Legislative Branch

Guide to Senate Records: Chapter 5

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Chapter 5. Records of the Committee on Banking and Currency, 1913-1968

Records of Committees Relating to Banking and Currency, 1913-1988 from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States

Committee records discussed in this chapter:
Records of the Committee on Banking and Currency, 1947-1968

5.12 In 1947, the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency was responsible for legislation and other matters relating to banking and currency generally; financial aid to commerce and industry, other than matters relating to such aid that were specifically assigned to other committees; deposit insurance; public and private housing; the Federal Reserve System; gold and silver, including their coinage; issuance and redemption of notes; valuation and revaluation of the dollar; and control of prices of commodities, rents, and services. Since then, the jurisdiction of the committee has expanded to include economic stabilization and defense production, export and foreign trade promotion, export controls, Federal monetary policy, renegotiation of Government contracts, nursing home construction, and urban development and mass transit.

5.13 The committee has divided these diverse responsibilities among several subcommittees, but with few exceptions (such as Housing, Small Business, Financial Institutions, and certain investigative subcommittees), the records are not arranged by subcommittee but rather are incorporated into the files of the full committee.

Records of the Full Committee

5.14 Records documenting committee action on legislative proposals concerning the subjects within the purview of the committee are located in the series legislative case files ("accompanying papers"), 1947-68 (112 ft.). The records include copies of printed bills; amendments; committee prints, such as those comparing House and Senate versions of bills; correspondence, chiefly from appropriate Federal agencies commenting formally on proposed legislation; and hearing transcripts, including those of executive as well as public sessions. Often several bills on related subjects will be dealt with in a single hearing and, if so, each bill`s file contains a cross-reference to the legislative case file in which the hearing transcript can be found. Related to the legislative case files are printed Public Laws and bills, 1949-58 and 1963-68 (13 ft.), with related pages from the Congressional Record. This type of printed material is normally found within legislative case files, but not in the records of this committee.

5.15 In addition to those in legislative case files, transcripts of public hearings and executive sessions, 1947-68 (62 ft.), are also maintained as a separate series. Many of the transcripts document hearings of investigative subcommittees and include testimony on such matters as temporary regulation and control of consumer credit and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (both 80th Cong.), export controls (82d Cong.), a coffee price increase and Illinois banking problems (both 84th Cong.), among other subjects. Transcripts of standing subcommittee hearings and executive sessions relating to specific bills are also available here. For some Congresses, the transcripts are arranged by subject and thereunder chronologically; for others, the public transcripts and executive session transcripts are maintained separately and arranged chronologically within each group. Of a similar, but briefer, nature are minutes of executive sessions, 1947-53 (6 in., incl. 1 vol.), of the committee and several of its subcommittees.

5.16 The committee's general correspondence, 1947-68 (132 ft.), comprises a central subject file for banking, currency, housing, credit, small business, and international finance matters referred to or of interest to its chairman and members (115 ft.), and alphabetical and chronological reading files, consisting of copies of outgoing letters, 1949-68 (17 ft.).

5.17 Usually the Senate Banking and Currency Committee investigated problems by forming special investigative subcommittees. When the committee studied the 1954 rise in stock market prices, however, it did so as a full committee under Chairman J. William Fulbright's personal direction. The committee was concerned, in particular, with margin buying, speculation, proxy voting, investment advisors, large institutional investors such as pension funds, and with applying existing regulations to dealing in over-the-counter stocks. Records of the investigation of stock market prices, January-May 1955 (26 ft.), include correspondence; subject files; 1,200 replies to questionnaires sent to brokers, stock exchange officials, and economists; legislative files on Fulbright's bill, S. 2054, and Homer Capehart's proposal, S. 879; and summaries of hearings. Copies of the hearing transcripts are located in the hearing transcripts series described above, and most, if not all, were printed.

5.18 Presidential messages and executive communications referred to the committee, 1947-68 (19 ft.), consist of original Presidential messages and original or copies of executive agency reports prepared for Congress. Among the latter are statutorily mandated reports--such as annual reports of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Federal Housing Administration--as well as reports specifically requested by the Senate, such as the Federal Trade Commission's report on its investigation of coffee prices, June 30, 1954 (83d Cong.). For most Congresses, the records include a list of all documents referred to the committee. Petitions, memorials, and resolutions of State legislatures, 1947-68 (1 ft.), are among the papers referred to the committee.

5.19 Nomination files, 1947-64 (9 ft.), consist chiefly of transcripts of hearings on the President's nominees to certain positions in the Department of the Treasury, housing agencies, credit boards, and the Federal Reserve Board. The files also may include nomination reference and report forms, brief biographies, and correspondence relating to the nomination. Among the largest of these files are those of Thomas Bayard McCabe, nominated to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (80th Cong.), and of Robert Weaver, nominated to be administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency (87th Cong.).

5.20 The records of the committee also include confidential administrative and financial records, 1953-68 (9 ft.), consisting principally of expense vouchers of various investigative subcommittees, office personnel records, and notices of committee meetings.

Records of Subcommittees

5.21 There are independent series of records of three standing subcommittees and four investigative subcommittees of the Banking and Currency Committee. While the committee has completed many such investigations, the records of only these four, one in the 80th Congress and three in the 83d Congress, have been preserved as distinct series. Records of these investigations also appear in the hearings transcripts and administrative records described above. Records of other such investigative subcommittees may also appear among the records of the full committee.

Subcommittee on Housing (and Urban Affairs)

5.22 The Housing Subcommittee's general correspondence, 1957-68 (46 ft.), is arranged by subject and includes alphabetical and chronological reading files (85th-90th Congresses). In addition, there are fragments relating to S. 2246, 81st Cong., which became the Housing Act of 1949, and to Alaskan housing, 1954. John Sparkman of Arkansas was chairman of the subcommittee, 1957-68.

Subcommittee on Small Business

5.23 Records of the subcommittee maintained separately from the records of the full committee include general correspondence, 1949-50 (5 in.), accumulated during the chairmanship of Burnet R. Maybank of South Carolina, and legislative case files, 1958-68 (6ft.), during the chairmanships of Joseph S. Clark of Pennsylvania (1958), William Proxmire of Wisconsin (1959-66), and Thomas J. McIntyre of New Hampshire (1967-68).

Subcommittee on Financial Institutions

5.24 The records of the Financial Institutions Subcommittee include truth-in-lending research files, 1963-68 (12 ft.), which consist of subject files of correspondence with prospective witnesses, newsclippings, and hearing statements; staff memorandums and notes; and materials assembled in preparation for hearings and conference committees. The files document the efforts of Senators Paul Douglas, a member of the subcommittee, and William Proxmire, chairman (1967-68), to obtain a Federal law regulating the consumer credit industry, culminating in the enactment of S. 5, the Consumer Credit Protection Act of 1968 (Public Law 90-321).

Subcommittee to Investigate Operations of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) and Its Subsidiaries

5.25 The records, June 1947-May 1948 (6 ft.), document the first postwar inquiry into the continued viability and need for the RFC. The resolutions to undertake the investigation (S. Res. 132 and S. Res. 203, 80th Cong.) were introduced by Clayton D. Buck, who chaired the subcommittee. The records include staff reports, correspondence with Government agencies, material relating to questionnaires sent to banks and RFC loan agency advisory committees, case studies of particular loans, and administrative records of the subcommittee. The subcommittee recommended that the RFC be extended for 8 years.

Subcommittee to Investigate the Export-Import Bank and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)

5.26 Pursuant to S. Res. 25 and S. Res. 183, 83d Cong., which were introduced by Homer Capehart for himself and Senator Burnet R. Maybank, the Senate established and then continued an investigation of the curtailment of Export-Import Bank operations. The resolution was amended to expand the study to include the IBRD and the relationship of these two institutions to the expansion of international trade. Capehart and four colleagues toured 15 Latin American countries and upon their return held hearings and introduced S. 3589 to make the Export-Import Bank more aggressive in promoting international trade. The records, 1953-54 (9 ft.), include some correspondence and material relating to the trip to Latin America and the hearings, but most are copies of publications accumulated for reference purposes. The hearing transcripts are located in the hearing transcripts for the 83d Congress.

Subcommittee to Investigate Coffee Prices

5.27 Pursuant to S. Res. 195, 83rd Cong., an investigation was initiated by Senator J. Glenn Beall of Maryland to ascertain if the coffee market was being manipulated by the Coffee and Sugar Exchange to produce the rapid rise in coffee prices during 1953. The records, January-October 1954 (3ft.) include correspondence, copies of hearing transcripts, and reference material; additional hearing transcripts and administrative records are located in those respective series.

Subcommittee to Investigate the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

5.28 The most detailed documentation of any of the post-World War II investigations between 1947 and 1968 is in the records, April-December 1954 (53 ft.) of this subcommittee. Senator Capehart introduced S. Res. 229, 83rd Cong., following charges of racketeering in the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) home repair loan insurance program and potential illegal or unethical actions in the FHA Section 608 rental housing insurance program. The charges and subsequent investigation led to the firing of several FHA managers and uncovered substantial windfall profits to developers and builders. The records include hearing transcripts, including many "special interviews" conducted in executive session: two incomplete correspondence files arranged by subject and by name of witness; copes of FHA mortgage insurance case files on the projects investigated; and miscellaneous material. The records are poorly organized, and duplication exists. Again, the hearing transcripts and administrative records series contain additional records of this subcommittee.

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Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States Senate at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-42). By Robert W. Coren, Mary Rephlo, David Kepley, and Charles South. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989.