Image courtesy of Library of Congress
Before his election as Minority Leader, Bertrand Snell of New York chaired the War Claims and Rules Committees.
On this date, the first session of the 75th Congress
(1937–1939) adjourned sine die
. Under the leadership of Speaker of the House William Bankhead
of Alabama, the Democratic majority was tasked with fulfilling the legislative program of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. During the first session, the House introduced 9,200 total bills, 489 of which were signed into law, including two veto
overrides. Led by Representative John Rankin
of Mississippi who chaired the World War Veterans Committee, the House voted to override the veto of the Veteran Insurance Law (H.R.5478), renewing insurance for an additional five years. This was the first override since the 74th Congress
(1935–1937) overrode President Roosevelt’s veto of the Bonus Bill of 1936. In addition, the House overrode H.R. 6763 to extend a low interest rate on Federal land-bank loans for an additional year and Land Bank Commissioner's loans for a period of two years. One of the first session’s more controversial bills was the Judicial Reform Act of 1937 (S. 1392), Roosevelt’s court packing plan. The legislation would have permitted the President to add up to six Justices to the Supreme Court as well judges to lower courts. Both Congress and the American people refused to back the legislation and it died before reaching the House for a vote. In the days leading up to adjournment, reporters referred to the session as “fizzling out” in comparison to past Congresses during the New Deal. Representative Bertrand Snell
of New York stated, “when the gavel fell on Saturday, we reached the end of the greatest do-nothing session of Congress in the last half century.” Despite the criticism, in the last hours of the 153-day first session
, the House passed 94 private bills at the rate of about two bills per minute.