Oral History Interview with
Dr. Grover W. Ensley
Fiscal analyst, U.S. Bureau of the Budget, 1941-47; technical adviser, Senator Ralph Flanders, 1947-49; executive director, Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress, 1949-57.
October 7, 1977
by James R. Fuchs
See also Grover W. Ensley Papers finding
See also Grover W. Ensley Oral History, by Richard A. Baker of the Senate Historial Office.
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate
the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened December, 1979
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
Dr. Grover W. Ensley
October 7, 1977
by James R. Fuchs
FUCHS: Mr. Ensley, to start would you give a short resume of your background;
when and where you were born, and your educational background, and how
your career went until you reached the Government part of it?
ENSLEY: All right. I was born on a wheat ranch in eastern Washington
-- that's Washington State -- in 1915. I rode a horse four miles to a
one-room elementary school. I went through high school in Colfax, Washington
and then worked my way through the University of Washington during the
depression 1933-38, receiving first a
bachelor of arts degree, a master of business administration degree, and
finally a five-year certificate in Government service. I was trained for
the public service. I went from Seattle to the University of Denver under
a Sloan scholarship and where I, in 18 months, received another master's
degree in Government management in 1940. It was at the University of Denver
that I met my future wife, Creta Mabie.
FUCHS: Government was more your major than economics, then?
ENSLEY: Yes. Upon completing my work at the University of Denver, I went
to Tax Foundation in New York City, where I worked on government budgeting
problems. I attended New York University, in evenings. I eventually received
my Ph.D. in economics, studying under Dr. Paul Studenski. The degree was
awarded in 1947. In the spring of 1941 I was invited to go to
Washington for an interview at the Treasury Department, Debt Management
Division. But while in Washington for the interview I went to see Donald
Stone at the Bureau of the Budget, who I had known earlier. He was Assistant
Director for Administrative Management. Knowing my academic background,
and experience, he sent me to see Weldon Jones who was Assistant Director
of the Fiscal Division of the Bureau. I was impressed with the Division
and its leadership and I accepted a position as a fiscal analyst.
These were the days before the Council of Economic Advisers and
other White House apparatus that has since been created to help coordinate
and assist the President in formulating economic policy. I worked at the
Budget Bureau until I went into the service late in the war.
I suppose my most interesting experience while at the Bureau of the Budget,
was in the spring of 1942. Roosevelt was the President,
of course, and we were experiencing substantial inflation with shortages
and rising income. There was no coordinated anti-inflation machinery or
program. I'll never forget, Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau went
to Congress and advocated a harness of direct controls -- price and wage
controls, rationing, and so forth. The next day, Leon Henderson, who was
in charge of war allocations, testified that the way to stop inflation
was to have tax increases. Well, that hit me as rather ironic, as a junior
So, that weekend I wrote a one and a half page memorandum on the need
for a coordinated stabilization program coming down from the very top,
from the President. I brought it in and circulated it to the senior people
at the Bureau of the Budget. The memorandum recommended that the President
appoint a committee to develop a comprehensive stabilization program.
In those days you didn't send President Roosevelt anything
longer than a page and a quarter memorandum. You could attach all you
wanted to it, but in terms of what you wanted him to read, a page and
a quarter was it. After some editing the memorandum was sent to the President
over the signature of Harold Smith, the Director of the Bureau of the
Budget. The very next day, the same memorandum came back with a handwritten
note: “Okay. Work fast. FDR."
It gave Smith the authority to call in Henry Wallace, who was then the
Vice President, and the other people that we had suggested to have on
this committee. Out of it came the appointment by Roosevelt of Jimmy Byrnes
who was brought off the Supreme Court to head this stabilization program.
I'm very proud of that memorandum.
FUCHS: You did that on your own?
ENSLEY: Yes, I initiated the memorandum. As a young, green economist
without knowing much about
protocol or anything else; I just wrote it and brought it in, and Gerhard
Colm and other colleagues of mine at the Budget Bureau brushed it up and
we worked pretty hard on it for one or two days before Harold Smith sent
it to Roosevelt. But it was just at the right time and it did bring about
a comprehensive stabilization program.
In 1944 I went. into the service as a naval officer. Just before I went
into the service, the Pabst Brewing Company was celebrating its hundredth
anniversary. During the war there was considerable discussion of the prospect
of postwar unemployment. There was a general feeling that once the war
was over we would revert back to the type of under-employment and under-utilization
of resources that we had all during the 1930s. The Pabst Brewing Company,
as an advertising gimmick in connection with their hundredth anniversary
created 17 prizes for the best postwar employment plans. The first prize
was $25,000, the second
prize was $15,000 and then 15 $1,000 prizes. I went home one evening and
wrote a brief essay on how we could achieve and maintain reasonably full
employment and stability after the war, and submitted it.
About a month later, I received a call from a public relations agency
wanting to take my picture. I found that about twelve other people in
Washington had also received calls, including Leon Keyserling, who later
became chairman of President Truman's Council of Economic Advisers; and
Herbert Stein who was with the War Production Board, and later became
Nixon's chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Out of the 17 potential
winners, about 12 were located in Washington. Of course, for about ten
days the big question was, who was going to win the $25,000 and who the
$15,000 and who the $1,000.
Well, to make a long story short, Herb
Stein won the $25,000, Leon Keyserling the $15,000 and the rest of us
received $1,000 prizes. A volume of the winning essays was published.
I mention this only because it indicated the intense interest on the
part of responsible Americans, during the war, to start planning then
for a better America after the war.
FUCHS: Do you recall the year of that contest?
ENSLEY: The spring of 1944.
FUCHS: What were your days like, as a fiscal analyst in the Bureau of
ENSLEY: My chief job in the Budget Bureau was to analyze trends in defense
expenditures and their impact upon the economy. We talked about and tried
to measure the inflationary gap that was developing as a result of rapidly
accelerating war expenditures. I thought at the time that we should have
had higher taxes to reduce inflationary
pressures. I'll come back to this World War II tax deficiency when we
get into the Korean war. Fiscal policies were much more intelligently
managed in the Korean war. I think that was, in part, because of President
Truman's experience as Chairman of the Senate Committee during World War
You'll recall, President Truman made his name in World War II when he
was Chairman of a special committee on defense expenditures. He watched
not just the waste that there might be -- and there was plenty as there
always are wastes in war -- but also the overall magnitudes and the implications
of those magnitudes for the economy.
As I mentioned earlier I went into the Navy and served on Guam during
the last days of the war. I came back with a doctoral dissertation nearly
written. It called for an effective national employment program. I was
pleased, when I returned in the spring of 1946, to find that
on February the 20th, President Truman had signed the Employment Act of
FUCHS: When did you say you returned?
ENSLEY: I came back to the Budget Bureau in April of 1946.
FUCHS: He called for this, I believe in his 21-point message to Congress.
ENSLEY: I believe in '45. Jumping ahead 20 years, on the occasion of
the 20th anniversary of the Employment Act, the Congress and the White
House made me Chairman of a special committee to commemorate the 20th
anniversary of the Act. We had three Presidents still living in 1966 --
Truman, Eisenhower, and of course, Johnson. I got a very nice letter from
Truman, who was not in a position to come to the big celebration that
we had in Washington.
FUCHS: How did that come about? You were no longer
with the Government then.
ENSLEY: No, I was with the savings bank industry in 1966, but Congressman
[Wright] Patman was Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee and he remembered
me from the days when I was with the Joint Economic Committee. I was rather
close to Gardner Ackley who was Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
under [Lyndon Baines] Johnson. I wrote a letter to both of them, oh, a
year before and said, "Look, we should do something rather substantial
on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the signing of that act on
It ended up, as I say, with them making me chairman of a small committee
to put on that commemorative program. I think it was the first time in
history that a non-member of Congress presided over what were, in effect,
congressional proceedings. But that is getting ahead of our story.
When I returned to the Budget Bureau in the spring of 1946, it became
clear to me that the action in the Budget Bureau was not going to be as
interesting to me as it was in the past, because there had been created
a Council of Economic Advisers -- in the Executive Office under the Employment
Act of 1946 to take over much of the work of the old Fiscal Division of
FUCHS: Did you think that the Council of Economic Advisers, which of
course, was instituted by the Employment Act, was a good idea?
ENSLEY: Oh, absolutely. And its counterpart on the Hill was the Joint
Economic Committee, seven Congressmen and seven Senators. The Committee
didn't get organized in 1946. It wasn't organized till January of '47,
and in the election of '46, you will recall, the Republicans won.
In the fall of 1946 President Truman appointed Senator [Warren Robinson]
Austin of Vermont, a great Senator, to be our first Ambassador to the
United Nations, creating a vacancy in the Senate from Vermont.
Senator [Ralph E.] Flanders, a Republican, was appointed by the Governor
of Vermont to fill out the remaining two months term of Senator Austin.
He was then elected to a full six year term in November of 1946. He didn't
know me from Adam but he did contact some people in Washington. He had
been active in the Committee for Economic Development, and he wanted a
young man that understood Washington to be his assistant. I was approached
by the Executive Director of the CED who arranged a visit with Flanders.
Economic Policy action appeared to be moving towards the Council of Economic
Advisers and to the Joint Economic Committee and since Flanders was being
appointed to the Joint Economic
Committee, I accepted the appointment offered me by Senator Flanders.
FUCHS: Who recommended you?
ENSLEY: Howard Myers, who was the Executive Director of the Committee
for Economic Development, recommended to Senator Flanders that I was the
person he should get. Well, I left the Budget Bureau just after completing
the budget at Christmastime in 1946, and was on hand when Congress met
in January of 1947.
Now, Truman was President. You know how you proceed on the Hill. You
have certain missions. One of my missions was to increase the pay of top
Government officials. I hadn't done a great deal of work on compensation
because that was handled in a different division of the Budget Bureau.
But when I moved to the Hill I found that Senator Flanders was equally
impressed with the necessity of breaking this
old $10,000 salary ceiling. Flanders was appointed to the Post Office
and Civil Service Committee in addition to the Joint Economic Committee
and the Banking Committee. Those were his three committees. I prevailed
upon Senator Flanders to interest himself in legislation the Budget Bureau
helped me draft to increase the pay of about 165 top agencies' people
in the Government. This was in the summer of 1947. Well, it didn't move.
There was not very much popular pressure, as you can imagine, back of
it; but we kept tugging away at it.
In the spring of 1948 the Congress was considering legislation carried
over from the 1947 session of the Congress. It was still the 80th Congress.
Governor Dewey was emerging as the likely next President. Dewey prevailed
upon Senator Flanders (this was in the summer of 1948) to push top pay
legislation. We were not optimistic that we could get this legislation
through the 80th Congress, but we wanted it to be sure to be ready to
introduce first thing in 1949, and enacted in time for Dewey to attract
better quality people into Government. We had the legislation all ready.
By that time it had expanded to about 250 top employees. The election
came in November, and Senator Flanders and I had an appointment to see
Dewey on the Friday following the election to put the final touches on
the bill. Well, you know that meeting never took place!
Everyone assumed that Flanders and the Republican committee would just
forget all about pay legislation. Flanders was chairman of the subcommittee
of the Post Office and Civil Service Committee. The other Republican member
was [Raymond E.] Baldwin of Connecticut -- a very fine man who later became
a judge. The third was [Herbert] O'Conor, the former Governor of Maryland,
a very likeable, agreeable man who appreciated the
importance of adequate pay for executives in Government.
To the surprise of almost everybody, Flanders had some more hearings
in the special session following the election and invited former President
Herbert Hoover in as a witness. I'll never forget going off with Hoover
and having him tell me how expensive it was to operate and live in the
White House as President.
He said, "Of course, I had outside income; it didn't bother me.
But for an ordinary man, such as President Truman, it's very difficult
for him to live as he ought to live in the White House and do the entertaining
and to cover the expenses."
He made a good impression on me. So Flanders called a meeting of his
subcommittee, two Republicans and one Democrat, in mid-November. They
proceeded to work on the bill with some 250 positions for which they were
propose an increase in pay.
FUCHS: These were not Civil Service positions?
ENSLEY: They were mostly political appointees.
FUCHS: Was Hoover testifying?
ENSLEY: He had testified at the hearings a little earlier.
When the subcommittee met after the election trying to decide what, if
anything, they should do with this bill they started going through it
line by line. I was Flanders' assistant so I went with Flanders to these
meetings. At one point I interrupted the committee and said, "You
know while you're doing this, I think you should also consider doing something
for the President. After all, under the constitution you can neither increase
nor decrease the President's salary during his four year term. So if something
is done for him in the next
four years, it's got to be done before next January 20th, and here it
is late November."
All three members of the subcommittee were agreeable to the idea so Chairman
Flanders said, "Well, while we go over these other positions you
go into the other room and draft an amendment to this bill to take care
of the President."
So I went out and wrote an amendment increasing the salary of the President
from $75,000 to $100,000. Then I remember Hoover's comment and I wrote
another provision that the President shall also receive $50,000 on which
he would not have to pay any taxes or give any accounting. It would be
used as he saw fit to carry on the duties of maintaining the White House.
I put those figures in just out of the air, but the subcommittee adopted
that amendment as written. They also increased modestly the pay of the
Speaker of the House and I think of the Vice President; but I didn't have
anything to do with
that. So that became the bill. A bill to increase the salaries of some
250 top Government officials, the President's as I have outlined, plus
something for the Speaker and the Vice President. President Truman had
called a special session after the election, but we could not get the
bill to the Senate floor. So, it wasn't until January of 49 when the new
Congress came in, the new Democratic Congress (Flanders was then in the
minority), that the pay bill was introduced and debated.
Well, the pay legislation passed the House and I forget just in what
form, but it came over to the Senate just a couple of days before January
20th. I was sitting with Flanders on the floor. He went to the Democratic
leadership and made a point that if this particular amendment, this one
little paragraph of a five or ten-page bill, is going to affect President
Truman, it would have to be passed and signed
by the President before midnight on January 19th.
Well, you know what they did? They amended the bill, deleting everything
except this amendment that I had written. They also included something
for the Speaker and the Vice President. It was that provision just as
I had written it, $100,000 in salary, and $50,000 expense account that
was sent to the President just hours before he was to begin his full term.
Of course, he signed it. That made him the highest paid President up to
that point. In fact it made him the highest paid until President Nixon.
Senator Wayne Morse -- you may remember him. He was kind of an obstreperous
man, even though he was a good person. Well, sometime in the next four
years, he got mad at Truman. So, when a bill came through the Senate,
he amended this Presidential pay provision, making that $50,000 taxable.
But it was pointed out in the legislative
history that you couldn't really reduce President Truman's pay in this
way under the Constitution. The legislative history was such that the
$50,000 was not taxable for Truman; but it would be taxable for his successor.
When Eisenhower became President he was paid $100,000 and the $50,000,
but both were taxable. So he took a reduction in take-home pay. It wasn't
until Nixon came in, years later, that there was a substantial increase
in pay. So I like to feel that I am partially responsible for President
Truman being the highest paid President in history up until Nixon.
The next Christmas Donald Dawson, Assistant to the President, sent me
the pen that Truman used in signing that pay bill.
FUCHS: Were you friends with Donald Dawson?
ENSLEY: Well, he was Assistant to the President, of course, on personnel
matters. During 1947, 1948
and 1949, particularly when I was with Flanders and Flanders was on the
Post Office and the Civil Service Committee, I was in fairly close touch
with Donald Dawson on anything dealing with personnel and pay matters.
I got to know Don pretty well in that connection.
FUCHS: Did you work with anyone else in the White House during the Truman
ENSLEY: In the White House, yes, I'll come to another assistant, Dave
Bell in a little bit.
FUCHS: When you were an analyst in the Bureau of the Budget, was J. Weldon
Jones your immediate superior?
ENSLEY: No, but I was in his division.
FUCHS: Gerhard Colm?
ENSLEY: Gerhard Colm and I shared the same office, and he was my immediate
FUCHS: Any others that you were fairly close to?
ENSLEY: Roy Blough was a close friend over in the Treasury. Bob Nathan
was another, over in the War Production Board. Also we had a little clan
of economists from the various Government agencies that met frequently
to study the impact of the war on economic stability. Coming from the
Budget Bureau, I was kind of a coordinator of that group because there
was no Council of Economic Advisers during World War II. Weldon Jones
had just recently come from the Philippines where he had been the head
of the accounting office. There had been a number of high commissioners,
[Paul V.] McNutt and others, and they were always coming and going. During
the intervals when there was a vacancy, Weldon would be the acting high
commissioner. So he'd had a lot of experience as an administrator. He
was a wonderful person. I took one look at him the first time I saw him
and decided if he'd hire me I'd work for him.
FUCHS: This memorandum that you have written on your own; that would have
ENSLEY: To Gerhard Colm. Then it went to Weldon Jones and from him to
the other Assistant Directors. Eventually it went to Smith who sent it
over to the White House.
FUCHS: Did you know Smith?
ENSLEY: Oh, yes. I'll never forget as a potential junior analyst, Smith
personally interviewed me before the Bureau hired me. Then, later when
I got a Pabst award, he had me down to his office and was very complimentary.
He had heart trouble and died prematurely. He had a concept of the Budget
Bureau which was quite different from his predecessors. Smith thought
that the budget was more than just some statistical tables, but that it
was the plan of action for the Government. There were not only expenditure
controls by the Estimates Division, and the Fiscal Division
under Jones, but also a management division. Now, of course, the organization
is called the Office of Management and Budget. The roots of that broader
concept of the office go back to Smith.
He also had the concept of coordinating Government statistics, and so
he created the Statistical Division in the Budget Bureau headed by an
Assistant Director. Then, as I say, most important from my standpoint
was the role of the Fiscal Division, whose functions Smith believed were
of vital importance in the formulation of Federal economic policy. There
were five divisions in the Bureau.
FUCHS: Did you serve part of your time under Lawton?
ENSLEY: I came back from the service in March, I think it was, of 1946.
Harold Smith was just in the process of going over, as number two man,
to the newly created International World Bank. He went over as the operating
head of the
When he left, his successor was only temporary, somebody who then went
to chair the Federal Communications Commission. Then Fred Lawton moved
up to Director of the Budget Bureau. So I served under Fred Lawton, too.
But I stayed there only from March of '46 until December of '46 when I
went up to join Senator Flanders.
FUCHS: Would you have worked on any of the President's economic reports
that were required by the Employment Act?
ENSLEY: No. The first economic report was not transmitted to the Congress
until February 1947, after I had left the executive branch. The principal
thing I did when I came back to the Bureau in the spring of 1946 was to
represent the Budget Bureau and really the executive branch as liaison
with the Congress in its
consideration of and ultimate enactment of the Legislative Reorganization
Act of 1946. That was a substantial piece of legislation.
There is quite an interesting story about it even though President Truman
didn't have much to do with it. The staff work was done principally by
George Galloway who was with the Legislative Reference Service of the
Library of Congress. He was a political scientist who had spent a lifetime
studying how Congress should operate. So he worked with the House sponsor
of the bill who was Jerry Voorhis of California, and the Senate sponsor,
Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin.
The bill called for a coordinated national legislative budget, so we
in the Budget Bureau were interested in how that would work out. We were
enthusiastically in support of that provision because we'd always been
critical of the helter-skelter, piecemeal way in which the Congress approached
the budget. I was the
liaison between the Executive Office and George Galloway and LaFollette
Now, the interesting thing, as kind of a footnote on all this, is that
LaFollette and Voorhis worked their hearts out to get this legislation
through, and they successfully got it passed in late summer of 1946. But
it was at considerable personal sacrifice to both. Jerry Voorhis' opponent
in 1946 was Richard Nixon, and Jerry was here getting that legislation
passed when he should have been back home campaigning. LaFollette's opponent
in Wisconsin was Joseph McCarthy. Both Voorhis and LaFollette were defeated.
Sure it was a Republican sweep that year and they might have been swept
out anyway, although LaFollette was more of an independent or Republican
than he was a Democrat. There was a sweeping out of the "ins,"
and they could well have been defeated anyway. But they could have had
a much better chance.
I've often wondered what a different type of a political setup we'd have
experienced during the succeeding ten years if LaFollette and Voorhis
had come back to their seats.
FUCHS: I must admit there was a lot of anguish.
ENSLEY: That's right.
FUCHS: Was the Joint Economic Committee an outgrowth of this legislative
FUCHS: How did that come about?
ENSLEY: The Employment Act of 1946 had a strong declaration of the Government's
policy to do everything it could to maximize employment, production, and
purchasing power. It was a statement of goals. It created in the office
of the President, a Council of Economic Advisers to advise the President
on how to implement
this, and achieve these goals. It called for an annual economic report
to be sent to the Congress by the President.
In the Congress the Employment Act provided for a new Joint Economic
Committee, composed of members of the House and of the Senate, to receive
this report, to study it and analyze it, and to advise the Congress on
economic policy measures that would carry out the objectives of the Employment
Act. That was one of the things that prompted me to go up to work for
Senator Flanders, because [Senator Robert] Taft was made the first Chairman
of the Joint Economic Committee, in the 80th Congress, and Flanders was
a senior Republican on the committee. I went to the first organizational
meeting of the Joint Economic Committee created by the Employment Act,
in January, 1947.
The Congress had just completed the Reorganization Act which I referred
to a moment ago,
the LaFollette-Voorhis bill, which reduced the number of committees in
the Senate from around fifty to about fourteen. That meant that there
were a lot of vacant committee offices around. One of the prize offices
was right off the Senate Gallery, G-14. The story is that this was where
Vice President Garner had his office when he was Vice President. This
is where he drank his whiskey and played his poker. I don't know whether
that's true or not, but anyway it was a nice big office with an outer
office. It was one of the few suites in the Capitol that had a private
john. When Taft called the Joint Economic Committee together for an organization
meeting in January of 1947, he was pretty close to Senator [C. Wayland]
Brooks of Illinois who was Chairman of the Rules Committee. So Brooks
said, "Well, you can have your organization meeting in this G-14.
It used to be the old Industrial Committee which has been abolished, so
It was such a nice room, and so close to the Senate floor that Taft, after
the meeting, said, "I think we should try to get this permanently
assigned as the Joint Economic Committee office." So he and Flanders
went down to see Senator Brooks and, of course, Brooks agreed with Taft.
Taft was a powerful Senator in those days. Consequently, in January of
1947, that beautiful suite was assigned to the Joint Economic Committee.
I was with Flanders two years, and then I went with the Joint Economic
Committee as its Deputy Director. The part-time Director was Ted [Theodore
John] Kreps of Stanford University. He resigned after a couple of years
and I became the Executive Director until 1957 when I left the Government.
Every two years, with a new Congress, we would get a letter from the
chairman of the Senate Rules Committee saying that because of the
strategic location of our office suite, it was needed by the Senate Majority
Leader. The letter would give us until the next Friday to move to some
less desirable office in the Capitol basement!
I'll never forget when the first letter came. Taft immediately saw the
chairman of the Rules Committee and got the letter torn up, and that was
the last we heard of it. Then [Joseph C.] 0'Mahoney became chairman in
1949. He was fairly senior. He became chairman of the Joint Committee
about the time I went with the Committee. We got the same letter from
the chairman of the Rules Committee. I took it to O'Mahoney and he said,
"Don't worry about it." He went to see [Carl] Hayden who at
that time was chairman of the Rules Committee and they tore the letter
up, and we stayed. Then two years after that, when he was still chairman
of the committee, he got another letter and that was torn up. Well, that
went on from '47 until '55.
I couldn't really justify this suite. We were not a legislative committee;
we were a study committee. But nevertheless, you know how human nature
is, if you have something good you want to keep it.
It was a beautiful office and there was a fireplace in it. Every winter
morning when I'd come in, the fire would be ready to be lit. So in the
afternoon I'd light the fire. I'd sit there and work during the afternoon.
It was very comfortable and cozy. You'd look right out, down the mall
to the Lincoln Memorial and across the river to Arlington Cemetery. I
was very proud of that office. One evening in January 1955 just before
I left, in walked Lyndon Johnson. He'd been in the Senate for a few years,
and he had just been elected Majority Leader of the Senate. So he looked
around. He looked in the john. As he started to walk out, he said, "Well,
Grover, you know Paul Douglas
is going to make a great chairman of your committee -- with all that economic
background and so forth."
Before I could say anything, he left. But I knew he was mixed up because
Douglas was not the senior Democrat. The chairmanship rotated between
the House and the Senate, and it was the Senate's turn to have the chairman.
The senior Democrat, and hence I assumed the one to be next chairman of
the committee, was John Sparkman of Alabama.
The next day I got another letter from the Rules Committee saying that
Lyndon Johnson wanted this office. I didn't think anything about it. I
took it over to John Sparkman who I assumed was going to be our next chairman.
I told Senator Sparkman the long history of the suite. I told him I'd
appreciate it if he'd tell the chairman of the Rules Committee that we
just can't move.
Well, Sparkman -- he's a wonderful person and
a good personal friend of mine -- said, "Well, I don't know that
I can do that. You know, just yesterday the new Majority Leader, Senator
Johnson, took me off to one side and said, 'Look, there are five or six
hide-a-way cubicles in the Capitol, which are given to five or six of
the most senior members of the Congress.'" And Sparkman told me,
"Now Johnson said that I don't have enough seniority for one of these
rooms, but, nevertheless, he is going to give me one. But in doing so,
he said he didn't want any trouble with me and with Ensley when he took
the Joint Economic Committee suite for himself."
Well, I thought, that's one down and I've got three to go. So, I went
to see Paul Douglas, the second ranking Democrat on the Joint Economic
Committee. I told the story to Douglas and Douglas said, "Well, honestly,
I can't do anything about it, because under the new 'Johnson rule' which
just announced yesterday, I'm going to be chairman of the Joint Economic
I said, "What the hell is the new Johnson rule?"
He said, "Well, Lyndon Johnson has just come up with a rule -- that
no Senator can be chairman of more than one committee."
I said, "Well, what difference does that make; Sparkman would take
this committee wouldn't he?"
"Well, he can't because he's now chairman o£ the Small Business
Committee which is a Senate Committee and two years from now he'll still
be chairman of that committee. But under the rules of the Joint Committee
its chairman will rotate to the House, so that two years from now a House
member will become chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. So Sparkman
can't afford to give up one committee to take the Joint Committee when
it would be available to him for
only one term. So, he's got to stick with this Small Business Committee
even though he may prefer the Joint Economic Committee."
"Now, that means that under the 'Johnson rule' I'll be the new chairman
of the JEC. When Johnson told me about this he said, 'I don't want any
trouble from you now that you're going to be Chairman or from Ensley in
getting that suite -- the Joint Economic Committee suite.'"
Well, I thought to myself, this Lyndon Johnson is quite an operator,
isn't he? Then I thought, well, I'm going to my next ranking Democrat,
then a good Southern friend of Lyndon Johnson's. This was before Vietnam,
when William Fulbright and Johnson were good friends. I went to see Fulbright
and told him the story.
I said, "You can understand why Sparkman can't do anything. You
can understand why Douglas can't tell Johnson off. But, you can do it.
You've been in the Senate all these years and
you're senior to him. Just tell him we're not going to give up this suite."
But Fulbright indicated that Johnson had already spoken about his future
with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and that he wasn't in any
position to press Johnson on JEC space. Lyndon Johnson, a