The Center for Legislative Archives

Research Interview Notes of Richard F. Fenno, Jr. with Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1959-1965



Interview Notes Index

Access to this interview is subject to the deed of gift of December 14, 1993.


Interview with Rep. Daniel J. Flood (D-PA)
May 29, 1959

General remarks -- expansive, cooperative -- almost boastful -- independent -- concentrating on a role as investigator -- freewheeling behavior on the Committee.

Why on the Committee? "I didn't. When I came here I was on the Foreign Affairs Committee and was very happy. Foreign affairs is my metier. In my first year Synder of Pennsylvania who was on the Appropriations Committee died" -- This meant there was no Pennsylvania representative on the Committee on the Democratic side -- "I represent the great state of Pennsylvania and the members of the Pennsylvania delegation wanted to have a representative on that committee. The leadership spoke to me and the members of the delegation spoke to me. They felt that since Pennsylvania was a large state and had had a man on the committee before that Pennsylvania could get it if an acceptable person could be found. I said I would go on the Committee if I could be on the subcommittee dealing with the state department. I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. The leadership called back and said that could be arranged. They consulted whoever you consult about such things and I found myself on the Appropriations Committee. Actually it wasn't that easy. There was a lot of pulling and hauling since several state and regional groups were vieing for the post".

"There are three houses of Congress -- the Senate, the House, and the Appropriations Committee".

Regarding the attitudes of the other members -- they see appropriations as a necessary evil -- "on a secret balot they beat our brains out every time; but on a roll call vote they don't dare".

"When the Defense Subcommittee was set up Mr. Cannon called me and said they wanted someone on the committee who knew something about foreign affairs so I changed my subcommittee. They probably looked around and saw that the whole membership was from the South and wanted to put one Northener on the committee -- in case there was another Civil War. I'm not a damn yankee, just a yankee since I was brought up in St. Augustine".

In subcommittee hearings -- "I follow my own line of questioning. I don't give a good *** *** what the leadership says. Nobody tells me what the policy is. I do as I please. Nobody gives me questions to ask. When I get a withass it's every man for himself. The witness is mine".

"It's an ex parte proceeding and I have been a prosecutor before" -- he was Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania.

"My particular talent is for cross examination. Of course, I was on the stage for a number of years and you get a flare for such things. You develop an atmosphere through questioning. A lot of members have their staffs prepare questions. I don't have any staff prepare mine. I keep a file during the year. When January rolls around I have a lot of things I want to inquire about. A lot of people just read off questions prepared for them. I pursue an independent line of questioning. After a while you develop a reputation and people begin to send you things so you get a lot of hardware.

He referred to himself as a Maverick -- as being independent etc. He was obviously not a team player.

On learning the ropes -- "You don't. By the time you get on the Appropriations Committee you're not supposed to be an amateur, you're supposed to be a SOB in your own right. That's the idea of waiting around for a while".

Regarding the Senate and the House -- "The House is the more conservative body" -- he noted along with several others that the tables have been reversed since the founding fathers. "the House has more quality". The Senate doesn't have time for detailed consideration of appropriations bills -- Senators sit on two committees and they spread themselves thin "You get Senator Ellender talking about defense and he doesn't know blank, *** *** *** *** but on agriculture he could write the book".

On the Conference Committee: "Just a lot of horse trading and compromise and split the difference" -- "the man who excels in this committee is the man with a genius for compromise".

Regarding fat: "Of course there is. If we appropriated money for all the *** *** projects that are sent up here we wouldn't have any government" -- with respect to padding "you get into a little game here".

He is sore at the Budget Bureau for "arrogating unto itself more power than it should have" -- he wants to addopt a legislative budget and throw out, the Budget Bureau as it now operates.

With respect to bureau success and failure he speaks of "the human element" and "the human equation -- not very good on this question -- .

He doesn't seem to see his role as getting things for his constituents -- yet that is why he was put on -- he does speak of his district as a mixture of different peoples, mostly Baltic, Central and Southern European.

The subcommittee goes through the budget "Item by item beginning with page 1" -- anyone who wants to offer an amendment does so and if you are defeated (he seemed to see himself and the defense budget here) you reserve your right to object in the full committee and go on to the next item.

The money amounts seem to him to be "simple mathematics" -- "you know what each soldier costs, you know how many you want -- simple mathematics". Yet he did say with respect to appropriations figures "there 's a rounding off element involved".
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