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PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
MONDAY, JANUARY 18, 1932
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON THE ELECTION OF PRESIDENT,
VICE PRESIDENT, AND REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS,
Washington, D. C'. The committee met at 10.30 o'clock a. m., Hon. Samuel Rutherford (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be in order.
Mr. JEFFERS. I understand we have met to consider the proposition voted out of this committee last year on which we went to conference with the Senate, namely, the fixing of the date for the inauguration of a new President, administration, and Congress, and in order to get something before the committee I move that we take up this Rutherford resolution 180 for consideration.
Mr. FREAR. Why not take them all up and not confine it to discussion of that one?
Mr. CABLE. I will offer a substitute motion, to get down to the milk in the coconut. I move that Mr. Gifford's bill be considered instead of that of the chairman.
Mr. LozIER. Why not consider all of them?
The CHAIRMAN. They can all be considered together.
Mr. LOZIER. I think there would be no disposition to foreclose discussion or presentation of them.
Mr. CABLE. Why consider a bill for two or three meetings and then abandon it for one later on?
The CHAIRMAN. We will go along and consider any evidence from the viewpoint of all of them.
Mr. CABLE. All right. I withdraw my motion.
The CHAIRMAN. My resolution 180 is a fac simile of the Norris resolution. If there is no discussion further, Mr. Jeffer's motion is carried. Mr. Johnson is here and wants to be heard on one phase of his bill.
STATEMENT OF HON. LUTHER A. JOHNSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. JOHNSON. There is one phase of the subject that I would like to call to the attention of the committee. I think we are all agreed that some such legislation should pass, and, speaking for myself, I have been very enthusiastically in favor of the proposed change since my membership in the House. The thing I have in mind is to take care of the situation when the assembling date shall fall on Sunday.
The bill that I introduced at this session is H. J. Res. 45, and I provide in that, section 2, Congress "shall assemble at least once each year and such meeting shall begin at noon on the first Monday in January, unless they shall by law appoint a different date."
The bill introduced by the chairman of the committee, as I understand, is in conformity with that which passed the Senate, introduced by Senator Norris, and it provides that Congress shall assemble each and every year and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 2d day of January.
Mr. WARREN. If you change that to the first Monday, in section 1, where the terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 15th of January, you would necessarily have to change that to the third Monday.
Mr. JOHNSON. It probably would be best to have a little intervening space of time. In my bill I think I made a little more difference in time. I made it the 20th of January. My bill provided that the term of office of Congress should begin on the 1st day of January, the first day of the month, and the terms of the President and the Vice President, to begin on the 20th of January, the purpose, of course, being to give a sufficient intervening space in the event that there should be any delay in counting the electoral votes, so that that work would be completed in time for the inauguration.
Mr. CABLE. Do you not think there ought to be, at least, a month between the time that Congress convenes and that?
Mr. JOHNSON. That may be necessary. I do not know, Mr. Cable. Ordinarily, it is largely perfunctory, but I have not investigated the practical effect of it to know. I think that either there should be a provision in the bill that we should meet on the first Monday or if a definite date is fixed then there should be a proviso that when this date falls on Sunday that Congress should assemble on the succeeding day thereafter. We have this situation with reference to the inauguration of the President of the United States, that a fixed, definite date is provided for the President, namely, the 4th of March. The American people have always felt its significance and there has never been any effort to inaugurate a President on Sunday when the 4th day of March fell on Sunday because it was felt the people would not stand for it. At least, they were not in accord with such an idea, and to get around it here is what should happen. I have in my office-I came here from another committee meeting-the record of the various dates that the 4th of March came on Sunday, since the adoption of our present Constitution. It is not very many but it will be four times as many for Congress meeting every year instead of an inauguration date every four years. The practice observed is that when March 4 comes on Sunday, the President takes the oath on that date, and he again takes the oath on March 5 when he is formally inaugurated. Providing that Congress shall meet on the first Monday in January does not conflict with the congressional term of office. You may say the terms of office would be indefinite. That is not the case.
The term of office of Congressmen and Senators is fixed in section 1, which provides that the beginning and expirations of such terms shall be the 2d of January, the date in your bill, Mr. Chairman. The assembling date of Congress is in another section, so that there will be no variation in the lengtht of terms of members. Concerning