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Is it the ambition of your legislation that the President have more power or less power to develop his own budget? As I look at the legisiation, it occurs to me what you really want to do is appoint someone who would prepare the budget independent of the President, or to try to separate that power. I have some difficulty with that.
Mr. Brooks. In response to my distinguished friend from Ohio, let me say this legislation will in no way impair the Executive's authority and power to prepare his own budget in the manner and fashion that he desires. In no way. This would build up the functions a little bit in an Office of Management and Budget if they adopt the suggested language I will offer.
Mr. Brown. A 4-year term wouldn't make any difference?
Mr. BROOKS. Basically, no. No, I don't think so at all. I think the President will have full authority as he has now to formulate his own budget. Everybody wants him to do that. It is just that we want to have an opportunity to confirm the man he selects to do that.
Now, as Congressman Wright suggested, if he appointed at the second or third echelon a man who did the job, and he appointed Daddy Warbucks as Director, then that would be another story. I don't think that this President will do that. I think he will appoint a Director and they will keep on running their business the way he wants to. This is not to impair his authority and power in submitting a budget at all. Nobody that I have talked to had that in mind.
(The amendment suggested by Mr. Brooks and discussed above follows:) A BILL To provide for the appointment by the President, by and with the advice and con
sent of the Senate, of a Director, Office of Management and Budget, and for other purposes Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the offices of Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget, established in Section 207 of the Budget and Accounting Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C. 16) and as designated in section 102 (b) of Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1970, are abolished.
SEC. 2. The offices of Director, Office of Management and Budget, and Deputy Director. Office of Management and Budget, are established in the Office of Management and Budget and shall be filled by appointment by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.
SEC. 3. (a) The functions transferred to the President by section 101 of Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1970 and all functions vested by law in the Office of Management and Budget or the Director of the Office of Management and Budget are transferred to the office of Director, Office of Management and Budget. The President may, from time to time, assign to such office such additional functions as he may deem necessary.
(b) The Director may, from time to time, assign to the office of Deputy Director, such functions as he may deem necessary.
SEC. 4. Nothing in this Act shall impair the power of the President to remove the occupants of the offices of Director, Office of Management and Budget, and Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget.
SEC. 5. (a) Paragraph (11) of Section 5315 of Title 5, United States Code, is amended to read :
“(11) Director, Office of Management and Budget."
(b) Paragraph (31) of Section 5314 of Title 5, United States Code is amended to read:
“(34) Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget."
SEC. 6. This art shall take effect upon the expiration of the thirty day period which begins on the date of its enactment.
Chairman HOLIFIELD. Thank you very much, Congressman Brooks.
Our next witness on the list, Mr. Alexander, is not in the room. We will recognize you, Congressman Melcher, for a statement.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN MELCHER, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MONTANA
Mr. MELCIIER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have a prepared statement which is before you and I have a few remarks to add to that at the outset, and then I will briefly summarize the prepared statement to save the time of the committee.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I want to make it clear that I believe it is time to put a jerk line on the OMB Director and that includes the present Director, Roy Ash. I think he should be required to be confirmed by the Senate and only confirmed after he promises to bring his agency into cooperation with the Congress instead of running it like a Frankenstein monster.
The buildup of power in OMB hasn't occurred over night, it has occurred through a number of decades. It is not the fault directly of any individual director, let alone the present one, who has just assumed his duties there.
But the OMB is a superagency, a conduit, through which nearly all communications between Congress and executive agencies must pass. It shelves congressionally approved legislation, terminates programs authorized and funded by Congress, and we see it now advancing budget proposals for huge military increases.
These hearings on the bills to require confirmation of the OMB Director should be a clear bipartisan test of congressional will to regain the initiative in setting priorities as the Constitution directs.
Requiring a Senate confirmation of the Director, including the present Director, should start by requiring the Senate to grill Mr. Ash as to his intentions in running his office. He should be disapproved if he cannot give solid assurance to run it with integrity, prudent authority, and a firm intention of working with Congress and not against us.
Under the guise of saving money, OMB's recent moves have been to delay payments, such as highway funds to the Stateg, which only adds to construction costs later or shuffling moves, such as Farmers Home Administration water and sewer grants shifted to the Environmental Protection Agency, or terminating health, education, and social community programs to be picked up by revenue sharing, and at the same time advancing the huge budget increase in defense and foreign aid spending.
Some of their moves recently are probably illegal, but none of their hocus pocus should deny the legitimate rights and needs of citizens as provided by acts of Congress.
From its start in 1921, as the Bureau of the Budget, through its evolution to the present Office of Management and Budget, it has been a gradual accumulation of awesome power. The Director exercises power in the President's name, just as Cabinet members do. It is obvious his own personal views and judgments are reflected in what is done, just as is the case in Cabinet members, who must be confirmed.
There are 16 component oflices of the Executive Office of the White House. The Directors of 10 require Senate confirmation. Those requiring confirmation include important, but nevertheless less powerful, acerries like Office of Telecommunications Policy, and the Council of Environmental Qualitv. OMB, a veritable elephant among mice, goes its way beholden to nobody but the President.
Every Member of Congress who has had funds impounded for projects in his district or State, and every chairman of every committee who has asked for information from the very executive branch they are directed by the Constitution to oversee, can testify that virtually nothing is done without the concurrence of the Director of OMB. Indeed, administration views on proposed legislation now carry the line. “The Office of Management and Budget has advised that *** " the bill he approved or disapproved.
I shall not belabor the issue. My colleague in the Senate, Lee Metcalf of Montana, introduced into the Congressional Record of February 1 a superb and scholarly account of the evolution of the agency in question. Senator Sam Ervin has likewise provided for the record persuasive arguments that alert the American people to the need of constitutional adherence on this question.
I, therefore, urge the committee to correct this situation. I am confident you will report to the full House a bill requiring congressional approval of the President's choice for Director of OMB.
I fully approve the amendment which has been made to my original bill in the Senate and at least one House version requiring confirmation of the Denuty Director.
If the bill I have introduced-H.R. 204, and the subsequent companion measures offered to accommodate the more than 100 Members who wished to cosponsor it, H.R. 3289, 3290, 4265, 4266, 4649, and 4650 contribute to the final enactment of legislation to accomplish the requirement of confirmation, the many cosponsors and I will be pleased.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
(Congressman Melcher's prepared statement follows:) PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN MELCHER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS
FROM THE STATE OF MONTANA Mr. Chairman, I thank the committee for this opportunity to testify on this very important bill. Its importance is witnessed by an overwhelming vote to passage in the U.S. Senate and by the cosponsorship of more than 100 of our colleagues in the House.
The issue is simple. When the Bureau of the Budget was created by Congress in 1921 as an aid to the President, it was intended to be a minor office and the House refused to accede to the Senate's insistence that its Director be confirmed by that body.
Times have changed. In 1939, the Bureau was moved from the Treasury De partment to the White House. In 1950 the Budgeting and Accounting Procedures Act enlarged its powers over agency accounting and budget systems, and in 1956 Congress strengthened them again.
In 1968, additional grants of authority were given under the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act. Finally, on July 1, 1970, President Nixon moved to convert it into a totally new management agency and call it the Office of Management and Budget, or OMB for short. The new agency is now the conduit through which nearly all communications between the Congress and the executive agencies flow, putting it in some respects above Cabinet status.
Its evolution in the 50's and 60's to a superagency was what the Senate had foreseen when it originally proposed confirmation of the director-a gradual accumulation of power. Of late its growth is more like a Frankenstein monster. Congress is now confronted with an organization which even shelves congressionally approved legislation and terminates programs enacted and funded by Congress, yet technically it is not answerable to the Congress in any way. This situation cannot be permitted to continue.
The first step is to require Congressional confirmation of the director who heads OMB. Among the bills before you now is H.R. 204 which I introduced on the opening day of the Congress. It has been cosponsored by more than 100 House Members, Democrats and Republicans alike.
Congress should take the initiative in this matter. There can be no doubt about the constitutional authority of the Congress to take action. Under section 904(2) of the Reorganization Act–5 U.S.C. 904 (2)-authorized officials must either be confirmed by the Senate or be in the competitive civil service.
Additional authority resides in the Constitution. It says the Congress may vest in the President appointment "of such inferior officers ..." as it deems fit. Having decided in 1921 that the OMB's predecessor was an inferior agency, it can reverse itself.
Apart from the facts of power, which are obvious even to the most naive observer, we have it from no less a person than President Nixon himself that the new agency, and I quote, “represents far more than a mere change of name for the Bureau of the Budget. It represents à basic change in concept and emphasis, reflecting the broader management needs of the Office of the President."
It does indeed represent more than a mere change of name! Its mushrooming staff of nearly 700 employees and budget of $19 million belies its real significance. Among all the President's lieutenants, perhaps only the Secretary of Defense wields as much power as does the Director of OMB who touches the lives of many million Americans when he impounds funds from a broad spectrum covering agriculture, highways, education, housing, resources, conservation, and many other fields.
Although he exercises power in the President's name, just as Cabinet members do, it is obvious his own personal views and judgments are reflected in what is done, as in the case of Cabinet members, who must be confirmed.
There are 16 component offices of the Executive Office of the White House. The directors of 10 require Senate confirmation. Those requiring confirmation include important, but nevertheless less powerful, agencies like Office of Telecommunications Policy, and the Council of Environmental Quality. OMB, a veritable elephant among mice, goes its way beholden to nobody but the President.
Every Member of Congress who has had funds impounded for projects in his district or State, and every chairman of every committee who has asked for information from the very executive branch they are directed by the Constitution to oversee, can testify that virtually nothing is done without the concurrence of the Director of OMB. Indeed, administration views on proposed legislation now carry the line, "The Office of Management and Budget has advised that ..." the bill be approved or disapproved.
I shall not belabor the issue. My colleague in the Senate, Lee Metcalf of Montana, introduced into the Congressional Record of February 1 a superb and scholarly account of the evolution of the agency in question. Senator Sam Ervin has likewise provided for the Record persuasive arguments that alert the American people to the need of Constitutional adherence on this question.
I therefore urge the committee to correct this situation. I am confident you will report to the full House a bill requiring Congressional approval of the President's choice for Director of OMB.
I fully approve the amendment which has been made to my original bill in the Senate and at least one House version requiring confirmation of the Deputy Director.
If the bill I have introduced-H.R. 204, and the subsequent companion meas. ures offered to accommodate the many Members who wished to cosponsor it, H.R. 3289, 3290, 3291, 4265, 4266, 4649, and 4650 contribute to the final enactment of legislation to accomplish the requirement of confirmation, the many cosponsors and I will be pleased.
Chairman HOLIFIELD. Mr. Rosenthal, do you have any questions?
Mr. ROSENTHAL. No questions, Mr. Chairman, other than to say I thank my colleague, Mr. Melcher, for a very important and significant and articulate statement.
Chairman HOLIFIELD. Mr. Horton?
But I would assume you have changed your position since 1970. In 1970, you voted to accept the transfer of this authority from the Bureau of the Budget to OMB. In other words, you are now taking the position that is inconsistent with the vote you made on May 13, 1970, when you voted against the disapproval resolution.
Mr. MELCHER. Well, it may be inconsistent, but I assure you that I take this position very firmly at this time in 1973.
Mr. HORTON. What has changed since then?
Mr. MELCHER. I think the real awesome power that has been exercised by this Office has been tremendously augmented during the last 3 years. I think what probably should have been done, as the Senate wished, in 1921, under the original act, to require the Director of the Budget Bureau to be confirmed by the Senate then. The House disagreed and in conference the requirement was dropped.
I think it is obvious now that what the Senate feared then, that the Office would become a policymaking body rather than just a group
of bookkeepers and advisers, I think it is obvious that it has become a policymaking body and I think that recently it is becoming much more powerful.
Mr. HORTON. That is not consistent with the testimony given at the hearings, nor the statements that were made on the floor during the course of debate on this disapproval resolution. At that time it was indicated that it would be an arm of the President, and it was being strengthened; it was to be given not only budget authority, but also management authority.
I think the concern you have, John, is that the awesomeness is the awesomeness of the Presidency. This is an inferior officer, the OMB role is a role that the President has, and the only solution I see is to ask for confirmation of the President. Because if you are going to set up a new agency, as the gentleman said earlier, that is somethng else. We can debate that out and talk about it. If you are going to set up a new agency that is independent from the President, require confirmation, OK.
But it seems to me if you have the situation which existed in 1970, and which still exists, in which is needed an officer of the President, an arm of the President, to handle his budget and management functions, then this bill is out of order.
Mr. MELCHER. I think the bill is very timely. I hope it isn't too late for Congress to start reestablishing its prerogatives. I think this is one small step toward that. I don't view OMB function as anything inferior, as is being persisted by the present Director and by his predecessor. I think it is obvious that the Director and the OMB in total is exercising greater power than most Cabinet members, second probably only to the Secretary of Defense in the power it wields in this country.
Chairman HOLIFIELD. Mr. Fuqua?