Business Before Congress (72nd Congress, 1st Session)

November 25, 1931

Report Outline
Party Divisions in the New Congress
The Federal Budget, New Taxes, and the Tariff
Foreign Relations and National Defense
Legislative Proposals Resulting from the Depression
Railroad Problems and Regulatory Legislation
Prohibition and Law Enforcement
Muscle Shoals and Other Recurrent Measures

Party Divisions in the New Congress

The 72nd Congress, elected in November 1930, will meet for its first session on December 7, 1931. This will be the long session of the Congress, the date of adjournment depending upon the state of legislative business. In as much as 1932 is the year of a presidential campaign, however, it is virtually certain that the session will be concluded in advance of the national nominating conventions in June.

Conditions growing out of the two-year depression in industry and political considerations bearing upon the forthcoming election will dominate the course of legislation throughout the session. President Hoover resisted demands that he call a special session of the new Congress during the summer or autumn months to deal with unemployment and other problems connected with the depression, and in the meantime the volume of proposals touching these questions grew steadily. The administration itself will submit plans designed to better present conditions for legislative approval, and Congress and its committees will be called upon to consider any number of suggestions of like intent from individual members. Action will be complicated by the political complexion of the new Congress, the Democrats now having a majority in the House of Representatives and the Progressive group holding a balance of power in the Senate.

Important questions to be considered by the Congress include proposals for higher income and estate taxes and the levying of sales taxes to care for the mounting federal deficit, the Hoover war debt-reparation moratorium, plans for additional unemployment and agricultural relief, broadening the rediscount provisions of the Federal Reserve Act, creation of a new system of home loan discount banks, and authorization of new naval construction. In addition there is likely to be debate on tariff reduction and revision of the flexible tariff system, national economic planning, amendment of the anti-trust laws, and on measures for the regulation of buses, reduction of the working hours of railroad employees, regulation of short selling, amendment of the prohibition statutes, embargoes against imports from Soviet Russia, Philippine independence, and numerous other matters of varying importance.

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