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tv   Reel America A Day in Congress - 1949  CSPAN  May 23, 2021 7:40am-8:01am EDT

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a look back at our america worked in congress that included 8 woman in 1949. washington the center of the democratic world of today and at the heart of washington it 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
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spour of government. it is a pretty port that interprets the law, the home of congress that makes the laws of the united states and the shadow of this dome is decided much of the destiny of our time.
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[music] [music] . 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 that 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 common of a congressman himself, 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. class mates would be boys of
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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 inspite 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 lands. but all of your studies would body the spirit and power of the institution of which you are a part. history-making events area i daily routine. a congress of the united states. the day starts early at the capital. 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 voice
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president had become much heavier. congressional machinery is beginning to move all around the square to the east of the capitolment like a great college quadrangle that might be called capital square. the capital 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 of the members of each must approve before a law can be made. the senate has special powers in the ratification of treaties and presidential appointments. and acts as a court in case of impeachment, there are 96 senators, two from each state. the house of representatives has 435 members elected by the people of the states and according to its population. the house originates appropriation bills and brings
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impeachments. the capitol building only part of the work takes place. here are the house buildings where congress men have their offices and do much of their work. there are meeting rooms for committees, both large and small. this is the library of congress that holds one of the world's largest collections of reference books at the service of our lawmakers. to the north is a senate office building where senators have suites of offices for themselveses and for their assistants. let us go in and walk down one of the corridors. senator margaret smith of main, senator tomas of oklahoma, senator green of rhode island, senator taft of ohio. here is the senator himself. his daily work typifies of all senators. reading and answers letters from his constituents. this is as it should be are his neighbors and those that
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support made him a senator. this pile of 10,000 letters was received in two weeks. many constituent come to call in person to seek jobs, ask favors to make proposals. letters or people must get personal attention and those that call in person must receive, their problems discussed and answered. national lawmakers must be sensitive to the constantly shifting opinions and criticisms of the public. as expressed over the radio -- >> spending is the favorite occupation of the administration, a million here and a billion there. >> the newspapers or editorial columns. and in television bringing praise or criticism to the senator of massachusetts and his colleagues. magazines are another check. this freedom of the press is the cornerstone of democracy.
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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 the voters of their district to return them to congress. a support that is given or withheld at three public elections for every voter cast a secret ballot according to his own conscious. the elections held in every state and congressional district across the nation. here in skopbgs one of the post important documents of history of freedom. lawmaking processes that come with them of the written constitution in the united states. so the laws that are made may be constitutional and useful, lawmakers must constantly study to meet the need that was established in 1946, a fact- gathering agency that operates on an assembly line scale. the legislative reference
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service. with 150 full time employees to keep congress fully informed. here is a member of the house of representatives foreign affairs seeking information from china. the congressman wants more facts about a recent government report so he can draft a bill more intelligently and participate more effectively in the deliberations of the foreign affairs committee. this request for information is but one of,ands received each month. some of them can be answered with a word and some of them require weeks of research and book-length reports. regular or special congressional committees like the armed services committee start fireworks. the committee works over bills before they are debated or voted upon. it is another way in which congress seeks to get all of the facts before it acts on a bill. some committee hearings can be tense. sometimes they are used to air
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political views which are embarrassing to one of the parties in congress. they have the power under law to compet the attendance of witnesses and have them testify under oath. the chairman and members of the committee may question witnesses. open hearings on important questions attract large attendance. and, of course, the newspaper reporters are there. there are some high ranking naval officers that have 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 difference of opinion so that lawmaking will not be blocked. back in the capitol, under the dome is statutory hall in the center of all of the lawmaking activity. it is filled with relics of the
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past to remind congress men the precious heritage which they hold in trust. the page 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 were excited today as they sensed did the members of congress, an approach in climax, an expected approval of the farm bill that has been looked at for we'res ever the senator majority leader called a conference with two senators to see what they can do to get a favorable vote. senator anderson from new mexico, author of the bill and senator from wyoming, they must decide the final tactics to be deployed on the floor of the senate. the bill is in the balance. it could be defeated. just as they had made their decision a page boy enters to call them and they leave to a private door to the senate
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chamber where debate on the farm bill is in full swing. senator aiken, senator morris, senator romani joins the debate. the opposition whip refuses. while the debate is underway there is activity on the house side. minority leader joe martin learned the majority party is making a desperate effort to pass its bill through the senate. congressman martin favors legislation to aid the farmers but he is opposed to the methods proposed in the administration's bill. he is determined to block this bill in the house, plan a counter move or force a compromise. he has his secretary summon the republican rep for the house, congressman aarons, a quarterback directs the maneuvers on the floor. they decide they need the advice of congressman leader howard former republican leader
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of the party. he is invited to john the conference, they must think it out carefully. bear all of the strategy they have learned through many years of legislative experience to stop the majority bill in the house. that constant struggle between the majority and the minority, the two parties in congress, the republicans and the democrats, it is a very essence democratic lawmaking. it is assures that every bill that is made into a law should be subjected to the most vigorous examination and debate. meanwhile, lobbyists of the farm bill lobbying, it is now a recognized part of the legislative processes. the house agriculture committee learned the senate has passed its version of the farm bill just as the senators planned this sporpbing. to meet the situation the chairman of the house committee has called a special meeting. it is apparent that the bill
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passed by the senate would not be approved by the house. legislation would be blocked since both houses have to approve. the house committee believes a compromise might break the deadlock. finally an agreement is reached and the chairman is instructed to submit a compromise to the joint committee representing the house and senate to be called in the senate office building. on his way over with the compromise, chairman stops by the speaker of the house to get his blessing. congressman from mississippi happens to be with him. the speaker of the house is always a powerful legislative leader and his support is important if and action. the speaker says a compromise is a good idea. a warning bell calls the speaker to the house. the chairman takes the electric railway train to the senate office building. during any day they often have
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to move about a great deal from one meeting to the other and this unusual railway saves a great deal of time and effort. the page boys seem to like it, too. chairman arrives at the joint session with the 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 in which it was approved by the senate. the members of the joint committee discuss the compromise which they hope will make the passage of a good bill possible. the congressman presented his case and has won approval. [bell ringing] and just in time, too, for their is the imperative quorum bell. it demends the attendance on the floor of every legislature for the showdown report for every bill. all over capitol hill they
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respond immediately. from the cafeteria, offices, everywhere, work is dropped. from everywhere they come. the final debate is reaching its climax. [ banging ] 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 vote is announced, the bill is passed. it is an important bill, debate has been intense, the public is interested. reporters rush to the phone booths to spread the news to their papers. this instant and full information to the public is also a part of the democratic
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processes of making law. speaker rayburn signs the bill that has been signed by the president of the senate. both houses have now approved. 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 transfacts his business. the president signs the bill and it becomes a law of the land. however, sometimes the president refuses to sign a bill for which he does not approve. this is called a veto. and the president usually prepares a veto message that explains his reasons. the vetoed bill and message are sent back to congress and this ends the matter unless congress
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can pass the bill over the veto by a 2 thirds vote of both houses. and then it becomes a law without the president's 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, creating laws and diversified as the nation size. labor, nationally defense, government departments, regulation of transportation, foreign trade, taxes, bills, bills, bills. and every act informed to the written constitution of the united states which fixes the rules, rules made by the people themselves. acting to represent of the
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people, rules for the people, rules which govern the great enterprise of revolt.
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