« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
legislation of this character on the statute books than our colleague, Mr. Walter.
Mr. GRAHAM. I would like to agree heartily with that in every way.
Mr. GWYNNE. Following that original bill, of course, we had the bill of last year which finally was passed and which was signed by the President and became the Administrative Procedure Act. The law was hailed by the bar and by thinking people generally as a great step forward, as a great step along the road that we must travel-the road that leads back from a government of men to a government of laws.
As Mr. Walter has pointed out, during this time that the bill was before the Congress, many bureaus and agencies of the Government were very much opposed to it, and they have never accepted it kindly. I am not surprised at the attempt now being made, and I predict further attempts will be made, to whittle down the act.
Mr. KEATING. In that connection, I think that another bill is before
Mr. GWYNXE. I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, that before this is done, we certainly should give this matter great consideration. would not like to see, on account of the tremendous struggle that was had to get this act on the books, any whittling done on its provisions.
Mr. GRAHAM. Thank you. Any questions? (No response.)
CONDUCT OF DISCIPLINARY HEARINGS OF COAST
GUARD COMMISSIONED OFFICERS
FRIDAY, MARCH 5, 1948
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE No. 3,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10 a. m., in room 327, Old House Office Building, Hon. Louis E. Graham (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. GRAHAM. The committee will please come to order.
We have under consideration S. 1077, an act to amend section 4450 of the revised statutes of the United States, as amended by the act of July 29, 1937, and for other purposes.
Mr. GRAHAM. There are several who wish to be heard on this bill. The Chair will recognize Mr. Latham, from New York.
STATEMENT OF HON. HENRY J. LATHAM, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Chairman, my name is Henry J. Latham, Member of Congress from the Third District of New York.
I am especially interested in this matter, Mr. Chairman, because I am a member of the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries and because there is a question of public safety involved, I think, in the passage of this bill.
I would like to break down my remarks and divide them into three categories:
1. What is the situation today with respect to this problem?
This matter came to my attention originally because of an editorial which appeared in the New York Herald-Tribune on December 11, 1947. The title of this editorial is “Shipboard Discipline” and the best way I know to present this problem is to read this very brief editorial.
Mr. GRAHAM. All right.
Ship discipline is one of those indispensables without which no merchant marine can survive. So the charge that in American ships it has fallen to its lowest point in maritime history deserves comment, to put it mildly. Our merchant seamen are treated and protected more generously than any other. At the moment our merchant fleet dominates the seas. Imagine, then, a situation in which the men who man our ships are free of the restraints associated with their responsibilities. Yet that appears to be the case, due to a provision of the administrative procedures act effective last summer. This law, wise in its general intent, deprived administrative agencies of their power to try and penalize offenders against bureaucratic rules. But in doing so it made the Bureau of Marine Inspection of the Coast Guard, previously able to punish seamen and ships' officers for shipboard offenses, little more than an investigating agency. The result is that insubordination of various degrees has escaped correction and penalty.
This country is a maritime nation, has been since our forefathers peopled it. Americans are familiar with the basic necessity for shipboard discipline. Its lack today in American ships must be reinedied promptly if our merchant marine is to remain in the running. Which means that the Bureau of Marine Inspection should have restored to it the authority it enjoyed before the law was passed to which we have had reference. An amendment for the purpose has passed the Senate and is pending in the House. Let the House act-and favorably.
I think it is very clear when the Administrative Procedures Act was passed, it did not include these officers of the Coast Guard who were holding these hearings in disciplinary proceedings. As a matter of fact section 7 (a) of that bill specifically exempted hearings where they were specifically authorized by statute.
Now in R. S. 4150, under which the Coast Guard was holding these hearings since 1942, and had held over 30,000 hearings, it was set forth in the law that hearings were to be held by supervisors and inspectors and so forth.
Mr. GRAHAM. Yes.
Mr. LATHAM. So that it is very clear that the intent was when the Administrative Procedures Act was passed and the law passed, that the Coast Guard should continue to hold these hearings.
Now what happened after that? A month after June 11, 1947, when the Administrative Procedures Act became effective, the President's Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1946 became law and by an unintentional quirk in that law it wiped out the original exemption in the Administrative Procedures Act, because that wiped out the particular statutory positions of supervisory inspectors which gave the Coast Guard that authority. When that went through there was no talk about this particular thing and the Attorney General thereafter ruled since those statutory offices were wiped out and that came under the Administrative Procedures Act the Coast Guard could no longer hold those hearings.
I think this is a serious matter. We have skippers of ships sailing them who are incompetent to sail them. I have seen records of many offenses, three or four cases pending, involving death, and no power to take away tickets of those incapable men, and something, I respectfully suggest, has got to be done.
I would say, when the Administrative Procedures Act became law the Coast Guard still had authority under the law to hold these hearings and it wasn't really the administrative procedures Act that caused the trouble, but it was Reorganization Plan No. 3. That was unfortunate. I know a lot about the Coast Guard, since I was in the Navy myself during the war, and since it has had charge of these hearings and investigations they have handled about 30,000 cases, and out of those 30,000 cases less than 10 percent were appealed and only 4 went to the district courts and none were reversed.
Mr. ĠRAHAM. Speaking from your own knowledge you are firm in the conviction there isn't anything in the nature of a Star Chamber proceeding at all ?
Mr. LATHAM. No; certainly not, and it is preferable to giving authority to these bright, young lawyers out of law school that don't know the difference between a forecastle and a lazarette on a ship.
I would like to say that Mr. Ellsworth Buck is very much interested. He called my office and said he could not be here until 11 o'clock.
Mr. MILLET HAND. Mr. Weichel also expressed complete support.
Mr. GRAHAM. Those are the only ones I recall who have spoken to me about it.
Have you information concerning the opposition by Mr. Walter and Mr. Gwyne? I doubt if they will be over here because of the matters on the floor. Anyway in the event we do not finish today we will carry it over until next Wednesday.
Mr. LATHAM. Thank you very much. I would like to appear.
STATEMENT OF CAPT. A. C. RICHMOND, CHIEF, PLANNING AND
CONTROL STAFF, ACCOMPANIED BY CAPT. HENRY T. JEWELL, CHIEF, MERCHANT VESSELS PERSONNEL, UNITED STATES COAST GUARD, WASHINGTON, D. C.
Captain RICHMOND. The Coast Guard has no prepared statement to submit.
The Secretary of the Treasury has reported favorably on S. 1077 which in effect does accomplish the same purposes as the bill formerly considered by this committee, H. R. 2966.
Mr. GRAHAM. After having made a comparison of these two bills are you prepared to state wherein you think S. 1077 is a superior bill or meets the objection to the former bill?
Captain RICHMOND. I think it does. Considerable testimony was taken on the former bill. I would like merely to add in the record what has taken place since we appeared on H. R. 2966.
As of December 11, 1946, we conformed to the terms of the Administrative Procedures Act insofar as separating the functions of what is referred to of investigating officers distinguished from examiners.
We continued to hold hearings under R. S. 4450 until June 11, 1947, at which time we discontinued holding the hearings.
Subsequent to that we have investigated a number of cases. We have tried to administer R. S. 4450 on the principle in minor cases of admonishing the people involved, if there is indication that they have transgressed, and on the more serious cases we hold the record. Those more serious cases are building up at the rate of 100 a month.
Mr. GRAHAM. And at the moment how far are you behind on your schedule?
Captain RICHMOND. 700 serious cases.
Captain RICHMOND. At the same time we did that we have attempted to obtain funds for the hiring of civilian examiners in the event that neither of these bills become law.
Mr. GRAHAM. Had you exhausted your appropriation before?
Captain RICHMOND. Yes, that is correct, sir. It is really a limitation under our appropriation. We had originally in our 1948 appropriation a request for funds. That was rejected by the Appropria