they were not accustomed to having a
maverick among them. It might be observed that thev neither claim me nor
disown me; and this relationship I
understand. \o one wants insincere
friendship. I recognize and understand
how men of differing ideological beliefs
can maintain a respectful relationship —
and that the area of disagreement is
often greater within a party than between parties. There's the real dilemma.
Among my Texas colleagues I soon recognized manv kindred beliefs and thai
I was closer to some, ideologically, than
they were to each other. I was learning
Anyway. I was far from overlooked.
In addition to the Texas Delegation, the
84th Club (freshmen Republican congressmen) elected me their vice-president —- the Texas State Society provided
the camaraderie of the many Texans in
Washington the athletes of Congress,
in the paddle hall group, welcomed tin-
newcomer —- the S.O.S. group of Young
Republicans in Congress extended membership. Very important to me became
the Prayer (.roup — congressmen and
women who met each Thursday for
hreakfast and to -hare spiritual beliefs
Of course. I got lost in the Capitol!
Particularly embarrassing was the time
I nonchalantly acknowledged a guard's
greeting, and confidently strode past him
down what he must have known to be a
Parliamentary procedure was bewil-
dering at first —■ "The gentleman from
Texas." "1 thank the gentleman" being
customary expressions. One must be
"recognized" before being privileged to
-peak - - being recognized sometimes
appeared to require adroit maneuvering.
sometimes just plain shouting the loudest! The most gracious accolade of one
member for another is generally the prelude to attack. A congressman might say,
for example. "The gentleman from New
York, my longtime colleague and
esteemed friend, for whom I have t hi< -
utmost regard and affection, and whose
integrity is unquestioned," and then cul
him to ribbons with big words and questionable logic.
The decorum, or lack of it. on the
House floor was surprising. As debate
goes on, members walk about, confer
with each other, read, write. I even sleep
in the cloakroom), but the man who has
the floor goes on undisturbed, until
someone protests, "Mr. Speaker, the
House is not in order." Often I sensed
the spectators in the gallery were
puzzled, even disappointed, to see the
milling around, lark of order, or even
on occasion the reduced number of representatives present. \\ hen some member objects on the grounds uf a quorum
not being present, the Speaker counts
noses and if less than half the IV) are
present, the assembly bells are rung and
the congressmen reassemble to answer
the roll call. I decided to be present on
the floor as much as possible in order to
learn the s\stem more quickly — even
though I realized all too well the many
reasons for being elsewhere, mainly in
my office to answer mail, attend to
"case" work, the problems of people
back home needing federal help, and to
Indeed I was puzzled by the simultaneous meeting of the committees (and
all members behmg to at least one committee) and the House itself. No man
ran be in two places at once.
How was 1 to know the facts on the
issues being debated if not present on
the House Boor? lhe answer is, the
Member ol Congress learns to be responsible lor accomplishing two things al
once. It takes some tall hustling for a
freshman to become adjusted to this feature — where he must know what is
going oti simultaneously in two places.
Main is the time we'd hurry from thr
committee hearing to the floor to east a
vote and then return to committee meeting. Alphabetically as an "\." Im
among the first to vote — this only increases the rush. Nevertheless, 1 was
determined that mv attendance record
would be a good one.
MASTERING THE SYSTEM
I also learned that the importance of
each Member of Congress is maintained
sometime-- in odd ways, lor example, in
parliamentary procedure "unanimous
consent*1 is often required before floor
action can proceed, so it is possible for
one member to block normal operation.
Thus, each member must respeel the
others whose cooperation will be needed
as Congress deliberates. The Members
of Congress get prompt attention b) the
Various government bureaus, and I
found that the courteous efforts of mv
Staff and me. insistent onh when necessary, resulted in our getting information
when needed from various agencies of
In brief, whereas at first the system
of governmenl seemed almost crazy, I
soon regained respeel lor the operation
— it even permit- individuals to "let off
■-team" at each other without upsetting
the boat. 1 learned there were reasons
for the odd and unexpected formalities
of pro.i-dure. It is apparent that first an
M.C. must master the system and then
make it work for him. even as he work-
to do his job. One senior congressman
i- kidded about alwa\ - cam ing a "preferential motion" in his pocket. Thi- i-
just a legitimate wa\ in which to get
five minutes' time to talk when other
means have failed. \- in every other
business there are "link- to the trade."
Other first impressions include the
apparent conspirac) against lunch
the House meets at noon and lln'(|M.
mittees meet in the morning, at ]PX
until noon. In the House, a nA (■
cant eat without leaving the floor* ro|
nearest solution is to have a quick'],,,
wich in the cloakroom, just ofl the|.,m,
of the House. fan
Then, there"- the Washington^ ,■
whirl, and congressmen receive ''"re-
invitations to "whirl" at will. Well- ,'.
I an exhibil ? Was I to "represent^--},
district at these, too? Soon this prof
resolved ilsell as I realized I coi ■
burn the candle at both end-. I A'':
were my onl) time to study and -Lnoi
with mv family. We went out onlv hie.
constituents were a part of the gatMld
"VOTING ONE'S CONVICTION lu
Soon my baptism in natioi
local interest came in the debaW hi
vote on reciprocal trade. In hroaoints.
eiple I agreed with the ['resident \i- \
on reciprocal trade. However. I -tern
tin- concern of my District
heavy import of foreign oil and I *pe
an amendment to restrict su< I
Hut the Holes (lommittee propo&oi
"closed rule" on this bill, which Che
permit no amendments to the m*-'* ui
This so-called gagging of coi
from -peaking out in open debate 're-t
However, I realized that hundrffcs I
other industries wanted In anid" ' "
bill, hence the reason for the rul^t a
tainK I did not want to vote for '-ike
w ithoiit learning the facts c
the effect lower tariff- would ha
American industries. Neither did I 'I1"
lo kill the trade bill by adding hil* h
of crippling amendments. ieali/i"' 'ai
our allies economic- and our '>f ;* ']
tied in with it. a- |>->
continuing program not quickh ln'
set a-ide. Yet I felt that the "peril I' ■ ■
and "escape clause" provisioi
he strengthened, to protect those J '"!
can industries genuinely threatened1" ^
was the first dilemma where I
conflict of national and local int< ' l!l
and I learned the meaning ol T"
one- com ictions,"
So it was. too, that I learned thajF'.1
lative issues are seldom clear-cut. •", .''
is a bill all good or all bad - - bl* "'
white. Mom* often it"- a shad. "' "' '
somewhere between either extrefl1'
ways it seem- complicated and the J
become- muddied quickly w ben [" '''
sive arguments on both side
-enieil. Somehoyv, \ ou must get
heart of the matter.
Then I realized lhe truth of wh^11,1,
eral members had told me. "W *'
have time to studv the issues." T^
seemed incoiicch able lhal lln
of the nation's highest legislative,
would vote withoul knowing ■''',,
Yet true il i-. for many. 1
nights and weekends, desperate t°
Later in retrospect, I thoughl ab°V
Facts Forum News, January,