May 21, 1959

Page 8734


Mr. MUSKIE. Mr. President, one of the unique contributions which America has made to the art of government is the Federal system. It served, in the first instance, in the Constitutional Convention, as a practical compromise between those who believed in a strong central government and those who believed in a loose federation of autonomous States. It has served since that time as a practical means for governing a varied population spread out over a large land area. It is based on the premise that strong local self-government is essential in a democratic society. At the same time, it has enabled us to deal with the emerging problems of an increasingly complex industrial and urban society as we have realistically adjusted the functions of each of the three levels of government to the nature and scope of the problems.

I happen to believe that a well-balanced Federal system is essential to broad-based participation by our citizens in the processes of government; and that such participation is a condition to the preservation of our democratic institutions. However, such a balance cannot remain static. The 19th century balance of functions as between the three levels of government would not work today. And tomorrow's balance will depend upon the problems with which we will find it necessary to deal.

Moreover, the three levels of government are not separate compartments insulated from each other. The problems with which each level is concerned, the services which each renders, are all part of our national economic, social, and political fabric. There are areas of exclusive jurisdiction by one level of government. There are areas of parallel activities. There are areas of cooperative effort.

The growth of our population, its increasing concentration in urban areas , the increasing complexity of our economy and our society as a result of the industrial revolution, have inevitably resulted in the growth of government itself. The resulting regulatory activities and governmental services have developed within the framework of the Federal system and have accrued to various levels of government, in accordance with the pressures of varying times and circumstances.

The division of responsibilities thus gradually established has been the subject of scrutiny and controversy for the past half century. There are, of course strongly held differences of opinion as to whether certain functions are assigned to the proper level of government. Not withstanding these differences of opinion, and however they may be resolved, we face the fact that the Federal system is performing today's governmental chores and that it is not doing so in all instances as effectively and efficiently as it might. As I have said, this has been a subject of considerable study for some time. One such study was made by the Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, also known as the Kestnbaum Commission, which was established by the Congress in 1953 and which issued its final report in June 1955. That study was concerned chiefly with an evaluation of the philosophy and principles of federalism.

Another recent study, which is still in progress, is being conducted by the Joint Federal-State Action Committee which was organized pursuant to a recommendation by the President made to the Governors' conference on June 24, 1957. The express purpose of the Committee, made up of Governors and Federal officials, is to designate grant-aided functions which States are ready and willing to assume and to determine revenue adjustments needed to enable States to assume such functions.

A third study, conducted by the Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Operations, under the chairmanship of Congressman L. H. FOUNTAIN, of North Carolina, has been giving particular attention to the report of the Kestnbaum. Commission, giving special emphasis to the Federal grant-in-aid programs.

That subcommittee transmitted its excellent report to the House on August 8, 1958. The report concluded that it is now desirable to concentrate on the practical and continuing problem of seeking to improve the operation of our Federal system, and particularly the design and consistency of the innumerable Federal grants.

To provide an instrument for this purpose, I am today introducing, on behalf of myself and Senators HUMPHREY, ERVIN, CASE of New Jersey, MCCARTHY, HARTKE and COOPER, a bill to establish an Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. The proposed Commission would not duplicate the work of either the Kestnbaum Commission or the Joint Federal-State Action Committee. Rather, it would serve as a central clearinghouse for information on all aspects of intergovernmental relations; It would serve as a forum for discussion of specific problems and particular programs; it would give specialized attention, on a continuing basis, to particular intergovernmental problems with a view to promoting greater cooperation among the various levels of government and providing a systematic means for encouraging better relations among them. It would provide technical assistance and make recommendations as to the desirable allocation of government responsibilities and solving particular intergovernmental problems, with particular reference to emerging problems. It would undertake to review existing grant programs with a view to evaluation of their achievements and suggesting the directions in which they should move.

This bill is identical to H.R. 6904, which was introduced in the House by Representative FOUNTAIN and to a companion bill, H.R. 6905, which was introduced by Representative FLORENCE P. DWYER, the ranking minority member on the Fountain subcommittee.

The purpose of the bill, and the function of the proposed Commission, might be illustrated by brief reference to some of the specific problems which were pinpointed by the Fountain subcommittee in its report:

First. Because grant proposals have emerged from various and sundry sources, almost inevitably features have been adopted in individual programs which tend to weaken the grant structure as a whole.

Second. Features such as provision for Judicial review of Federal administrative decisions and the degree of equalization contained in grant formulas vary considerably between grant programs.

Third. Increasingly, State per capita personal income is used as an element in grant formulas, and there appears to be a need for a reexamination of the soundness of such a criterion in terms of achieving program objectives.

Fourth. State and local officials ought to have specific information as to how proposed Federal aid programs could be expected to affect their States or localities

Fifth . As consideration is given to new Programs or the amendment of old programs, there is a need for some means of studying such proposals in the perspective of the whole grant system and of obtaining current information as to the needs and views of States and municipalities

Sixth. There is a need for periodic review of grant programs in order to determine their accomplishments and the extent of unmet needs or to consider whether or not the programs should be continued.

Seventh. There is insufficient data available indicating the relative fiscal effort being made by States and localities in areas of present or proposed Federal grant programs.

Eighth. There is a wide variation in program practices and standards.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend the outstanding report of the Fountain subcommittee. My interest in the subject originates with my experiences as Governor of Maine and my firm conviction that effective and efficient government requires that we work constantly in the job of improving relationships between the three levels of government.

Mr. President, I introduce the bill for appropriate reference and ask unanimous consent that the bill may be printed in the RECORD for the convenience of my colleagues. and that it be held at the desk for 1 week, for the purpose of giving other Senators an opportunity to cosponsor it if they so desire.

[The full text of the bill follows, Page 8735; May 21, 1959, Congressional Record.]

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