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Joseph Keller

Portrait of New Congress

(10 January 1949)

From The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 2, 10 January 1949, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Although the 81st Congress when it convened Jan. 3 had many new faces, its general complexion was as reactionary as ever. If you want to know what interests this so-called “liberalized” Congress really represents, you need only study the composition of its membership – and we don’t mean merely their party affiliations.

Of the 521 men and women in Congress, there are 301 lawyers – a 58% majority – most of them practitioners in the field of corporation and business law. There are 68 businessmen and 13 bankers. Another 33 are classified as farmers, which covers rich ranch owners, “country gentlemen” who live on big landed estates, factory-farm operators, tenant and sharecrop farm landlords, cotton plantation owners, etc. Most, if not all, of the 415 law-makers in the above categories are obviously directly tied by occupation and previous sources of income to the profit interests.

That leaves 106 who aren’t listed as lawyers, businessmen, bankers or landowners. Of the 106, 35 are listed as “politicians and civil servants,” which means they customarily make their living as professional functionaries of the Republican or Democratic parties or on government payrolls. Another 31 are designated as “teachers” – not generally to be counted on the side of labor if we. can go by the testimony of college professors before recent Congressional hearings.

There are several unionists in the new Congress, who presumably are listed among the 40 designated as “miscellaneous.”

Thus, the new Congress, like its predecessors, is made up overwhelmingly of individuals who reflect the ideology of capitalism and who unquestionably put capitalist interests first and foremost.

A majority of the members of Congress are aged time-servers. Because of the “seniority” governing appointment of heads of the powerful committees, most of the committee chairmen in both the House and Senate will be vintaged politicos – mainly Southern Democrats – more than 70 years old. Venerable reaction will draft and steer most of the legislation before Congress – and scuttle progressive measures by devious technicalities.

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