tv Reel America A Day in Congress - 1949 CSPAN March 15, 2021 7:42pm-8:02pm EDT
every two years in early january congress opens with many senators and representatives new to capitol hill. up next on real america. the 1949 educational foam explaining the workings of capitol hill during the 80th congress. the narrator trust the progress of the agricultural act of 1948 through can mid ease, house, and senate, and the signature of president harry truman making the bill a law. 8 woman in 1949. washington the center of the democratic world of today and at the washington, rallying 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 mall. the white house, home of the president and of the executive
school begins at 6:15 for the 70-page boys that play an important part in the role of congress. if you are one of the page boys you would see more of the intimate details of lawmaking that anyone other than a congressman himself. but first you would have to go to classes. you would study many subjects. history, government, mathematics, literature, yes, and anatomy. the page boys called this a dummy oscar. your classmates would be boys
of high school age. carefully selected from all over the united states for their ability, courtesy, and personality. you will 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 having to work late into the night, you would study your own country and many other lance. but over year studies would brewed the spirit and power of the institution of which you are a part. where history making events or eat daily routine. the congress of the united states. the day starts early at the capitol. the president at the senate. the vice president of the united states is at his desk to study the program of 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 and to the east of the capital. an area much like the -- 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 i have two powers and the majority of members of each must approve the laws, the senate has special powers in the ratification of treaties and appointments. it acts as a court in the case of impeachment. there are 96 cent guards. two for each state. the house of representatives has 435 members elected by the people of the states, in accordance to its population. the house appropriations bill and brings in impeachments, the capital house itself symbolizes the making of our national laws but actually only a part of the
work takes place under its home. here are the office buildings were congressman have their offices. they do much of their work. there are also living rooms for committees both large and small. this is the library of congress, which holds one of the world's largest collections of reference books at the service of our lawmakers. -- we are senators have sweets and offices for themselves, and for their assistance. let us go in and walk down one of the corridors. senator margaret's mitt of maine, senator green of rhode island, senator taft of ohio, there is the senator himself. his work applies that of all lawmakers. half of his average day is spent reading and answering letters from his constituents. this is as it should be, for his constituents are his neighbors, and the voters whose
support made him a senator. this pile of 10,000 letters was received in two weeks. -- many letters must have individual answers. those called in person must be received, they must be answered. national lawmakers must be sensitive to the opinions and criticisms of the public, as expressed over the radio. >> in newspapers weather in the news or editorial columns. and the video or television gives criticism to -- in massachusetts and his colleagues. this freedom of the press is the very 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 must stand for reelection. seek the support of their voters for reelection to return to congress. a support that's given or withheld at three public elections. every voter cast a secret ballot according to its own countries. the vote held in every congressional district across the nation. here enshrined in the library of congress as one of the most important documents in the history of freedom. it controls the elections and the law making processes that get -- them, the constitution of the united states. so the laws that are made our constitutional, -- to meet this need it was established in 1946 effect gathering agency that operates on a assembly line scale. the 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 this service. a congressman wants more facts about a recent government report so that he can draft the bill more intelligently, and participate more effectively in the deliberations of the foreign affairs committee. ch this particular request for information is one of thousands, some can be answered with a word, and some require weeks of research and book length reports. regular or special congressional committees like the armed services committee often start fireworks, the committee works -- before they are debated upon, this is another way in which congress decides to get all the facts before deciding on a bill. hearings can get very tense.
sometimes they're used to air political views which are embarrassing to one of the parties in congress. congressional committees have the power under law to compel the tendons of witnesses and to have them tested by under oath. the chairman and members of the committee may question witnesses. open hearings often attract large attendants and of course the newspaper reporters are there. here are some high ranking naval officers who have been called to testify, they are taking over the statements that they're going to make as a committee, other meetings are private and quite informal, often involving members of the two opposing political parties. -- so that lawmaking will not be blocked. >> back in the capital under the dome is statutory hall in the center of all of this lawmaking activity. it's still relics of the past to remind congressman of the
precious heritage that they hold in trust. the page boys have been at work since school was over a nine, 30 delivering copies of bills, and of the congressional record. they are excited today because they sense the members of congress, they expect a vote on the farm bill which has been debated for weeks. senator, lucas the senate majority leader has called the group of senators who have been in a battle to pass the administrations bill to see what they can do to get a favorable vote. -- of new mexico, author of the bell, and -- influential senate leader. they must decide the final tactics to be employed on the floor of the senate. the bill is teetering in that balance. it could be defeated. justice they have made their decision a pageboy enters and they leave from a private door
through the chamber where the debate is already in full swing. senator weaken, senator moore's, senator -- senator -- , the operation whip refuses. as the debate on the foreign bill is underway there's activity on the house side. minority leader -- has learned that the majority party is making a deft spirit effort to pass its bill in the senate. the congressman eat legislation for the farmers but he is very much opposed to the methods identified in the bill. he is determined to fight a counter move or make a compromise. -- congressman errands. a party whip like a quarterback twice the actual maneuvers on the floor. they decide that they need the advice of the congressman, former house leader for the republican party, he's invited
to join the conference. they must think this out carefully. they must bring to bear all of the strategy that they've learned through many years of experience to stop the bill in the house. the constant struggle between the minority and the majority, the two parties in congress, the republicans and democrats as the very essence of democratic law making. it ensures that every bill that is made into a law shall be subjected to the most vigorous examination and debate. meanwhile lobbyists weight in the corner -- legislative processes. the house agricultural committee has learned that the senators passed its version of the foreign bill just as senator lucas and his colleagues have planned this morning. to meet this situation, has called a special meeting, it's clear that the bill was passed
but the bill would never be approved by the house. legislation would be abrupt since most -- both houses of congress must approve. a compromise might break the deadlock. finally a agreement is reached and the chairman is instructed to submit 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 a compromise the chairman stops by at the office of the speaker of the house to get his blessing. the congressman in mississippi happens to be with him. the speaker of the house is always a powerful legislative leader. the speaker says that a compromise is a great idea. a warning bell calls the speaker to the house. the chairman takes a little electric railway train to the building. senators and congressman often
have to move about a great deal from one meeting to another. this railway saved a great deal of time and effort. the pageboy's seem to like it as well. the chairman arrived at the giant station with a compromised plan. other members of his committee are already there. he tells the senators that it is his opinion that the house will never pass the foreign bill in the form that it has been approved by the senate. members of the joint committee discuss the compromise which they hope will make the passage of a good bill possible. congressman cooley has presented his case and it won approval. >> just in time as well. it's three rings demand the attendance of the floor of every legislator for a showdown vote on a important bill. from all over capitol hill they respond immediately.
the cafeteria. from their offices. from everywhere that they come. the final debate is reaching its climax. the gentleman from kansas. the gentleman from arkansas. the gentleman from alabama. from minnesota. the gentleman from wisconsin. the pages are as interested it is in the voting as a congressman. the vote is gone the bill has passed. it's an important bill, and the day has been intense. the public is interested. reporters rushed to the phone booths to rush the news to their papers. the public is also a part of
the democratic process of making a law. speaker rayburn signs the bill, which is already been signed by the president of the senate. both houses have now approved. it is not yet a law, it has to go to the white house for a signature from the president of the united states. the house korean, drive to the white house, he passes the guard at the gates. along the drive to the west wing, which is the center of executive power, and where the president transcends his business. the president signs the bill, and it becomes a law of the land. except however sometimes the president refused to sign a bill that he does not approve. this is called a veto, and the president usually prepares a veto message which repairs his and explains his reasons. then it sent back to congress, this ends the matter, unless
congress can pass the bill, over the veto, by two thirds vote of both houses. then it becomes a law, without the presidents signature. the president can also appear in person, before a joint session of congress. or to propose new legislation. congress is then free to accept or reject the president suggestions. and then it starts all over again. the great lawmaking assembly line goes on. passing bills, creating laws as diversified as the nation itself. construction, labor, national defense, government departments, regulation of transportation, foreign trade, taxes, bills bills bills. and every act is informed by the written constitution of the united states, which fixes the rules. rules made by the people themselves, acting through