Congress due to keep eyes on elections (1-10-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (January 10, 1944)


Congress due to keep eyes on elections

Taxes, consumer subsidies and soldier vote among problems

Roosevelt on radio at 9:00 p.m. Tuesday

Washington (UP) –
President Roosevelt will not deliver his State of the Union message to Congress in person tomorrow but will make a radio address at 9:00 p.m. ET tomorrow, giving a brief version of the message which will go to the Capitol at noon.

The President’s physician, RAdm. Ross T. McIntire, asked the Chief Executive not to go before Congress in person tomorrow.

Adm. McIntire sought to avoid a possible recurrence of the light case of grippe from which Mr. Roosevelt has been suffering, although he is now virtually recovered.

Washington (UP) –
The 78th Congress, its members freshened in outlook after a three-week holiday among their constituents, moved into its second session today confronted with important problems of both war and peace.

The new session faced an ambitious program in a year of presidential elections, an event certain to influence the activities of the most evenly-divided Congressional party ranks in a decade.

There were irksome questions of taxes, consumer subsidies and the soldier vote carried over in half-finished form from the first session.

Opening to be routine

In addition, because the war in Europe may be won before this Congress expires next January, it must plan now for at least partial demobilization of the nation’s huge war machine.

Today’s schedule was only the routine formality of getting the second session underway,

Mr. Roosevelt’s annual State of the Union message will be read in Congress tomorrow.

The budget message, to be sent Thursday, is likely to call for an outlay in the neighborhood of $95 billion.

Tax bill in Senate

Taxes were first on the Congressional agenda. The Senate may start floor debate tomorrow on the $2,275,600,000 tax bill which it was unable to finish before the Christmas holiday.

The program for the rest of the year will probably include:

  • SUBSIDIES: There is a Feb. 17 deadline on efforts to develop a compromise on the outright ban on consumer food subsidies voted by the House. A limit on their amount appeared possible.

  • LABOR: Either national service legislation, if the President asks for it, or an extension of the penalty provisions of the present anti-strike law to non-government-operated war industries is in prospect.

  • BUDGET: The first of the annual appropriation bills will probably be introduced in the House before the end of this month. New appropriations may reach nearly $100 billion by June 30.

  • SOLDIER VOTE: The House Elections Committee will meet tomorrow on the Senate-approved resolution leaving to the states the job of providing votes for members of the Armed Forces. Federal-enabling legislation is still definitely in prospect, however.

  • LEND-LEASE: Existing authority for the Lend-Lease agreements expires June 30. A movement to nail down world post-war petroleum and aviation rights for the United States may be made when extension legislation is considered.

  • OFFICE OF PRICE ADMINISTRATION: Existing OPA authorization expires June 30. Republicans will probably attack its administration of price-fixing and rationing when renewal legislation comes up. Farm Senators have threatened to press enabling legislation if OPA does not take pork off the ration list during the current surplus.

  • VETERANS BENEFITS: The Senate has approved mustering-out payments for veterans ranging from $200 to $500, depending on length of service. The House is expected to cut it to a single uniform figure. There probably will be added later programs of unemployment compensation, educational aid allotments, disability allowances and perhaps even adjusted service compensation.

  • FOOD: A sizable bloc in the House is still demanding that all food production, pricing and distribution be placed under a single federal agency. They may seek to make it a rider on the OPA continuation bill.

  • PROHIBITION: Rep. Joseph R. Bryson (D-SC) is planning a determined drive for wartime national prohibition. He has already introduced a bill and a House subcommittee will hold hearings of it this week. Meanwhile, a committee by Senator Frederick Van Nuys (D-IN) hopes to find some means of breaking the current whisky shortage.

  • FOREIGN RELIEF: Legislation to authorize financial participation by the United States in the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration is already started through Congress. Specific appropriations may be made before the end of this year.

  • INDUSTRIAL DEMOBILIZATION: Congress will probably set forth a policy for terminating war contracts and disposing of war plants which protects both the government’s financial interest and the civilian economy. It may also set up a federal program of public works to ease unemployment during the conversion period.

May decide strategy

The strategy that Senate Republicans will employ in this election-year session may be decided at a party conference scheduled for Wednesday.

The meeting was called to fill the posts of conference chairman and party whip, vacant since 1935. It may bring a showdown between the GOP Old Guard and Republican freshmen.

The issue was brought into the open by freshmen who feel the party has a good chance to win control of the Senate in next fall’s election if it will attack the New Deal with vigor at every possible opportunity. They are not satisfied with the quiet, soft-spoken leadership of Acting Minority Leader Wallace H. White Jr. (R-ME).

Old Guard nominees

To meet this challenge, the Old Guard has put up this slate for Wednesday’s meeting: For chairman, Arthur H. Vandenberg (Michigan); whip, Robert A. Taft (Ohio); secretary and acting leader, Mr. White.

The freshmen are expected to offer an opposition slate. If they do it is certain to be topped by someone who would miss no opportunity to challenge each item of administration legislation.

Thus, the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting may determine whether the Republican minority will attack the administration almost daily or follow the Old Guard strategy which, to date, has been to establish more quietly the record they wish to submit to the voters in November 1944.

How Congress lines up

Washington (UP) –
Here is the political division of the 78th Congress at the start of the second session, as compared with the lineup a year ago:


1943 1944
Democrats 57 58
Republicans 38 37
Progressive 1 1

1943 1944
Democrats 222 218
Republicans 208 208
Progressive 2 2
Farm-Labor 1 1
American Labor 1 1
Vacancies 1 5
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