|FOR RELEASE THURSDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1961
By Morris K. Udall
REFLECTIONS ON THE FIRST SESSION
If moderation is a good thing (and I think it is) the overall record of the first session, 87th Congress, probably will go down in history as good.
The liberal Americans for Democratic Action have denounced the session as "disappointing." Republican "truth squads" have termed the session's actions "too radical." Perhaps these are a measure of Congress' middle course.
When Congress convened last January, concern was focused primarily on two issues: a troubled international picture and a lagging domestic economy.
As the economy improved, the international situation worsened. By the time Congress adjourned, the harsh international picture more and more dominated the outlook of senators and representatives.
In a representative democracy the parliament should reflect the mood of the country. I think it did. Congress' record is one of moderation, but not retreat, on domestic issues. Established programs in various fields were continued, and in some cases broadened. So it was with social security changes, extension of minimum wage and overtime provisions to 3.6 million new employees, continuation of federal aid for airports, two-year extension of impact school aid, extension to 1967 of program aiding communities to build sewage treatment plants, extension of Mexican farm labor program.
The program to build 41,000 miles of interstate highways was kept rolling, along with its provisions by which states can restrict billboards. A general farm act extended the feed grain program for 1962, liberalized farm credit, established a wheat program for 1961-62. Additional federal judges were authorized.
Congress moved to stimulate the economy through such measures as the area redevelopment program, emergency unemployment compensation benefits, and emergency aid to dependent children of unemployed workers. Subsidies were voted for small lead and zinc mines.
Development of our nation's resources was continued. Cautiously, Congress approved a controversial federal power grid system, then ordered consideration be given private utilities. A controversial power generation plant at the Hanford Reactor Station was rejected.
Congress moved into some new fields. In the new Housing Act, for instance, cities are encouraged to provide "open space" for parks and other facilities and aid is offered for mass transportation systems. Reorganization was approved for some agencies, rejected for others. New anti-crime laws were passed. At Cape Cod, Congress established
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ON THE FIRST SESSION
the first national park since 1947.
To protect our national security, Congress voted huge defense expenditures, authorized recall of 250,000 ready reservists, put civil defense under the Defense Department,provided a program to help Latin American countries and other under-developed nations improve their lot, established a Peace Corps, began a race to the moon, made airline hijacking punishable by death.
President Kennedy's new look defense requests were met. Congress moved to broaden our offense capability. It is hoped that not only will we have massive power to retailiate by nuclear weapons but also we'll have the capability of fighting and winning so-called "brush fire" wars.
These were just a few of the 401 public and 284 private bills enacted into law. Many of them are important, and some affect us all.
When Congress reconvenes January 10, it will face some major issues. Among these are medical care for the aged, aid to schools for new classrooms and/or teacher salaries, a postal deficit which will soon approach $1 billion a year, the wilderness bill, tax revision and a look back on a $7 billion budget deficit.
And all of us, and our friends and families, will still face next January and for months to come the threat of a truly horrible war. There will be great need for strong resolve, good judgment, deliberate action. Panic, hysteria and unnecessary dissension among Americans are not needed. Every week ought to be "Keep Your Shirt On" Week.
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