By Morris K. Udall
CONGRESS GOES BACK TO WORK
In late December the House Office Building is a quiet place, but things have changed as the 2nd Session of the 87th Congress gets underway. Committee hearings are being held; lobbyists are seen in the corridors; House and Senate chambers once more ring with oratory (good and bad). Returning congressmen exchange recess experiences and the latest wisecracks ("If the new Department of Urban Affairs does for the city folks what the Department of Agriculture has done for the country folks, then Heaven help the city folks!").
These are important days for Arizona. The Supreme Court devoted four days to argument of Arizona v. California, a lawsuit described by the Washington Post as "one of the most important disputes ever to come before it." Listening to Mark Wilmer and Charley Reed ably present Arizona's strong case was an interesting and nostalgic interlude, for the courtroom was my second home for a decade.
There appears little chance of a decision in this suit before the closing stages of Congress, but the Arizona delegation is already doing spadework for 1963 and Arizona's Battle of Gettysburg: the $1 Billion Central Arizona Project. My assignment to a second committee--Interior and Insular Affairs--should be helpful, for the House in general, and this committee in particular, are traditionally the big hurdles for reclamation projects.
Serving on the Interior Committee will give me a chance to learn more about many Second District problems, and perhaps give a push to a number of important Arizona bills. This committee handles all legislation relating to Indians (1/4 of all American Indians are in my district), mining (1/2 of the nation's copper production takes place in the 2nd District), reclamation, federal lands, and national parks.
The first week of the session we ware able to get a hearing on my bill resolving a dispute over uranium mining at Grand Canyon; two days later the committee approved the bill and it will shortly come before the House for debate. A similar bill by Senators Hayden and Goldwater has already passed the Senate. The mining legislation on which we held Tucson hearings last November will be taken up shortly. I've introduced two new bills which I think will resolve most of the problems arising from mining claims in Tucson residential districts.
I am pressing for early hearings on my bill to establish Fort Bowie Historical Site, but there is always considerable opposition to making additions to the National Park System. I haven't tried to land a helicopter on the proposed site yet, so it is impossible to determine whether any irate cattleman would run me off.
|CONGRESSMAN'S REPORT..."CONGRESS GOES BACK
As a member of the House Post Office Committee I participated in last week's debate on postal rates and the $900 million annual postal deficit. While not as strong as my own bill, the House-passed measure will produce more than $700 million in new revenues, and is a big step in the right direction.
After seven months of study, I introduced four new bills aimed at creating a new and permanent system of balanced federal budgets and systematic debt reduction. My speech explaining these bills is being sent to Arizona newspapers and those constituents on my mailing list.
Since Congress reconvened on January 10 many Arizonans have come to Washington supporting and opposing various bills, and ironing out particular problems with federal departments and agencies. We had "Old Arizona Home Week" at the Supreme Court during the water case arguments, and I had a chance to visit with a large number of friends. Lynn Lockhart and D.A. Jerome from the Arizona Oil and Gas Commission along with Senator Ben Arnold met with Interior Department officials to discuss helium and oil problems; G.A. Pickering and Ed Torres, representing a group of Yuma farmers, were here trying to work out difficulties with the bracero program. To close out the week, Mrs. Udall and I attended a small intimate dinner at the D.C. Armory with President and Mrs. Kennedy. (I should probably mention that 6,000 other Democrats, including Mrs. Mildred Larson, our Democratic National Committeewoman, were in the same room.)
Yes, Congress is at work again; and we'll
have more of these reports as the session moves on.
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