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FINAL DISPOSITION OF THE SO-CALLED CORN SUGAR BILL
The committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce rejected the Senate bill which would open all foods indiscriminately for the use of dextrose without limit and without notice to the purchaser. The committee reported the bill in which the permission to use dextrose in this way was limited to frozen products, such as ice cream, and to bakers' products and meat products. This bill was approved by the House of Representatives but only with a very small majority. The opposition to it had grown to enormous proportions.
. The bill, as it passed the House, was entered on the Senate calendar and it was understood that when it was called up the Senate would not insist upon its own measure, but would be content to adopt the measure as it passed the House. It was called up on the 2nd of July, 1926, just two or three days before both houses of Congress had voted to adjourn. Unless it could be acted upon on this occasion there would be no additional time in which it could be considered by the Senate.
Senator Neely of West Virginia had become convinced that this was a vicious measure. He felt also that if it came to a vote the Senate, having already passed a more drastic bill, would probably concur in the bill as modified by the House. He therefore determined to defeat the measure by a lone filibuster. He secured the floor of the Senate and openly announced his determination to hold it until the hour at which the bill could be considered had passed. He held in his hand A copy of Good Housekeeping, and read from time to time paragraphs therefrom, showing the enormity of the crime intended. By that time, however, a large number of Senators had seen the error of their way and expressed their sympathy with Senator Neely who was trying to prevent a national crime.
I addressed to Senator Neely after his successful filibuster the following letter:
"The country owes you a vote of thanks for your heroic and successful endeavor yesterday to block the approval of the so-called 'Corn-Sugar' Bill. * * *
"As determined by Dr. C. A. Browne, the sweetening power of corn sugar is only 50% of that of sucrose. It is much more insoluble. It leaves a very disagreeable, bitter after-taste. To foist this sugar upon the American public without knowledge is a crime of the deepest dye. I sincerely hope you will be on your guard if any subsequent attempt is made to rush this legislation through the Senate.
To this letter Senator Neely, on the 3rd of July, replied as follows:
"I regret to confess there are no words in my vocabulary sufficiently vigoious to convey to your mind my sincere appreciation of your more than gracious letter of the second day of July. Frankly, whatever service I have rendered the country's consumers of sweetened food products, I have been able to perform solely by virtue of the information contained in your illuminating article which recently appeared in Good Housekeeping.
"Sincerely hoping that the public may be thoroughly informed as to the menace of the pending legislation on the subject of corn sugar before Congress reconvenes in December, I am, with the best of wishes and the kindest of regards, always,
(Signed) M. M. Neely."
On December 16th, 1926, I wrote Senator Neely as follows:
"I am writing to ask if there is any immediate prospect of the so-called Corn Sugar Bill being taken from the calendar and considered by the Senate? I am preparing a document which I wish to submit to each member of the Senate when it is likely that such consideration will take place. Your work last summer in blocking this legislation was most notable and successful. I hope you have not lost any of your enthusiasm in this case and will be on guard, with the other Senators who stood by you on that occasion, to prevent any mutilation of our food law."
To this letter Senator Neely on the same day replied as follows:
'Replying to your very acceptable letter of the sixteenth day of December, I regret to inform you that it is quite probable that the so-called 'Corn-Sugar Bill' will-be 'called up' at almost any hour of any day.
"Yesterday, a Senator from a western state inquired of me particularly as to the possibility of my discontinuing my opposition to this measure. I told him, and I now assure you, that I purpose to oppose the passage of the Corn Sugar Bill to the limit of my capacity as long as I continue a member of the Senate.
"In view of the article on the subject which appeared in the last number of 'Good Housekeeping,' I feel impelled to tell you that I have absolutely no selfish interest of any kind or character in seeking to defeat this legislation. I am prompted to the course I have adopted by a single motive, and that motive is to preserve, protect, and defend the Pure Food Law and thereby protect the health of the people of the country."
On December 17th, 1926, 1 wrote Senator Neely as follows:
"I hope, even if Congress should pass this measure, that the President will refuse to sign it. I feel certain President Coolidge could not complacently approve of the perpetration of such a huge.fraud upon the American public. It means fraud in every household in this broad land. I sincerely hope you may be able again to block this vicious legislation, either by force of reason, or, if necessary, by filibuster.
Under date of December 18, 1926, Senator Neely wrote me as follows:
"Yesterday Senator Ashurst and I conferred at considerable length about the subject matter of your communication, and rededicated ourselves to the task of preventing the enactment of a measure (despite the good faith of its proponents) which he and I believe thoroughly vicious."
There was organized, therefore, a number of Senators into a committee who promised to guard carefully the rights of the people by objecting to any unanimous consideration of taking the bill from its regular place on the Calendar. This was particularly true in the last days of, the session when night sessions were called to consider bills to which no objection was made. I wrote Senator Neely and asked him to organize a watch-meeting to see that at least one Senator was always present who would object to taking the so-called. Corn Sugar Bill from its place on the. calendar, by unanimous consent. In this way all legislation of this kind was blocked until the 69th Congress expired at noon on the 4th day of March,1927.
All pending bills are now dead. If the 70th Congress undertakes to enact a measure of this kind, a powerfully organized minority at least, will be ready to interpose all required parliamentary obstacles to such legislation. It is quite certain, therefore, that any other bill of a similar character would have a very rugged future before it, and it is almost morally certain that no such legislation can now be enacted.