Congress Makes a Law: The Story behind the Employment Act of 1946

By Stephen Kemp Bailey | Go to book overview

Preface

When we shall have examined all its parts without sentiment, and gauged all its functions by the standards of practical common sense, we shall have established anew our right to the claim of political sagacity.

-- Woodrow Wilson, Congressional Government (13th ed., Boston, 1898), p. 333.*

ON JANUARY 22, 1945, three months before V-E Day and seven months before an atomic bomb ended a war and initiated an era, there was introduced on the floor of the United States Senate a bill numbered S-380. A year later, on February 20, 1946, President Harry S. Truman signed Public Law 304 of the 79th Congress.

Behind these dull facts there lies a dramatic story of the birth, growth, and metamorphosis of a public policy. For most Americans, the drama of Congressional policy-making is played behind closed curtains. It is much as though the citizenry were seated in a huge auditorium, allowed printed programs, but kept in almost total ignorance of what was happening on the stage. To the handful of citizens who have watched the show from the wings, this separation of players from audience is a dual tragedy: a tragedy for the players who might profit from audience reaction, a tragedy for the members of the audience who miss both entertainment and vitally needed education.

____________________
*
All quotations at the chapter openings are taken from this remarkable and still pertinent book which was first published in 1885.

-vii-

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