Another year has rolled aroundâ€”1935. And so has another session of Congress. The Seventy-fourth Congress is now in action. The boys and girls are just getting started. Soon things on Capitol Hill will be going full blast. This session promises to be an extremely interesting one.
Very few indeed are the new faces on Capitol Hill. The last election, it will be recalled, was a Democratic landslide with but few changes. The Seventy fourth Congress has eleven Jewish members. These are Representatives Adolph J. Sabath, of Illinois; Florence P. Kahn, of California; Herman P. Koppelmann, of Connecticut; William M. Citron, of Connecticut; William I. Sirovich, of New York; Emanuel Celler, of New York; Samuel Dickstein, of New York; Isaac Bacharach, of New Jersey; Henry Ellenbogen, of Pennsylvania; Sol Bloom, of New York, and Theodore A. Peyser, of New York.
Of all the Jewish members of Congress, Representative Citron is a newcomer. He is serving as representative-at-large from Connecticut. His interest is along lines of social legislation, favoring old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.
Representative Sabath is dean of the House, having served for twenty-eight consecutive years. He was a candidate for majority leader of the House, received the unanimous support of the Illinois delegation and a few other votes, but was defeated for the post by Representative Bankhead, of Alabama. Sabath enjoyed the distinctive honor, however, of swearing into the office of Speaker, Representative Joe Byrns, of Tennessee. The honor went to him by virtue of his long service as a House member.
A total of 198 days elapsed from the adjournment of the Seventy-third Congress on June 18 to the assembling of the Seventy-fourth Congress on January 3. During this interval the Federal Government held the spotlight through its drive for economic recovery and social security.
Congressional investigations received their share of public attention, however. The Senate munitions inquiry on September 6 disclosed documentary charges that Germans had honeycombed small European nations with camouflaged plants to maintain Germany’s position as a submarine power, in spite of the Versailles Treaty Eleven days later, the committee obtained evidence that Germany was proceeding to build up a military air force and increasing home production of planes in spite of treaty restrictions. Engines and airplane equipment had been bought by Germany “for commercial purposes” from the United States and other countries, the inquiry revealed.
The McCormack committee investigating un-American activities uncovered various “plots” which sought the overthrow of this country’s form of government. The committee’s investigation delved into the activities of Nazis, Communists, Fascists and other groups. A considerable amount of the propaganda disseminated by these bodies is of foreign origin, the investigation revealed.
The State Department was quite occupied in handling delicate situations. A large number of the State Department’s activities concerned relationships with the German government.
Secretary of State Hull, in a note to the German government on June 28, blamed Nazi policies for Germany’s financial plight which culminated in suspension of foreign debt service on July 1. Another communication on July 16 demanded that the German government give American holders of German bonds the same treatment accorded to bondholders in other countries. Secretary Hull said the United States refused to permit this treatment to be made contingent upon “trade concessions, clearing arrangements or similar measures.”
On October 13, the German Embassy at Washington delivered notes to the State Department concerning foreign trade and foreign relations. Dr. Hans Luther, German Ambassador, served notice on the State Department that his government intended to terminate the trade treaty between Germany and the United States. This treaty contains a most-favored-nation clause, the provisions of which Germany maintained she could not abide by. At the same time formal announcement was made of a plan whereby American holders of Dawes Plan bonds would receive only about seventy-five per cent of interest due them on October 15.
Secretary Hull continued his drive against discrimination by the German government On November 24 he sent a note to that government protesting the Reich’s treatment of American creditors and asked for an early end of this discrimination.
The death knell of the cotton barter agreement with Germany, proposed by George N. Peek, foreign trade advisor to President Roosevelt and head of the Export-Import Bank, was sounded on December 10. This was done by Secretary Hull in an address at Nashville, Tenn., when he said that the United States “is clinging steadfastly to the most-favored-nation policy as nearly as possible in its unconditional form.
“To do otherwise would be to eat our own words, condemning the German government for violating the doctrine of equality of treatment with respect to debts due our nationals and, in brief, to reserve our entire attitude of complaint against discriminations to many countries.”
Members of the McCormack committee are considering the possibility of asking the new Congress for additional funds with which to continue the investigation. Indications are that the committee would like to dig deeper into Communistic propaganda activities.
Congressional sanction will be sought by the committee for enlargement of the Justice Department’s division of investigation so that the department’s agents can devote more time to investigating and exposing subversive groups and individuals who plot against the government. The report which the committee is writing for early submission to Congress is expected to include definite recommendations to amend interstate commerce laws to prohibit transportation of publications and circulars which advocate revolutionary activities.