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I wish to add that we understand there are a number of coal operators throughout the country who will be glad to testify, pro or con, in regard to this measure, some in the affirmative and perhaps some in the negative. I doubt if it is generally understood throughout the country, I mean throughout the coal industry, that a hearing is being held on this bill at the present time.
The CHAIRMAN. If the gentlemen are not prepared to go ahead with the hearing, and if there is no objection to recessing the hearing, perhaps until after the holidays, I might suggest that that would promote, or at least permit of a better understanding of the phases of the situation, on the part of those who want to be heard on the bill, pro and con. It would give ample time for them to arrange to be present.
Mr. LEWIS. We should, of course, be glad to get along as fast as we can, but if that is what is desired we will be satisfied.
The CHAIRMAN. We have a very great deal of business before this committee. I have been censured somewhat for calling this hearing, owing to the state of our committee calendar. But having spent three months in hearings, it occurred to me that the only thing to do was to complete this matter-to determine to do something or not to do anything. The same is true of the movie hearing; we had a movie hearing for about two weeks, and had to stop in the middle of it on account of this hearing. I think we must conclude this hearing by going along with it as soon as may be, or else the matter will be passed over.
Mr. A. M. BELCHER. Mr. Chairman, I want to say that when we were here before, at the hearing in the spring, we merely represented certain witnesses. I did not at that time represent any coal association or coal organization; and we did not think that the bill that is now under discussion would be the only matter to be submitted. I now speak at Mr. Gandy's request, for the National Coal Association, and I wish to say also that I speak for the West Virginia Coal Association, and that for three weeks before coming here on Friday I was ill with the flu, and merely got out of bed in order to come here. Since coming here I have read the memorandum submitted by Mr. Warrum-and it was the first time I had seen it-and on yesterday I dictated a brief to meet the propositions in a legal way that have been asserted here by council representing the proponents of the bill.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you be ready this afternoon to go ahead with the hearing?
Mr. BELCHER. Mr. Greever, who is associated with me, and who speaks also for the National Coal Association andthe Coal Association of West Virginia, is ill at his hotel and unable to be here this morning. We certainly want to oppose this bill, and are ready, or will be, at any time the committee wants us to be heard, to argue this question from a legal standpoint, because we believe that the legal principles involving the matter will determine the proposition.
The CHAIRMAX. All right. Mr. Warrum wants to go home on account of very serious illness in his family, and the matter might go over until after the holidays.
Mr. BELCHER. Is it understood, from what Mr. Lewis says here, that they are willing to rest their case, feeling that they have made a
prima facie case? If so, there is nothing for us to do but to get ready.
The CHAIRMAN. My idea is now to recess until after the holidays, when everybody will be in better position to go along, I take it. I think we better proceed at that time by hearing the opponents of the bill, and they will take the floor first when we reconvene, and after that the proponents can reply. We are pretty free and easy in these matters in the committee, for all we want is to get at the facts. We do not hold either side down to any hard and fast program, but merely want to hear both sides.
Mr. BELCHER. We understand that this is a very serious matterThe CHAIRMAN (interposing). It is.
Mr. BELCHER. And it requires due thought and study by those who are interested in it, as well, of course, by the members of this committee and the Senate. In order to be helpful we wanted to think about the proposition as much as we could.
Mr. WARRUM. I should like to ask Mr. Belcher, through the chairman of this committee, if he will hand me a copy of the brief so that we may have it. I might add that they have had ours since May of this year, or at least that it has been available to them. This brief that is to be prepared in opposition to the bill is what we would like to see.
The CHAIRMAN. I think that is a fair request. Mr. BELCHER. There is no question about that. I merely want to add that so far I have only dictated it, and may want to go over it and make some changes.
Mr. WARRUM. Very well, but will you hand us a copy?
The CHAIRMAN. Now, gentlemen, that is the way to get on. The committee will at this time take a recess until after the holidays, to reconvene at the call of the chairman. The best I can do is to promise to notify you gentlemen by telegraph as soon as the time for reconvening has been arranged. Is that satisfactory to you gentlemen!
Mr. BELCHER. That is satisfactory
(Whereupon, at 10.45 a. m., the committee adjourned to meet at the call of the chair.)
BITUMINOUS COAL COMMISSION
MONDAY, JANUARY 14, 1929
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee met pursuant to adjournment on December 17, 1928, at 10 o'clock a. m., in the committee room, Capitol, Senator Burton K. Wheeler presiding.
Present: Senators Couzens, Sackett, Goff, Wheeler, and Hawes.
Senator GOFF. Gentlemen, I am going to ask that this committee come to order; and, inasmuch as Senator Wheeler is the ranking member of the committee present, I am going to ask him to preside. He says that he will do so. We expect to get a quorum present, and you can go ahead as you see fit. I have the line of procedure as it has been given to me by Mr. Greever, one of the attorneys for the West Virginia Coal Association, and we will proceed along that line. I do not know that I can stay here myself, because I had two degrees of fever this morning, the same as Senator Watson, although I told him that I had less to carry with two degrees than he did and that I would disobey my doctor and come. He is obeying his doctor and staying at home. I do not know that feeling as I do I can stay here throughout all the hearings but if I have to leave it will not be because of lack of interest but because of the condition in which
Senator WHEELER. I feel just a little embarrassment in being a Democrat and presiding at a Republican meeting, but I can assure the coal operators that their interests will be fully protected.
Senator GOFF. I will say for Senator Wheeler that he is always fair and with him right has no politics.
Senator WHEELER. Thank you, sir. Mr. Greever, as I understand it, the first man that you want to have heard is Mr. Milton E. Robinson, jr.
Mr. GREEVER. Mr. Chairman, I would hardly say that he is the first man that I want to have heard, because we really have no connection with these gentlemen. We are here and were asked if we had any objection to their going first.
Senator WHEELER. I think there should be some kind of an understanding between you as to the number you want to be heard and whom you want to be heard first.
Mr. GREEVER. Yes; we agreed to that arrangement. Mr. Robinson will go first. Senator WHEELER. Very well; we will hear Mr. Robinson now.
STATEMENT OF MILTON E. ROBINSON, JR., OF CHICAGO, PRESIDENT
OF THE NATIONAL RETAIL MERCHANTS' ASSOCIATION
Mr. ROBINSON. Gentlemen, in the first place, I am a retailer of coal. I understand that the United States Coal Commission tabulated a total of something like 30,000 of us fellows in the United States during their study of the industry. Whatever their number may be, they or we purchase and distribute between 125,000,000 and 150,000,000 tons of coal annually, and that coal goes mainly into the householder's cellar. Therefore, the retail branch of the coal industry constitutes the contact of the industry with the public at home.
You gentlemen know without my telling you that it is the householder, the home attitude, that counts in matters of this kind. mean by that that it is the householder who kicks about home troubles, rather than the industrialist who kicks about his business troubles. It may be the same man. But it is the home influence that counts when it mounts up into large numbers, as it does in this case, because this 125,000,000 to 150,000,000 tons of coal of which I spoke affects 10,000,000 families, 10,000,000 homes in the United States, figuring, as we do, an average of 10 tons per home per annum. Therefore, if the public is going to be interested in the outcome of any matter of this kind, we have to consider complaints from 10,000,000 of them.
The association of retailers which I represent is in part an association of associations. It is an organization of local, State, and regional associations and of individual retailers as well. Our membership at the present time includes retailers in 27 States and the District of Columbia. It is the only national association of retail merchants; and, therefore, is the largest single body of retail coal dealers in the United States.
Our association conceives that its function, among other things, is the study of its job from the time its individual members buy their coal until that coal is carried over the carriers of the country, put through our yards, delivered to our customers, and, finally, burned in their heating plants. Our study covers every phase of that job.
Naturally, we have committees assigned to different phases of it. We have our trade-relations committee, which covers our relations with the operators; our transportation committee, which covers our relations with the carriers; our public-relations committee, which covers our relations with the consumers; and our governmental relations committee, which for years has made a study of legislation and has been prepared to express its opinion when called upon.
Naturally, the study of this bill has devolved upon the governmental relations committee, of which a former president of our association, Mr. Roderick Stephens, of New York, is the chairman. I am going to ask him to present the official attitude of our association, and, when I say the attitude of our association, I say that advisedly, because not only our board of directors but our annual convention has had an opportunity to go on record with regard to this bill, and the position which Mr. Stephens will state will be not the position of his committee alone but the studied position of our entire association. With your permission, I will now introduce Mr. Stephens, of New York.