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tv   Reel America A Day in Congress - 1949  CSPAN  March 12, 2021 11:46pm-12:06am EST

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every two years in early
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january, congress opens with many senators and representatives new to capitol hill. up next on real america, a 1949 educational film explaining the workings of capitol hill during the 80th congress. a narrator traces the progress of the agricultural act of 1948 through committees, health and senate compromise and the signature of her harry truman making the bill a law ♪ ♪ ♪ >> washington, rallying center of the democratic world today. and at the heart of washington is the government of the united
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states of america. spreading through the city and along the wall. the white house, home of the president and of the executive power of government. the supreme court, which interprets the laws. the capital, the home of congress, which makes the laws of the united states. and the shadow of this dome is this sided much of the destiny of our times. ♪ ♪ ♪
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the first thing that happens in the morning at 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 so important apart and 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 himself. but first, you would have to go to classes. you would study many subjects, history, government,
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mathematics, literature, yes and anatomy. the pageboy is called this a dummy oscar. the classmates would be poise of high school age. carefully selected from all over the united states, where their ability, courtesy and personality. he 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 having to work late into the night. you would study your own country and many other lines. but over your studies would rule 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. the day starts early at the capitol. the president of the senate, the vice president of the united states is at his best -- get desk to study the program
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for the day and to lay out the schedule for the senate. so that everything will move smoothly. in recent years, a 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 the great college, which might be called, capitol 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 of the members of each must approve the for a lot can be made. the senate has special powers and 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 in
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accordance with population. the house originates appropriation bills and brings impeachments. the capital building itself symbolizes the making of our nation's laws but only a part of the work takes place under its dome. here are the house office buildings where congressman have their offices and do much of their work. they're also meeting rooms for committees, both a 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. to the north is a senate office building where senators have suites of offices for themselves and further assistance let us go in and walk down one of the corridors. senator margaret smith at maine, senators thomas, from oklahoma, senator green of rhode island, senator taft of ohio here is a senator himself his daily work typifies that of all lawmakers. half of his average day is spent in reading and answering
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letters from his constituents. this is as it should be for these constituents are his neighbors and the voters who support making him a senator this pile of 10,000 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 unanswered. national lawmakers must be sensitive to the constantly shifting opinions and criticisms of the public. as experts the ruler -- >> to favored occupation of the administration. 1 million here, a billionaire! >> in newspapers, whether in the news or editorial columns. and even television breaks
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praise or criticism the senator in massachusetts and his colleagues. magazines are another check. this freedom of the press is the very cornerstone of democracy. but the most direct contact of always talking to neighbors back home. every two years, congress linen every six, years senator must stand for reelection. seek the support of the voters of their district to return them to congress. the support which is given and all withheld and three public elections. where every voter cast a secret ballot, according to his own conscience. the elections had an l free state and every congressional district across the nation. here enshrined in the library of congress is one of the most important documents in the history of freedom. it controls these elections in the lawmaking process in which flow from them. the written constitution of the united states. so that the laws, which are, made may be constitutional and useful, lawmakers must constantly study to meet this
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need, there was established in 1946, a fact gathering agency that operates on an assembly line scale the legislative 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 work weeks of research and book length reports. regular or special congressional committees like the armed services committee often start fireworks the committee works over bills before they are debated or
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voted upon it is another way in which congress seeks to get all the facts before attacks on a bill. some committee hearings can be very tense, and sometimes they are used to air political views which are embarrassing to one of the parties are congress congressional committees have the power under law to propel the attendance of witnesses and to have them testify under oath. the chairman and the members of the committee may question witnesses. open committee hearings on important questions often attract large attendance and of course, the newspaper reporters are there. there are some high ranking naval officers who 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 top opposing parties trying to straighten out some difference of opinions so that lawmaking will not be blocked. back in the capital, under the dome, statuary hall illicit or
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info improves to lawbreaking activity. it is still with relics of the past. to remind congressman of the presage's heritage which they hold interest. 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. there are excited today for the sense, has two members of congress, and approaching climax. the expected vote on the farm bill, which has been debated for weeks. senator lucas, the senate majority leader is called a hurry confidence of two senators who have been active in the battle to pass the administration's farm bill to see what they can do to do a favorable vote. senator anderson of new mexico, author of the bill, and senator, of wyoming, influential senate leader. they must inside the final taxes to be deployed on the
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floor of the senate. the bill is teetering in the balance. it could be defeated. just as they have made their decision, a pageboy enters and they leave through a private door to the senate chamber to debate on the farm bill that is in full swing. senator akin. senator morris. senator -- senator omani drawings of the debate. senator murray, the opposition would refuse. while the senate debate on the farm bill is underway, there also is activity on the south side. minority leader congressman joe martin has learned that the majority party is making a desperate effort to pass its bill through the senate. congresswoman marks his favor to aid to farmers, but he's very much opposed to the methods proposed in the administration's bill. he is determined to have this bill in the house. counter contra mover felipe force a compromise. he has a secretary some in the republican book for the house congressman errands. a party like our quarterback
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acts -- they decide they need the advice of congressman. formally house leader for the republican party and he is invited to join the conch chris they must think this out carefully. they must drink -- 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
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has called a special meeting. it is apparent that the bill 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
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railway train to the senate office building. during any day they often have 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
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for the showdown report for every bill. all over capitol hill they 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
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information to the public is also a part of the democratic 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
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sent back to congress and this ends the matter unless congress 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


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