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brought new complications. It provides that the new Congress shall take office on January 3, but the new President doesn't take office until January 20. So you have a “lame duck” President for 2 weeks there, and unless the Houses of Congress organize, that situation may last indefinitely. In times of great division of opinion in the country such a thing would be very serious. It might not only affect this country but it might affect the world.
Let me tell you a humorous anecdote. In my travels in South America, in one country at one time I got to know some of the high officials of the government pretty well, and at a party one of the leading statesmen of South America said, "I wonder if I could ask you a question, Senator. It has bothered me a good deal. If you don't want to answer it, of course you don't have to, and you can tell me so frankly.” I said, "What is your question?' I would like to know what is on your mind.” “Well," he said, “it is about President Roosevelt's death." I said, “What about it?” very curious. “Well,” he said, “tell me now, why was it when President Roosevelt died that the Republicans didn't seize the Government ?"
Now that may seem very humorous to us, and I answered with a quip. I said, "You know the Republicans are not very bright and I don't think the idea ever occurred to them.” [Laughter.]
The CHAIRMAN. You didn't mean that.
Senator GREEN. Now, that isn't so funny. If you think that over it isn't impossible that in such a situation as the death of a President, with party feeling running very high and a controversy as to the constitutional provisions, that such a situation could arise in the House of Representatives and in the Senate that there wouldn't be any President.
The CHAIRMAN. How could that be if there was a Vice President?
Senator GREEN. I am assuming a combination of circumstances; I am assuming that the President and Vice President died.
The CHAIRMAN. That wasn't in the equation about which you had your colloquy with the high official of another government.
Senator GREEN. Oh, no-but that just suggested it to me, as remote as it was. I thought it was a most ridiculous idea and it showed the difference between their conception of government and our conception of government. But in thinking it over I thought a similar condition might arise where there might not be any President, and a party might seize the Government, with one party in control of the Government and another party claiming the right to that control.
The CHAIRMAN. Give us an illustration of how you think that might come about. That is a very striking statement. Would you give us an illustration of how you think that might develop ?
Senator GREEN. Well, suppose the President died and the Vice President became President. Then there is no Vice President. Suppose the Cabinet is wiped out by a bomb; as I suggest, it is a limited succession, a limited number of men. Then some people claim that there is provision in the Constitution whereby a new President can be selected by the House of Representatives, or that the House of Representatives can make provision for the election of the President. Now suppose there is controversy there and neither happens—there is no President.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you have any suggestion as to changing the law so that that would be taken care of
Senator GREEN. I am not making any suggestions as to what I think about any of these questions. There are many of them which are controversial. My point is that they all ought to be considered very carefully because they affect not only this country but the whole world.
Suppose there should be a controversy such as there was at the time of President Hayes, and it wasn't possible to settle it by peaceful means; and suppose there should be two parties, each claiming to have control of the Government—before those questions were settled constitutionally by the Supreme Court the feeling might run so high that it might result in a civil war, North against South, or East against West, or between classes in the country; and if that were to happen, since we are the greatest Nation in the world, other foreign nations might join in the fray and take sides on one side or another, thinking that there was a conflict of ideologies at the time—and it might become a world catastrophe.
It is a remote possibility and these situations haven't arisen in the whole history of our country, but they have come very near to arising, I mean situations which might arise we have been face to face with a number of times. And it seems to me that these all ought to be carefully considered, and all considered together.
So that was the occasion of this concurrent resolution. It was introduced in the last session, as I said, referred to the Committee on Privileges and Elections, reported out by it favorably, passed by the Senate and sent to the House of Representatives.
I was rather amused at a local paper, in an editorial not long ago, taking me to task by name as chairman of that committee—that was before the reorganization at the beginning of the year—for doing nothing in the matter, when this very bill had been referred to my committee, had been reported favorably, introduced in January, the first day of the session, reported favorably and sent to the House of Representatives by early March, and allowed to lie there dormant ever since. But nevertheless I was accused in this editorial of being responsible for this delay in a very important matter, and they hoped that the crisis wouldn't arise where it would have been needed because that would be heavy on my conscience.
Senator HAYDEN. You were successful in obtaining a favorable report upon the measure ?
Senator GREEN. Yes.
Senator HAYDEN. And it was placed upon the Senate Calendar and passed by the Senate at the last session of Congress?
Senator GREEN. That is right.
Senator GREEN. It went to the House and was referred to the Committee on Rules over there.
The CHAIRMAN. And there it died?
Senator LODGE. Your reason for having a joint congressional committee instead of the regular standing committee, is what?
Senator GREEN. I don't approve of joint committees except in rare instances, but it seems to me this is one of those instances. We don't
want to start out with a conflict as to whether the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate shall be next in line.
Senator LODGE. Do you think that is our choice, either one of those two?
Senator GREEN. No, but that is one of the choices and one of the questions, and they both have been proposed in the line of succession for the Presidency, and it seems to me that it is very unfortunate not to try and adjust the different points of view if that is the solution, by a joint committee rather than by a committee of the Senate and then one of the House.
Senator LODGE. I understand what you mean about this little sensitive point here as between the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, but how would you get away from that by having a joint congressional committee instead of having it handled by the regular standing committees?
Senator GREEN. Well, it is easier to adjust those matters in committee room than it is on the floor of the Senate and on the floor of the House.
Senator LODGE. You could adjust it in this committee room here without having a joint committee.
Senator GREEN. Oh no, because they will say that we are all Senators and we would take the view that it ought to be the President of the Senate, and the House would take the view that it ought to be the Speaker of the House.
Senator HOLLAND. Furthermore, there are several of these questions which involve constitutional amendment which go to the Judiciary Committee. We have one on the calendar today which has emerged from the Judiciary Committee and hasn't been before this committee at all.
The CHAIRMAN. Those are matters involving constitutional questions.
Senator HOLLAND. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. But the Reorganization Act specifically assigns the authority to this committee to determine the succession to the Presidency.
Senator HOLLAND. The statutory succession, of course.
Senator GREEN. I have tried to give you the reasons why we want a joint resolution. Now, to take up the resolution itself, it provides for a joint congressional committee to be composed of five Members of the Senate to be appointed by the President of the Senate, and five Members of the House of Representatives to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The committee is to select its chairman from among its members. A vacancy in the committee is to be filled as provided for in the original appointment, but a vacancy would not interfere with the work of the committee pro. ceedings.
That committee is given the duty to make a full and complete study and investigation of all matters connected with the succession to the Presidency, and the election of the President and Vice President from the time of the nomination of the President and Vice President, through the time of their election and the time of their inauguration until the termination of their respective term of office, with the purpose of making the law.certain as to the Presidential election and succession.
These matters shall include, but shall not be confined to, the following—and these are suggested because they are matters to which we want particular answers:
(1) Whether or not the President and Vice President should be elected by the electoral college, as at present; and if so, whether or not the members should be legally bound to vote in accordance with their instructions.
A question may come up whether, at this stage in our history, if a member of the Electoral College should vote contrary to the instructions he is under, whether that would be counted as cast, or whether he would be bound in equity, if not in law, to cast it otherwise.
Senator Lodge. You don't go into the question of the popular election of the President, do you?
Senator GREEN. No.
Senator GREEN. We don't exclude it. These are really questions which it seemed to us ought to be decided. That could be decided separately or it might be added to these.
(2) Whether or not provision should be made for the case where before the election of Presidential elector's, or after such time but before the election of President and Vice President, a candidate for the Presidency or the Vice Presidency dies, declines to run, or is found ineligible to take office if elected.
(3) Whether or not provision should be made for the case of the death of any of the individuals from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
(4) Whether or not provision should be made for the case where, after election, the President-elect or Vice President-elect, or both, die, decline to serve, or fail to qualify.
(5) How it shall be determined whether the President, or individual acting as President, is unable to execute the powers and duties of the office, and how the duration of such inability shall be determined.
That has arisen various times in our history. When Garfield was at the point of death for months, and when Wilson was incapacitated in the White House are two illustrations.
(6) Whether or not provision should be made for an individual to execute the office of President in case of removal, death, resignation, or inability, both of the President and Vice President, including provision for selecting an individual to execute such office in cases where by reason of removal, death, resignation, or inability there is no individual upon whom the powers and duties of such office would otherwise automatically devolve.
Senator Lodge. Senator, do you object to questions while you are going along?
Senator GREEN. Certainly not.
Senator LODGE. This covers both matters of statute and matters of constitutional amendment, does it not?
Senator GREEN. That is right. Senator LODGE. Of course you make it clear that the list of topics which you mention are not the only things that can be looked into but that they are the things that are, in your opinion, particularly important. You do not mention the proposal to have two Vice Presidents.
Senator GREEN. No.
Senator GREEN. No; I put all of these in the form of questions. I am not taking sides. I have very definite ideas on a good many of
these things as a result of my studies of the questions, but I thought it was a good deal better to put these in the form of questions.
Senator LODGE. Would you mind telling me what you think of the proposal to have two Vice Presidents?
Senator GREEN. I would prefer not to express any opinion at the present. Senator LODGE. I thought that is what you would say,
don't object to my asking?
Senator GREEN. No; if you don't object to my not answering.
Senator LODGE. It would make it more interesting if you would answer, but I can see how
you feel. Senator GREEN. Now the next is very important, and I think very little attention has been given to it by writers on the subject.
(7) Whether there are, or should be, any differences between the status, powers, duties, and privileges of an elected President and any other individual executing the office of President.
There are ambiguities in the Constitution. I don't know in certain situations whether a President is simply a President, or only an acting President, executing the duties of the office, and the answers to those affect the question of the Speaker of the House or the President pro tempore of the Senate becoming President.
Senator HOLLAND. In other words, whether they should have a dual capacity or whether they should cease to be one and become the other with full capacity?
Senator GREEN. Yes, and if they act in a dual capacity, aren't they inconsistent? Can he represent the executive and the legislative branches of the Government at the same time?
The CHAIRMAN. Has there ever been any legislation proposed, to your knowledge, or passed, that would consider that they should have a dual capacity? Hasn't all the legislation that has been passed, up to this date, defined their activity as a sole activity of being acting President?
Senator GREEN. Well, that is open also to dual constructions. I don't think the point was in mind when the legislation was passed. I think it has been assumed that the Speaker of the House should become President, if he were elected, and thereby cease to be Speaker of the House.
The CHAIRMAN. In all the reading I have been able to do in the time I have been able to give to it, I have gotten the general impression—that is the reason for my question of you, who I believe has considered it at great length—I find that every bit of legislation re. quired the President pro tempore or the Speaker of the House to resign and become the acting President. So it excluded entirely the possibility of acting in a dual capacity.
Senator GREEN. I don't think they all do; some do and some don't. But even then another difficulty arises. Suppose the vacancy were to occur before the time of the reorganization of the House. Sometimes the House would be evenly divided and there would be no head of the House.
The CHAIRMAN. There would be, then, a President pro tempore.
Senator GREEN. There are other times, when a session is adjourned and before the new Congress convenes, when there is no Speaker of the House.