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measure; third, if the presiding officer is willing to recognize the Senator who wishes to present the motion thus signed to the Senate; and fourth, if two-thirds of the members voting on the following calendar day but one decide affirmatively that the measure shall be the unfinished business of the Senate to the exclusion of all other business. In other words, there are four steps that have got to be carried through today before a cloture can become effective.
Now it does not permit debate to be closed on any matter that is not a pending measure. Thus, for instance, a year ago this month the Senate debated endlessly for several weeks a motion to amend the Chaplain's prayer of the preceding day. It was ruled that this motion was not a pending measure and that, therefore, a cloture petition was not in order. That was avoided by taking up the Chaplain's prayer
Senator WHERRY (interposing). The parliamentary situation was straightened out by making the appeal; wasn't that right?
Senator SALTONSTALL. It was straightened out because everybody agreed that it should be.
Senator WHERRY. I know, but what I mean is that actually the debate centered on the appeal taken, didn't it
Senator SALTONSTALL. Well, that was the second point.
Senator SALTONSTALL. No sir, the debate was on the Chaplain's prayer, and Senator Hoey finally got up and said that he believed the subject had been fully discussed.
Senator WHERRY. I remember that.
Senator SALTONSTALL. The filibuster was only ended because of a compromise and an agreement that the measure should not be voted upon. My resolution, No. 25, attempts to overcome this technical method of avoiding a cloture petition by inserting the words: nowithstanding the provisions of rule III or rule VI or any other rule of the Senateand inserting in place of the words “pending measure” the wordsmeasure, motion, or other matter pending before the Senate, or the unfinished busines.
Rule III on page 6 of the Standing Rules makes the reading of the Journal the first business of the day and a motion to amend or correct it a privileged question which must be proceeded with until it is disposed of. Rule VI makes any question or motion arising out of the presentation of credentials of a Senator a privileged question. Thus, the debate on the seating of a Senator recently was held not to be subject to a cloture petition. That was not a formal ruling. One intent of Senate Resolution 25 is to close these two openings of blocking by parliamentary maneuver the filing of a cloture petition. The words For any other rule” which I have added is a catch-all to try to prevent any
other similar cases from arising. By broadening the language of "pending measure” to include "motion, or other matter pending before the Senate or the unfinished business," I have attempted to close another method of avoiding the cloture petition. If this change in the rules becomes effective, then no privileged question under rule III or rule VI, and no motion or
unfinished business or other matter can prevent a cloture petition from being out of order when filed. I has been argued that the presiding officer may refuse to recognize a Senator who arises to present a petition of cloture. I have tried to cover this point as well as others that may be brought up by the words in line 10 on page 2, “or any other rule of the Senate.” Suppose, for instance, a Senator concludes his speech and two or more Senators arise. I believe that the presiding officer must recognize, under this amendment to the rules, a member who arises to a point of order and informs the presiding officer that he has such a cloture motion to present. I do not believe that a presiding officer could interrupt a Senator in the middle of a speech if a member arises to present such a petition because the Senator making the speech was not violating any rule of debate. Perhaps Senator Knowland's and Senator Morse's resolutions make this even clearer by the wording they suggest.
I hope that your subcommittee gives this matter their very careful attention. While I trust that these amendments that I have suggested have merit, I do not consider that they are conclusive in any way. All I want is to see the rules amended in such ways as will make cloture in the Senate effective. Undoubtedly some of the distinguished Members who are present will have suggestions that, added to those I have made, will make it possible with greater certainty to accomplish what I desire-free, full, and adequate debate, without preventing final action on the subject under discussion through technical application of the rules.
The other change that I have suggested in Senate Resolution 25 is to have the Senate decide by a majority vote the question as to whether to close debate. It now is decided by a two-thirds vote. In this country we believe in the decisions of the majority. No matter how small that majority may be, it is a fundamental principle of democracy that the rule of the majority shall govern. If a two-thirds rule is continued and debate can only be closed when two-thirds are in favor of closing it, then a minority of one-third can prevent and void the will of the majority. I therefore believe that the great principle of freedom of debate, the great reputation of the United States Senate as an open forum, is not in any way diminished, but on the other hand is rather encouraged, by the fact that a majority can say under proper restrictions and limitations that it believes the time has come to close debate and decide the issue by a vote. I sincerely believe that the great majority of the people of our country want our Senate to continue as an open forum, but want it to be able, under its own rules, to act when action is required by at least a majority of the Members present.
I hope that your committee gives favorable consideration to Senate Resolution 25 and will report a rule which will accomplish these objectives.
Now, sir, you brought up the question of the majority vote. There are two points to this thing, as I see it. One is to fill the gaps that now make it possible to avoid a cloture by perfectly proper parliamentary technicalities or maneuvers, if you want to call it that; and second, the question of whether it is a two-thirds or a majority vote that
Now the latter point I do not think is as of as much importance at the moment, or is more open to debate, than the other question. In other words, I think most parlimentary rules provide for closing debate by a two-thirds vote rather than a majority. I think some require a majority. I don't know which ones require majorities. I. therefore think that that is somewhat more debatable, and in doubt, than the former.
Now the question of closing gaps is, I think, a most reasonable procedure and amendment to make to our rules because it simply perfects rules where they have been found to be imperfect by parliamentary discussion and parliamentary maneuver.
Senator WHERRY. There is a difference, though, between the technical, mechanical procedure, and our fundamental traditions of determining by a final vote. By that I mean this: As I gathered from your remarks, you say that in keeping with the democratic processes the majority should rule?
Senator SALTONSTALL. That is right.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Well, we have certain rules that require a two-thirds vote, and I say that most parliamentary bodies that I have heard of, most parliamentary rules, would require two-thirds to close debate. I
say that that is a more open question, a more debatable question, than the other two suggestions which are to close the gaps in the present rules.
Senator WHERRY. I understand that, but what I am trying to get at is how you feel about a two-thirds vote on the ratication of a treaty. The theory now of the cloture rule, as I understand it,I have talked to some of these men that have been in this before and they feel that the Senate should be so unanimous in its opinion on a debatable issue that it doesn't take a majority, that the old two-thirds rule should prevail, it should be that unanimous. That is the one reason protect the treaty rights, because we feel that the Senate should be so harmonious that there would be no difficulty in getting a two-thirds vote. Take the expulsion of a Member, we take a two-thirds vote on that. Is there going to be any tendency here to solve the mechanical procedure, of a break-down in contradiction of those old rules on the ratification of a treaty or the expulsion of a Member? What do you think about that?
Senator SALTONSTALL. I shouldn't think that there would be any. Senator WHERRY. If we were discussing a treaty and came to a place where you thought it had been fully debated, you would use this new procedure to terminate the issue and start voting?
Senator SALTONSTALL. What we want is to have full, open, free discussion, with an opportunity for closing that discussion and reaching a decision, or action. The world moves fast and we have got to move with it. We aren't fulfilling our duty if we don't act.
Senator WHERRY. Right. Do you have any questions, Senator Holland?
Senator HOLLAND. No.
Senator WHERRY. I believe, then, unless you have something else to give us, that we will proceed with the next witness.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Thank you, sir.
Senator WHERRY. I also want to notify you that we expect to continue these hearings until next Tuesday at the same time, and if you are interested you had better come back because I am satisfied that there will be some here who will oppose these resolutions.
(Off the record discussion.)
Senator WHERRY. All right, Senator Pepper, will you proceed with a discussion of your resolution, Senate Resolution 39?
STATEMENT OF HON. CLAUDE PEPPER, UNITED STATES SENATOR
FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Senator PEPPER. Mr. Chairman, I think that all of us will agree that democracy is on trial in the world today and that the people who believe in democracy and oppose antidemocratic legislation or aspects of government owe it to themselves and to their philosophy, in our case to our country as well, to try to do everything they can to make democracy effectively work, and I feel that the privilege and the power of filibuster which prevails in the Senate today is a threat to the institution of democracy.
There are numerous instances of where legislation has been prevented from being taken up even by the United States Senate, when the great majority of that body favored such legislation, by the intervention of the filibuster. There are other instances where legislation has been defeated by the filibuster,
That is contrary to the spirit of our Republic and in my opinion a hazard to the institution of representative government itself. It may be that the instances where legislation has been prevented from being taken up, or defeated, on account of the filibuster might not have been world-shaking significance, yet if the privilege on the part of a minority of the Senate, and it may be just a few in the Senate, continues to exist, we never know when a measure as vital as the issue of peace or war, or the prosperity or impoverishment of this country, may be the decision made by such obstructive tactics.
So it seems to me that we owe it—especially at a time when we have been considering the making of our Congress more efficient and more representative—we owe it to our country and to ourselves to remove this dictatorial power which a minority of the Senate may exercise over the majority through the instrumentality of the filibuster.
Now some years ago I introduced a proposed amendment to the Senate rules which contemplated making it easier for the Senate to take up a measure and dispose of it according to the will of the majority of the Senate.
I want to lay down two primary predicates which I think should prevail in the Senate rules. I haven't those proposals embodied in my resolution, which I will come to in a moment, but they could easily be incorporated into the proper form by the parliamentarian of the Senate.
I want to lay down the first principle, which is that a majority of the Senate should have the right to determine what shall be the pending business of the Senate, and that a motion to make any subject the pending business shall be a privileged motion, and that debate upon such a motion should be limited to a fixed time.
Senator Ives. You mean a majority of the elected members ?
Senator PEPPER. No; of the Senators voting, assuming a quorum to be present. I think that is the democratic way of conducting the Senate's business. So a majority of the Senators voting, assuming a quorum to be present, should have the privilege and the power of determining at least what is going to be the pending business before that body. And I think a motion to make any matter the pending business should be a privileged motion at any time, and that debate upon such a motion should be limited by the Senate rules, whatever might be considered to be a fair time, I don't know, I suggest an hour.
Somebody might say that we should take up a bill on agriculture. Some other Senator might get up and say, “I think we should dispose of this bill first," and state some reason for it. Well, the majority of the Senate could easily determine what measure it chose to make the pending business.
But if we had a rule of that character then we wouldn't have the unseemly spectacle of Senators filibustering a motion to take up a bill so that, although the overwhelming will of the Senate was to make the pending business a certain measure, it is even prevented from determining what its own calendar shall be under the privilege of filibuster which is now existing in the Senate. Of course I am using the term "filibuster” without intending to suggest opprobrium. Probably I should say the privilege of unlimited debate.
Senator WHERRY. Going back to the OPA debacle, we continuously asked for unanimous consent to set aside the pending business for the purpose of doing certain things that had to be done, because we were getting close to the dead line for adjournment. And of course that is when your filibuster becomes effective.
Senator PEPPER. That is right.
Senator WHERRY. Your idea is that any one has the right during such a period to move that any particular legislation be made the pending business?
Senator PEPPER. That is right.
Senator WHERRY. And the discussion to be limited probably to 1 hour?
Senator PEPPER. Something like that, 1 hour, 2 hours, or half a day, anything reasonable, so as to give other people interested and informed a fair opportunity.
Senator WHERRY. Say you wanted a filibuster and had about 15 or 20 fellows wanting to do it, that would be a pretty good way to take up some time.
Senator PEPPER. It is an extremely difficult thing to draw an airtight rule that will prevent abuse, and I was going to approach it first this way, and then I am coming to the other measure.