June 21. 1963
Arizona's Water Fight Shifts To Congress
The date of June 3, 1963 will surely rank as one of the great moments in Arizona's history. A wave of elation swept the state as the news of long-awaited victory in the Colorado River water suit came over the news tickers. But those who jumped to the conclusion that quick 1963 passage of the Central Arizona Project bill is in prospect are doomed to disappointment. This unpleasant fact should be stated and faced right now. With an all-out effort, some luck and statesmanship there is hope for action in 1964; passage this year, in my opinion, simply isn't in the cards.
In this report I'll explain why I make this statement. To understand the reasons let's take a sober, objective look at Congressional procedures and the obstacles and dangers immediately ahead.
HOUSE AND SENATE DIFFER
Senator Carl Hayden, who has been in Congress since statehood, has immense power and influence in the Senate. If this were the only battleground, a quick victory might occur. Senate passage in 1963 is certainly a possibility.
Unfortunately for us in this case, Congress has
two branches -- and all indications are that the major fight will occur
in the House of Representatives. Our three-man House team is in close and
frequent consultation, and each of us will have an important part to play:
COMMITTEES WIELD ENORMOUS POWER
All five members of the Arizona delegation introduced C.A.P. bills on June 4, the day after the Supreme Court's decision. But nothing is easier than introducing a bill in Congress. With a flip of the wrist, 10,000 or more will be introduced this year alone. Passage is another story: nine of every 10 bills introduced and referred to committee are never seen again.
One cannot overstate the importance of Congressional committees. The House of Representatives, to a large degree, is a collection of some 20 separate legislatures, each with its own special field of jurisdiction. Within that field, each committee has almost unlimited power. Though a majority of the House may favor a bill, there is no hope for full House debate or passage unless and until a majority of that committee can be persuaded to vote it out.
THE CAST OF CHARACTERS
The Congress is composed of 535 human beings, each with human feelings, prejudices, friendships and points of view often conditioned by the economic and political climates of the states they represent. In the months ahead Arizonans will be hearing much of the key figures in the House and Senate Interior Committees, to which the C.A.P. bills have been assigned. Of special importance are the committee chairmen. Bills opposed by a chairman rarely emerge from committee or pass on the floor. He controls the scheduling of hearings on legislation, and undecided members usually follow his lead. Republican strategy is set in committee by the senior (or "ranking") GOP member.
On the Senate side these are the most important
men in our water fight:
On the House side these are the main figures
who will play a part in determining the fate of our bill:
THE HOUSE INTERIOR COMMITTEE
The House Interior Committee is burdened with the heaviest workload of any committee in Congress. Of all bills introduced in the House, nearly 30% are referred to this committee for action.
As is often the case with Congressional committees, the 31-member committee is dominated by members from states which have special problems within its field of legislation. Of its 19 Democrats and 14 Republicans, all but six Democrats and five Republicans live west of the Mississippi. I am the only Arizonan, while California has two Democrats and two Republicans.
3.The Committee is generally favorable to reclamation, and a majority of its members have seen its benefits in their own districts. In recent years, however, such projects have met increasing resistance both in Committee and in the House itself, because:
THE IRRIGATION AND RECLAMATION SUBCOMMITTEE
"House Interior" has six subcommittees dealing with Parks, Territories, Public Lands, Mining, Indians, and Irrigation and Reclamation. Altogether the six subcommittees have just one hearing room in which to conduct their business. In most cases the subcommittee hearing is more important than full committee review. It is in the subcommittee that witnesses testify, major hearings are held, and the structure of the legislation takes shape. Thus Rep. Rogers' Irrigation Subcommittee will be the first and most significant arena for House consideration of C. A. P.
Further, our project is not the only reclamation bill before the Subcommittee; since January no less than 15 other projects have been proposed, and these bills now await action. In the six months since Congress convened Chairman Rogers has been unable to schedule any of them for hearings. This backlog could be one of our biggest problems. Needless to say, one cannot reasonably hope or assume that all pending business will be summarily set aside to give our bill immediate priority. Since January the Subcommittee has undertaken extensive hearings designed to clarify general standards and procedures for all future reclamation bills. Until this review is completed, no specific bills will be scheduled.
ROLE OF THE PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS
In the passage of any legislation the President and his executive departments play a vital and often determinative role. Any spending bill must pass the scrutiny of the Bureau of the Budget and be fitted into the overall budget of the Administration. The President himself must pass on a project of this size and determine that it squares with his long-term reclamation and water-conservation policies.
When a reclamation bill is introduced, the Interior Committee asks the Department of the Interior and its Bureau of Reclamation to evaluate it and report favorably or unfavorably on its merits. Few bills are ever passed, or even scheduled for hearings, until favorable reports have been received from each department and bureau involved.
The present Interior Secretary is an Arizonan, Stewart L. Udall. He is acutely aware of Arizona's water needs and will do everything humanly possible to help solve our problems. However, we should recognize that the Secretary is first and foremost the "right arm" and agent of the President on Interior matters. It is inconceivable that he or any Cabinet officer would take a position counter to the President on a major issue. The President and his Secretary of the. Interior must consider the interests of all 50 states in weighing our reclamation bill.
California, from which we have just won more than a million acre-feet of water a year, is the largest state in the nation. It has 40 electoral votes -- surely a choice prize in the 1964 Presidential election. One cannot assume that the President, as leader of the whole country (and as a practical political leader as well) will simply brush aside whatever arguments are made by Governor Brown and his 40-member Congressional delegation from California. We will need California votes in the House, and I am convinced we can get many of them if our strategy is one which does not unnecessarily antagonize that state, and one which will recognize that it has serious water problems too.
There is some reason to hope that a little patience and statesmanship on our part may soften or eliminate the opposition of reasonable Californians. We simply cannot afford to be arrogant or disinterested in the water shortage facing 10 million Southern California citizens.
THE TIME PROBLEM
One cannot say at this moment that we will have
the 219 House votes we'll need when the day of decision arrives. But the
vote can't come this year, in my judgment, because of these time
OTHER OBSTACLES AND PROBLEMS
Entirely apart from time factors, there are a
large number of loose and unresolved obstacles on the road to final House
passage. It seems to me that we should face these obstacles squarely and
state them now. Among them are these:
I am satisfied that the sound future growth and prosperity of Arizona depend largely upon construction of a Central Arizona Project which will bring water from the Colorado River to the farmlands and populous urban centers of the state. I am prepared to support any bill or get behind any strategy which will win. I have good relationships with all members of the Arizona delegation and Governor Fannin. I intend to consult with each of them and to work closely with them in resolving the problems outlined above.
Over the months ahead all of us here in Washington will need your support and your help in working out these difficulties and presenting our case in the strongest possible terms.
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