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tv   Reel America A Day in Congress - 1949  CSPAN  January 24, 2021 4:20pm-4:39pm EST

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and although appointment is for life, any justice can be removed by congressional impeachment, just as a president can be removed from office. the vision of our founding fathers has seen beyond the years, the three branches of our federal government has -- have worked together with mutual respect and individual integrity for almost 200 years. we today are the posterity to whom the founding fathers referred to in the constitution. we are the inheritors of the more perfect union that has been passed on and handed down in peace and in war, and good times and in bad, decade to decade, generation to generation. to us, and to each new generation to come is the
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continuing challenge to preserve for ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of liberty. ♪ >> washington, rallying the
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center of the democratic world today. and at the heart of washington is the government of the united states of america, spreading through the city and along the -- the white house, home of the president and the executive power of government. the supreme court, which interprets the law. the capital, the home of congress which makes the laws of the united states. and the shadow of this dome is decided that has decided much of the destiny of our time.
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the first thing that happens in the morning on capitol hill is school in the attic of the library of congress across the square from the capital. school that begins at 6:15 for the 70 page boys who play an important part in the work of congress. if you are one of these page boys, you would see more of the intimate details of lawmaking than anyone other than a congressman gulf -- himself.
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but first he would have to go to classes. you will study many subjects, history, government, mathematics, literature, and anatomy. the page boys call it the dummy oscar. the classmates would be boys of high school age carefully selected from all over the united states for their ability, courtesy, and personality. you would receive one of the best educations available in american schools and all of this in spite of the fact that every day you would have a big job to do, often happening -- having to work late into the night. you would study your own country and many other lands, but over your studies would bruise the spirit and power of the institution of which you are a part. where history making events are a daily routine, the congress of the united states.
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the day starts early at the capitol, the president of the senate, the vice president of the united states is at his desk to study the program for the day and to lay out the schedule for the senate so that everything will move smoothly. in recent years, the responsibilities of the vice president have become much heavier. the congressional machinery is beginning to move all around the square to the east of the capital, an area much like a great college quadrangle which might be called capital square. here is a plan of the square, the capital itself has two wings, one for the senate and one for the house of representatives. in general, the two chambers of congress have equal powers and the majority's of the members of each must approve before a law can be made. the senate has special powers and the ratification of treaties and presidential appointments and acts as a court in the case of impeachment. there are 96 senators, two from
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each state. the house of representatives have 435 members elected by the people of each state in accordance with proper relation -- op elation -- population. the capital bills -- building itself symbolizes the making of laws, but only a part of the work takes place under its dome. here are the housebuilding's were congressman have their offices and do much of their own work. they are also meeting rooms for committees both large and small. this is the largest -- library of congress which holds one of the largest collections of reference books at the service of our lawmakers. to the north is a senate office building where senators have sweet and offices for themselves and their assistance. let us go in and walked on one of the corridors. senator thomas of oklahoma, senator greene of rhode island, senator taft of ohio. here is the senator himself.
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his daily work typifies that of all lawmakers. half of his day is spent in reading and answering letters from his constituents. this is as it should be for these constituents are his neighbors and the borders -- voters whose support made him a senator. this pile of letters was received in two weeks. many constituents come to call in person to seek jobs, to ask favors, to make proposals. letters or people must be given personal attention, many letters must have individual answers and those who call in person must be received, their problems discussed and answered. national lawmakers must be sensitive to the constantly shunned -- shifting opinions and criticisms of the public as expressed over the radio, and -- >> it is the fervent occupation of the administration, a million here, a billion there. >> and newspapers, whether in
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the news or editorial columns, and if radio and television brings praise or criticism to the senator and his colleagues. magazines are another check, this freedom of the press is the cornerstone of democracy. but the most direct contact of all is talking to neighbors back home. every two years congressman and every six years, senators much -- must stand for reelection and seek support of the voters from their district to return them to congress, a support which is given through free public elections where every voter casts a secret ballot according to his own conscience. the elections held in every state and congressional district across the nation. enshrined in the library of congress is one of the most important documents in the history of freedom, it controls these elections and the lawmaking process which flow from them. the written constitution of the united states.
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so that the laws which are made may be constitutional and useful, lawmakers must constantly study, to meet this need there was established in 1946 a fact gathering agency that operates on an assembly line scale. the legislative reference service with 150 full-time employees to keep congress fully informed. here is a member of the house of representatives foreign affairs committee, seeking information about china from the director of the service. the congressman wants more facts about a recent government report so that he can draft a bill more intelligently and participate more effectively in the deliberations of the foreign affairs committee. this particular request for information is but one of thousands received each month, some of them can be answered with a word and some of them require weeks of research and length reports -- book length reports.
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the armed -- many committees often start fireworks, the committee works over bills before they are debated or voted upon. it is another way in which congress seeks all the facts before it and ask on a bill. some hearings can be very tense and sometimes they are used to air political views which are embarrassing to one of the parties in congress. congressional committees have a power under law to propel the attendance of witnesses and to have them testify underwrote -- under both. the chairman may question witnesses, they often attract large attendance and of course the newspaper reporters are there. here are some high-ranking naval officers who had been called to testify, they are checking over the statements which they are going to make to the committee. other meetings are private and quite informal, often involving members of the two opposing political parties trying to straighten out some difference
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of opinion so that lawmaking will not be blocked. back in the capital, under the dome, is statuary hall in the center of all this lawmaking activity. it is filled with relics of the past to remind congressman of the precious heritage which they hold and trust. the pageboy boys have been at work since school was over at 9:30, running errands, carrying messages, delivering copies of bills and of the congressional record. they sense as do the members of congress, and approaching climax on a farm bill which has been baited for weeks. the senate majority leader has called a hurried conference of two senators who have been active in the battle to pass the farm bill to see what they can do to get a favorable vote. the senator of new mexico, author of the bill, and the
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senator of wyoming, influential senate leader. they must decide the final tactics to be employed on the floor of the senate. the bill is teetering in the balance, it could be defeated. just as they had made their decision, a pageboy enters to call them and they leave through a private door to the senate chamber where debate on the farm bill is in full swing. the senators join the debate. set -- the operation -- the opposition web refuses. as the debate is underway, there is also activity on the house side. the minority leader has learned that the majority party is making a desperate effort to pass it will through the senate -- bill through the senate. he is very much opposed to the methods proposed and the -- in the administration's bill. he is determined to block this bill in the house, not a counter
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move or force a compromise. a party with like a quarterback directs the actual maneuvers on the house floor, they decide they need the advice of another congressman, the former house leader of the republican party and he is invited to enjoy -- join the conference. they must plan this out carefully, they must ring all the strategy they have learned through many years of legislative experience to stop majority bill in the house. this constant struggle between the majority and minority, the two parties in congress the republicans and the democrats is the very essence of democratic lawmaking. it ensures that every bill made into a law shall be subjected to the most vigorous examination and debate. meanwhile, lobbyists in the farm group wait in the corridor to get a last-minute luck, lobbying is now a rel -- recognize part of lawmaking process.
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the agricultural committee has learned that the senate has passed its version of the farm bill just as the senators planned this morning. to meet this situation, the chairman of the house committee on agriculture has called a special meeting. it is apparent that the bill which was passed by the senate would never be approved by the house. if there were not some way out, legislation would be blocked since both houses of congress must approve. the house committee believes a compromise might break the deadlock. finally, an agreement is reached and the chairman is extracted to cement a compromise to a joint committee, representing both the house and the senate to be called in the senate office building. on his way over with the compromise, chairman coolidge stopped in at the office speaker of the house to get his blessing. it the congressman of mississippi happens to be with him, the speaker of the house is always a powerful legislative leader and is supportive in any action.
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the speaker says the compromise is a good idea. a warning bell calls the speaker to the house. the chairman takes a little electric railway train to the senate office building. senators and congressmen often have to move about a great deal from one meeting to another and this unusual little railway saves a great deal of time and effort. the page boys seem to like it too. the chairman arrives with a compromised plan, other members of the committee are already there. he tells the senators it is his opinion that the house will never pass the farm bill in the form it -- in which as been approved. the members of the committee discussed the compromise which they hope will make the passage of a good ill possible -- bill possible. the congressman has presented his case and has one approval -- won approval.
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just in time, for there is the in narrative corum bell, it demands of the attendance on the floor of every legislator for a showdown vote on an important bill. from all over capitol hill, they respond immediately from the cafeteria, from their offices, everywhere work is dropped, from everywhere they come. the final debate is reaching its climax. the gentleman from kansas, the gentleman from arkansas, the gentleman from alabama, the gentleman from minnesota, the gentleman from wisconsin, the pages are as interested in the voting as the congressman. the voters -- the vote is
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announced, the bill is passed, it has been an important bill. debate has been tense, the public is interested. reporters rushed to the phone booths to pass the news today her papers. this instant and full information to the public is also a part of the democratic processes of making law. the speaker signs the bill which has already been signed by the president of the senate. both houses have now approved, but it is not yet a law, it must go to the white house for signature by the president of the united states. jack watson, the house courier drives to the white house. he passes the guarded gates. along the drive to the west wing, which is the center of executive power and where the president transacts his business. the president signs the bill and it becomes a law of the land.
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however, sometimes the president refuses to sign a bill which he does not approve, this is called a veto and the president usually prepares a veto message which explains his reason. the vetoed ill and message are sent back to congress, and this ends the matter unless congress can pass the bill over the veto by a two thirds vote of both houses. and then it becomes a law without the president signature. the president can also appear in person before a joint session of congress to explain a veto, or to propose new legislation. congress is then free to accept or reject the president's suggestions and then it starts all over again. the great lawmaking assembly line goes on, passing bills, creating laws as diversified as the nation's life itself. construction, labor, defense,

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