Published January 1974 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd The Senate in 1973: A Year of Achievement The television coverage of the Watergate hearings left many people with the impression (as indicated in my office mail) that all of Congress was tied up with Watergate in 1973. The facts, however, are otherwise. Only seven Senators out of 100 members of the Senate (no House Members) are on the Watergate Committee. The remaining 93 Senators have been busy in their own committees and subcommittees. Aside from the Watergate Committee, there are, in the Senate, 17 standing (permanent) committees, 126 subcommittees, and nine special and select committees. Hence, while the Watergate Committee hearings were being televised for millions of Americans to observe, there was no television coverage of the hearings and activities of the 152 other Senate standing committees, subcommittees, and special and select committees while they were at work. Contrary to the impression that the Senate was bogged down with Watergate, the Senate in 1973 passed 723 measures, of which 196 became public law; confirmed 66,817 nominations; approved 22 treaties; and conducted 594 record votes. Among those measures of importance enacted by the Senate (some of which still await House action), are the following: Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act; War Powers Resolution; Compensation for Victims of Violent Crimes; Social Security Benefits Increase; Emergency Medical Services; Health Maintenance Organizations. The Senate also enacted Private Pension Plan Reform; Minimum W a g e Increase (which was vetoed) ; Vocational Rehabilitation; Mass Transit Funding; Northeast Rail Service Improvement; Crime Control Act; Railroad Retirement Amendments; Servicemen's Benefits; Education of the Handicapped. Also included were Federal Election Campaign Amendments; Federal Election Reform Commission; Toxic Substances Control Act; Emergency L o a n Program for Disaster Areas; F1ood Insurance; Older Americans Act; Public Works and Economic Development Amendments; Youth Conservation Corps. Additionally, the Senate legislation included Civil Service Retirement Annuities; Civil Service Survivors Benefits; Federal Employees Health Insurance; National Guard Technicians' Retirement; Diabetes Millitus; School Lunch and Child Nutrition Programs; Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Moreover, the Senate passed bills on Job Training Employment Opportunities; Emergency Employment Act Amendments; Wild and Scenic Rivers Act Amendments; Aircraft Hijacking; FederalAid Highway Act: Freight Car Shortage; Ship Construction; and Extension of the Economic Stabilization Act, giving authority to the President to control wages, prices, etc. The enactment of this mass of legislation is evidence that the Senate has been concerned with many issues other than: Watergate.