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. William E. Minshall (R-OH)
June 4, 1959
General remarks: Rather curt and self-assured.
"Members of the committee get along very well together. There's an esprit de corps, a comradeship. We may have heated debates, but it's like a lawyer trying a case. When it's over, we walk out of there, arm in arm." And this coming from a man who had just engaged in one such debate in committee and on the floor, i.e., Bomarc.
He stressed, "They have a common body of knowledge that other members of the Congress don't have. . . . The men on that
subcommittee know more about defense problems than any men in the government, except a few experts."
He is "amazed" at the lack of partisanship on subcommittees. No party votes, he said.
Regarding people getting more conservative on the committee: "In my case, I couldn't get any more conservative than I am. I was the seventh most economy-minded representative in the 84th Congress according to CQ [Congressional Quarterly]."
Why on the committee? A prestige committee--"Naturally, you want to do as much to help the people in the district you represent as you can." He was on Government Operations, and he stresses that all legislation passes through the Appropriations Committee. Furthermore (and this relates to his other statement), "When you are interested in something, any Appropriations subcommittee will listen to you a lot more, if you are a member of the committee than if you're not."
How get on committee? He got the support of New York and other large states. Cliff Clevenger (R-OH) had been on the committee, and he retired, "so there was a slot there for me"--even though there were two from Ohio, he and Frank T. Bow (R).
Other members are "envious" of the Appropriations Committee's prestige.
His subcommittee chairman was very fair, and he was given as much chance to speak as the old timers--"Of course, they had things under control. After all, I've only been on the subcommittee three months, and some of them have been on it for fifteen or twenty years." He noted, too, that "many times, the older men stuck together on votes in the subcommittee."
Regarding Bormarc: "I suppose you should be a good soldier and go along with the committee, but I felt so strongly about this that I had to speak out." He attended the hearings, he said, without prejudice and became convinced that "two billion of the taxpayer money is being wasted."
He gets no information from inside sources.
Said he had to change his office schedule after he got on Appropriations, because he had to work such long hours--his staff's schedule is now staggered, one girl comes in very early, and another comes in later and stays later. A variation on the effects of the "hard working committee."