The Congressman: His Work as He Sees It

The Congressman: His Work as He Sees It

The Congressman: His Work as He Sees It

The Congressman: His Work as He Sees It

Excerpt

A NEW MEMBER of the House of Representatives finds himself in a body where, in recent years, the average age at the beginning of each Congress has been around fifty-two, where slightly more than half of the membership are lawyers, nearly one-third have backgrounds in business or banking, another 10 percent have been teachers, and about the same percentage have been engaged in farming. Approximately three-fifths have served in the armed forces. The number of women House members reached a peak of fifteen in the Eighty-seventh Congress, dropping back to eleven in the Eighty-eighth.

When a member begins to get acquainted with his colleagues and with the House itself, he finds that the members are very much individuals, on the whole able, with varied strengths and interests, like himself anxious to succeed, but all compelled to function more or less in accordance with traditional rules of the game established over the years. The system gives little advantage to newcomers, innovators, independents, men in a hurry, or those who are not prepared to work.

Introducing the Freshman to Congress

Following his election to the House of Representatives a new member is forwarded a pamphlet entitled "Information for Representatives Elect." This document tells him of the procedure to be followed in the allocation of office suites, and supplies information regarding his salary and the congressional retirement system, as well as the clerk hire allotment at his disposal and how it may be distributed. It also sets forth the allowances available to him for travel, stationery, telephone and telegrams, stamps, and his district office. Yet it provides no guidance regarding the most important problems which immediately concern him: how to obtain a choice committee assignment, how to organize a superior staff, or what . . .

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