Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at a Meeting With the Congressional Fellows.

September 15, 1965

Chairman Macy, Congressional Fellows, and friends:

Since assuming the Presidency nearly 2 years ago, I have made 370 appointments to the executive branch of the Government. About half of those selected for these positions were career Government employees. This will continue to be the trend for the future. Where talent and imagination and experience exist in this Government, we are going to seek it out.

You are such a group. You have been sought out on the basis of your achievements. Your horizons have been broadened. Your future is one of opportunity. It is entirely possible that among you today are Cabinet officers and heads of agencies for tomorrow.

The year's experience that you have just received in the Congressional Fellowship program represents an invaluable addition to your careers. No high Government official can be completely effective if he does not understand the role of Congress in our democracy.

Too often in our history the executive and the legislative branches have been reduced to suspicion and to petty bickering. And too often the cause of progress has suffered because of it.

Although our Constitution divides us into separate branches, it charges all of us with the same mission--that is, to serve the American public. Some disagreement between the branches of Government is quite natural. But cooperation between the branches of Government is quite imperative.

I expect every member of my administration to understand this and to apply this to the day-to-day operations of the Government.

I am not just talking about congressional relations, I am talking about understanding the job that the Congress has to do. And I am talking about trying to help the Congress do that job that it has to do.

We have entered a new era, I think, of respect and good will between the executive and legislative branches of the Government. I intend to do everything I can to encourage this respect and to promote this good will.

Because of the experience that you have gained in the Congressional Fellowship program, I am charging each of you with the responsibility of helping me in this important task. You have gained new insights and new attitudes. So your task now is to pass them to the Federal executives and the managers with whom you work.

Further, I am today placing renewed emphasis upon the Congressional Fellows program. I want every department and I want every large agency of the Government to have at least one of its most promising young executives in this program next year. And next year when I address the group of Fellows, I want to be able to look out and I want to see some pretty faces out there. There hasn't been a woman enrolled in the 4-year history of the program. I don't like that and I don't really see any reason for it. In fact, I deplore it.

I am glad you are here. You cheer me with your zeal and with your purpose. I have not the slightest idea but what you will find in the years to come that this has been a great experience for you and for your country. And next year's program is going to be better even than this year's.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:45 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to John W. Macy, Jr., Chairman of the Civil Service Commission.

In announcing the meeting Joseph Laitin, an assistant press secretary, stated that the Congressional Fellows, a group of approximately 30, were career civil service employees detailed for a short period to Members of Congress and congressional committees to learn about the legislative branch of the Government.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at a Meeting With the Congressional Fellows. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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