibuster problem is not a narrow one. In trying to defeat a filibuster every rule in the book is called into play. Filibusters are usually conducted by some of the ablest Members of this body who know their parliamentary rules very well. Freshmen Members, like myself, find it very difficult to battle with these men on parliamentary questions.
But there is one factor that makes it especially difficult for us to beat the filibuster problem. And I might add that this factor is one of the most undemocratic discriminations against new Members which the Senate countenances. As we all know, the rules of the Senate are no models of clarity. They must be explained by precedents. In all fairness it should be said that that is true of practically all sets of parliamentary rule. It is a little known fact, but it is nevertheless true that the precedents of the United States Senate have never been published. Thus, when a difficult parliamentary question comes up, à Member turns to the Chair for a ruling, the Chair turns to the Parliamentarian and the Parliamentarian pulls out of his pocket a slip of paper with the appropriate precedent.
(Discussion off the record.)
I now take up in my prepared paper another resolution which I had understood was being considered by this committee, on the matter of publishing precedents of the Senate, but which I now understand is not the case.
Senator WHERRY. Just where does your resolution differ from Senator Pepper's ?
Senator TAYLOR. Well, the 3-hour provision seems to be different.
Senator WHERRY. Yes; that would be different from his 1-hour provision. You make your motion any time you want to, just as Senator Knowland does, after you, in your opinion, feel that there has been full debate, and then instead of debating it 1 hour you debate it for 3 hours.
Senator TAYLOR. Yes.
Senator KNOWLAND. Might I inquire at this point, to get it clear in my own mind-as I understand your amendment, Senator, you provide a cumulative arrangement so that after the cloture petition is filed by 16 Members, as is the present requirement, and the cloture has come up for a vote, and has been adopted by the Senate, that thereafter each Senator, instead of, as under the present arrangement, having 1 hour, will have 3 hours, but that in addition to that, if Senator Taylor doesn't desire to use his 3 hours, he may pass those 3 hours on to Senator Morse, say, which would give Senator Morse 6 hours; or theoretically, if each Senator used all his time or passed it on to someone else there would be 288 hours available, which means that if the Senate worked an 8-hour day--and the Senate very seldom meets in session for 8 hours, it is usually 5 or 6 hours-assuming they meet 8 hours a day that would carry on the discussion for 36 days before the last of the time would be absorbed ?
Seantor HOLLAND. That is assuming, though, that all 96 of the Senators joined in the filibuster.
Senator KNOWLAND. Except that it seems to me that a person who wasn't willing to engage in the filibuster might, as a matter of senatorial courtesy, be willing to surrender his 3 hours to some other Member of the Senate. So to that extent it might tend to encourage filibustering that might last for 36 days.
Senator WHERRY. Even taking 16 Senators and letting them yield, there are 3 days right there. So you couldn't break the filibuster even with a minority group.
Senator HOLLAND. That is 48 hours, which is only 2 days of continuous session.
Senator WHERRY. If you go to 96 Senators, there would be 288 hours.
Senator HOLLAND. That is a much milder requirement than the 10-day limitation that is in one of the other resolutions.
Senator WIERRY. That is right, but on the other hand, taking the present rule today, where you have it limited to 1 hour, this thing of yielding is the thing I am going to ask you about. Say Senator Morse is debating a question and he takes 3 hours; then he wants 3 hours more. Somebody who might not debate on the question will be glad to yield him those 3 hours. You can work up there with 15 or 16 or 20 people, and if you are going to invoke this rule you are going to invoke it at a critical time. It seems to me that
defeat your own purpose by extending the right to 3 hours.
Senator TAYLOR. Well, we want to be very generous. At present there is no way of breaking a filibuster, and you would know for certain that it would be broken eventually by this provision.
Senator WHERRY. You don't break a filibuster by the debate on cloture. If you get to the place where you file your cloture petition,
, and each Senator gets an hour, you break it before then. I don't know of a cloture petition being filed where they continued to debate for hour after hour. They agree to limit debate if cloture doesn't carry, isn't that right?
Senator TAYLOR. That is right.
Senator WHERRY. The point I am making is that if you yield that time—say that 48 Senators would get together, and multiply that by 3, which is 144 hours of continuous debate before you would ever vote.
Senator TAYLOR. That is right, but we are considering the extreme
Senator WHERRY (interposing). Say at the end of a session you are right up against a stone wall and you are trying to get a vote.
Senator TAYLOR. Well, you couldn't break it at the end of a session.
Senator WHERRY. That is when you get your filibusters usually, isn't it?
Senator TAYLOR. Generally.
Senator WHERRY. I am just suggesting to you—I am not arguingthat it looks as if you haven't really solved anything, if speed is what you are after, if there is a group determined to break it.
Senator TAYLOR. If this was a debatable question, and it was a matter of bringing it to the attention of the country, and you hoped public opinion would intervene on your side
Senator WHERRY (interposing). You can pretty nearly do that under the present rules. What you are trying to do is put a safeguard around it so that you don't cut off debate, isn't that it, isn't that the idea ?
Senator TAYLOR. That is right, so that the minority can't be shut up before attention can be brought to their position.
Senator WHERRY. That is the big problem of all these rules, and I am just suggesting to you that the 3-hour rule seems to me-of course it is a safeguard and I have no doubt that the Senators who want safeguards would appreciate it-it seems to me as not one which would expedite things very much.
Senator TAYLOR. The final decision will be up to this committee and we have given you a big ceiling.
Senator WHERRY. One more thing, what about the majority vote? You and Senator Pepper propose the majority vote of those voting. What do you think of that as compared with Senator Knowland's proposal ?
Senator TAYLOR. We generally carry on our business with the majority of those present, providing a quorum is present. I think that is fair and I see no serious objection to Senator Knowland's provision.
Senator Ives. In one breath you are allowing debate to go on more or less indefinitely, at least six possible days, I would assume under this, continuous days, and in the next breath you permit 25 people, is that it, to decide the question of a vote, and that 25 is the majority of the quorum, is it not, that is the minimum quorum required. Wouldn't it be better, under a thing like this, to require a little higher vote, say 49, as Senator Knowland suggests, and then limit the debate?
Senator TAYLOR. Possibly.
Senator Ives. What you are trying to do is to get a vote and you want to stop this debate ?
Senator TAYLOR. Yes, sir.
Senator Ives. And unless you have a majority of the whole Senate with you it may extremely dubious as to whether what you are doing is the proper thing, and I think that is probably what Senator Knowland has in mind in suggesting the figure of 49. At the same time that you have a majority with you, don't you think that you should somewhat curtail debate, because a majority of the whole body is expressing itself very definitely that they don't want any more debate than absolutely necessary!
Senator WHERRY. That is exactly what I was trying to bring out with the Senator, and thought possibly that if I would suggest it to him he would realize it. I don't know how much thought you have given to that, but it seems to me that you would defeat your own purpose that way. In other words, you are not going to file a cloture petition until you think that debate has been fully had upon the subject. Now if there is any doubt in your mind, like there was in this rule adopted in 1917, after it is invoked you still give each Senator an hour, that is a further check; but you come in and give them 3 hours and you give the right to yield.
Senator Taylor. This goes on for 10 days before you can invoke cloture.
Senator WHERRY. I understand that, that is what I am telling you. It seems to me that you don't cut off debate at all. This isn't saying whether we are going to be for it or against it, but coming back to Senator Ives' proposition, wouldn't you be better off by limiting your debate under the present rule and having a higher vote, not two-thirds but a majority vote, in order to finally cut the debate off, than to make it a majority of those present and voting but still give a safeguard of 3 hours to each Senator and give him the chance to yield?
Senator Taylor. Possibly so, but we felt that the 3 hours would sa feguard the rights of everybody and at the same time would eventually break the filibuster; we wanted to be as lenient as possible.
Senator WHERRY. My guess is that if you let that go on for 6 days you would have the filibuster broken before you were ever through the 6 days, if you were ever going to break it.