John Emerson Moss was elected to the California Sate Assembly November 2, 1948 and reelected November 7, 1950. He served as the assistant Democratic floor leader of the assembly during the 1949-52 sessions. First elected to the United States House of Representatives on November 4, 1952, he continued to serve the people of Sacramento until his retirement in 1978. He was nominated by both the Democratic and Republican parties in 1958 and ran unopposed in 1960. He was subsequently reelected to the 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd 93rd, 94th and 95th Congresses; Congressman Moss was never defeated in any election for public office.
During his tenure in Congress, John Moss was the Chairman of the Foreign Operations and Government Information Subcommittee of the House Government Operations Committee, and the Commerce and Finance and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. He also served on the Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Power, the Subcommittee on Government Information and Individual Rights, and the Subcommittee on Legislation and National Security and was a member of the Committees on Post Office and Civil Service and House Administration and the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. He was the Deputy Majority Whip from the second session of the 87th through the 91st Congresses.
Every American has benefited from Congressman Moss’ tireless efforts, whether through the Freedom of Information Act, the Consumer Product Safety Act, The Magnuson-Moss Federal Trade Commission Warranty Act, his never ending battle to preserve the integrity and effectiveness of government agencies, or through the hundreds of investigations which made his work in the Congress legendary. While the lives of many have been enriched, none so much as the legion of men and women who had the honor of working with him. The extraordinary relationship of affection and mutual respect between Congressman Moss and his staff was unique in the halls of Congress.
Congressman Moss was known worldwide for his legislative accomplishments, which included:
Certainly, Gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have a great weight with him, their opinions high respect; their business unmerited attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasure, his satisfactions, to theirs, and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own.
But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure, no nor from the law and the Constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
Edmund Burke in:
Orations and Essays
Authoring and sponsoring of the Freedom of Information Act, opening government records to access by the public and the press.
Authoring and advocacy of the Consumer Product Safety Act which established the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a new federal agency, with broad authority to protect American consumers against unsafe products.
Congressman Moss was the primary author, along with Senator Warren G. Magnuson (D-WA), of the Federal Trade Commission Improvements Act (the Magnuson-Moss Act) which gave the Federal Trade Commission authority to bring actions on behalf of the defrauded consumers, go directly to court to enforce consumer rights against deceptive practices and set trade regulation rules establishing fair conduct in businesses affecting commerce.
Congressman Moss was the author of the Securities Amendments of 1975 which opened the securities industry to the National Electronic Market System (NASDAQ) ended restrictive practices (such as mandatory fixed commission rates) and limited the monopoly power of the New York Stock Exchange.
He was also the author of other significant consumer legislation, such as the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act (stronger bumpers, tamper proof odometers); the Toy Safety Act (safety standards for children’s toys); the Poison Packaging Prevention Act (safety packaging on drugs for household use); the Toxic Substances Control Act (one of the first environmental protection laws).
In addition to his legislative accomplishments, Congressman Moss is considered the father of modern legislative oversight. Moss chaired the largest Oversight Committee in the House of Representatives for six years. The Committee considered subjects such as the World Uranium Cartel, a FBI foreign security surveillance, government contracting abuses, the adequacy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, unnecessary surgery, natural gas shortages and pricing, automobile passive restraint systems, the effectiveness of the regulation of pesticides and amendments to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act relating to commercial bribery of foreign officials by domestic companies. These Oversight hearings generally resulted in policy or programmatic changes by government and industry.