Debate continued on the bill.
Gallup released a poll showing a 61 percent approval rating for H.R. 7152, up from 49 percent in June 1963.
Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Halleck and Dirksen answered questions related to provisions of H.R. 7152.
Halleck: “The Republican position on civil rights has been good for a hundred years and it is good today in spite of what people have undertaken to say of us as Republicans.”
Dirksen in response to a general question about his relationship with the president with regard to legislating: “But a message comes to the Congress with respect to a given thing. I may be for it. I may be against. If at the very outset I feel that I am going to oppose it then I speak my piece and start getting my ducks in a row and then we work from there. And of course you don’t use sponges to throw at somebody when you go into that kind of contest.”
Halleck also said that the House would pass a bill that would prove acceptable to the Senate. He did not want to put effort into a bill that the Senate would block. He also pointed out that Democrats controlled both chambers, and they would dictate the course of events.
Step 3, the offering of amendments to H.R. 7152, began. The Clerk of the House read the bill, title by title, line by line. After each title was read, members could offer amendments to that section under the so-called five minute rule which limited the remarks of the amendment’s sponsor, its proponents, and its opponents to five minutes each.
Step 3 was a crucial part of the battle: whether H.R. 7152 retained its strength or was substantially weakened depended on the amendments.
An amendment to Title I (voting rights) in federal elections proposed to give defendants in cases of alleged voting rights violations the same rights as the attorney general to request a hearing before a panel of three federal judges. It passed, 100-68. Another amendment to include Puerto Rico under the terms of the bill was also accepted. Neither weakened the bill.
The New York Times reported that Dirksen was admitted to the hospital for treatment of a bleeding ulcer. He was discharged to recover at home on February 11 and returned to the Senate on February 17.
The fourth day of House debate saw three amendments to Title I (voting rights) defeated as the debate turned to Title II (public accommodations). Two amendments to Title II clarifying what constituted discrimination passed by voice vote after Justice Department officials said the amendments would not weaken the bill. Other amendments, including one by Howard Smith to provide that no one could be compelled to render labor or service without his consent, failed.
During the fifth day of debate, no amendments to Title II (public accommodations) passed. George Meader (R-MI) proposed an amendment to limit Title II’s coverage only to those businesses situated or advertised immediately adjacent to interstate or major highways. Opponents pointed out that such a measure would cover only 7 percent of roads in the U.S. It was defeated 68 to 153.
The Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee reported an amended bill (S 1937, S Report 867) to promote equal opportunities in employment without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin and to establish an independent Equal Employment Opportunity Board to adjudicate complaints of discrimination. No formal action followed.
Consideration in the House of amendments to Title III (public facilities) began. Of the ten amendments proposed by southerners to the Title III, only one passed. It provided for defendants’ attorney fees to be included in the cost assessed the federal government when it lost a suit to desegregate public facilities.
Of the eight amendments offered to Title IV (public education), two were accepted.
Next, the House considered amendments to Title V (Civil Rights Commission) before concluding the day’s business at 9:34 p.m.
The seventh day of House debate on H.R. 7152 began at Noon with five titles remaining to be considered for amendment, beginning with Title VI (federally assisted programs), which allowed for the cutoff of federal funds to states and localities found to be practicing discrimination.
Just before 5:00 p.m., Oren Harris (D-AR) proposed to restore language from the Kennedy administration’s original bill, which would have repealed existing provisions in federal law that permitted segregation in federally supported programs, and given the president discretionary authority to withhold funds from discriminatory programs. The original bill also gave the president the sole power to prescribe the conditions needed to assure non-discrimination, and did not provide that the withholding of aid should be subject to review by the courts.
McCulloch, who had insisted on no weakening of the bill, had demanded that any cut-off of funds be subject to judicial review. The Harris amendment lost 80 to 206.
The day ended at 8:20 p.m. with the defeat of seven amendments to Title VI.
The eighth day of House debate on H.R. 7152 began with Emanuel Celler introducing ten “perfecting” amendments to Title VII (equal employment), all of which were accepted by Republicans.
Howard Smith then offered an amendment to insert the word “sex” on pages 68, 69, 70, and 71 of the bill, thereby adding it to the list of discriminations (race, creed, color, and national origin) prohibited in employment. It would affect every employer, labor union, governmental body, and employment agency in the nation. In the words of one House member, “It would be one of the most radical civil rights amendments in U.S. history.”
Smith counted on the amendment passing and making H.R. 7152 so controversial that it would fail to pass either in the House or in the Senate. Smith’s amendment passed, 168-133, on a teller vote. In a teller vote, members file past tellers and are counted as for, or against, a measure, but they are not recorded individually.
The House accepted three more amendments to the title, one preventing job discrimination in job retraining programs and another allowing church-related colleges or groups to hire employees on the basis of their religious beliefs. Four additional amendments fell in defeat.
Debated ended at 9:00 p.m.
The ninth and final day of debate began at 10:55 a.m. By 1:00 p.m., the House had considered 26 additional amendments to Title VII (equal employment), defeating 22 of them. None of the remaining four was controversial.
All four amendments to Title VIII (registration and voting statistics) were defeated as was the single amendment to Title IX (judicial appeal).
Other amendments were quickly dispatched, some accepted, some rejected.
At 7:00 p.m. Step Four in the process took place. This step provided for the possibility of recorded votes on any amendments previously accepted in the Committee of the Whole if one-fifth of the members requested it. The one-fifth threshold was not met.
At Step Five, the House could permit a minority party member to offer a recommital motion by which he could obtain, if he so chose, a recorded vote on any defeated amendment. A motion to recommit H.R. 7152 to the Committee on the Judiciary was voted down by voice vote.
Then came Step Six: The final question put to the House by the Speaker, “Shall the bill pass?”
After nine days of debate, the House of Representatives passed an amended version of H.R. 7152 by a bipartisan majority of 290-130.
Of the 256 House Democrats, 152 (59 percent) voted in favor of the bill and 96 against. Seven Democrats were absent and the Speaker normally does not vote. Northern Democrats supported the bill, 141-4. Southern Democrats opposed the bill, 11-19. Of the 177 Republicans, 138 (78 percent) voted for the bill and 34 against. The 34 Republicans included 12 southern Republicans.
Of the 124 amendments offered (excluding amendments to amendments), only 34 were written into the bill. Most were technical revisions. Not a single amendment opposed by the bill's managers was adopted.
Page 1 of the 56-page H.R. 7152
At 4:00 p.m., in the midst of the House debate, President Johnson called Clarence Mitchell and Joseph Rauh to ask, “What have you done to get the bill on the floor of the Senate? You’ve got to see Mansfield right away and talk about all of this.”
The Senate Commerce Committee reported the public accommodations bill (S. 1732, S. Report 872) it had approved on October 8, 1963. S. 1732 forbade discrimination in essentially the same accommodations as noted in Title II of H.R. 7152 but was based exclusively on the commerce clause with no reference to the 14th Amendment. No formal action followed.
Shortly after the House vote, Johnson placed congratulatory phone calls to Carl Albert, Charles Halleck, John McCormack, and Emanuel Celler.
At 6:30 p.m., the president called Attorney General Kennedy to say that Senators Richard Russell and Everett Dirksen might have struck a deal on cloture that would make it impossible for cloture to succeed. He worried that Mansfield would take the bill through the Judiciary Committee, where it would surely die. Johnson wanted it to be put on the Senate calendar immediately. Johnson ordered Kennedy to persuade Mansfield to follow the administration’s strategy.
President Johnson met with Attorney General Kennedy, Nicholas Katzenbach, Burke Marshall, Larry O’Brien, and Pierre Salinger to map out strategy for Senate consideration of H.R. 7152.
The president wanted to pass the bill through the Senate by holding round-the-clock sessions intended to wear out the southerners who would filibuster the bill. Others advised seeking cloture under Rule 22. Majority Leader Mike Mansfield favored the second approach and proceeded along those lines.
Still skeptical that the civil rights forces could obtain cloture in the Senate, Johnson grilled the more optimistic Katzenbach who responded, “I think we can get 57 to 60 votes for cloture fairly easily. We have 51 Democrats and some liberal Republicans from New York, California, Pennsylvania, and New England who will support the bill. But not all will vote for cloture. We need at least half of the 33 Republicans. Based on the cloture vote on the Communications Satellite Act [in 1962 a bipartisan coalition had defeated a liberal filibuster against a plan to encourage investment in space-based telecommunications] there are 74 [sic—67 votes were required, so 74 were more than enough] potential votes for cloture. We need at least seven more from the 14 senators who have voted at least once for cloture. That should be possible.”
At 2:00 p.m., the “Bipartisan Democratic and Republican Staff for the Civil Rights Act of 1964” met in Room 1300 of the New Senate Office Building. Five Democratic senators and seven Republican senators participated in a discussion about Senate parliamentary procedures for considering the House-passed civil rights bill; the timing of consideration in terms of a tax bill and wheat and cotton bill; the prospects for cloture on civil rights; and legislative strategy for proponents and opponents.
CBS News reported that President Johnson had told two southern senators he was willing to limit public accommodations sections of the bill. Such a deal would have violated the pledge to McCulloch to pass the bill unchanged by the Senate. The White House denied the charge the next day.
Republican senators Hugh Scott (PA) and Thruston Morton (KT) said they suspected a “deal” had been struck by President Johnson to gain southern Democratic votes for the tax reduction bill, recently passed in the Senate, in exchange for weakening the civil rights bill. Humphrey denied the charges the following day.
The House-passed bill was delivered to the Senate at Noon. Senate consideration of H.R. 7152 would follow eight parliamentary steps. The bill would be
1. Read for the first time.
2. Read for the second time, unless an objection was heard.
3. Assigned to a committee or, in rare circumstances, placed by majority vote directly on the Senate calendar to avoid a hostile committee chairman.
4. Heard by the committee and, depending on the chairman, allowed to die or to be acted upon.
5. Put on the Senate calendar of pending bills.
6. Scheduled for floor action, subject to majority consent.
7. Debated with no time limits (amendments could be offered at any point but only debated when called up by the sponsor).
8. Read for the third time and given a final vote.
The Bipartisan Democratic and Republican Staff for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 met to discuss the Justice Department’s evaluation of the House-passed bill and its position on the Senate Commerce Committee bill, the relative merits of a bill based on the 14th amendment or the commerce clause, and the breadth of coverage of public accommodations.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield rose from his desk in the front row and requested that the bill be read the first time. He then said, “Mr. President, I object to the second reading of the bill today.” By postponing Step 2, he could control the bill’s course.
Mansfield announced that he would propose that H.R. 7152 be placed directly on the Senate calendar without first going to the Judiciary Committee whose chairman, James Eastland of Mississippi, had blocked previous civil rights bills.
"We hope in vain," he said, "if we hope that this issue can be put over safely to another tomorrow, to be dealt with by another generation of senators. The time is now. The crossroads is here in the Senate." He then turned to his right to face the minority leader, Everett Dirksen. "I appeal to the distinguished minority leader whose patriotism has always taken precedence over his partisanship, to join with me, and I know he will, in finding the Senate's best contribution at this time to the resolution of this grave national issue." Dirksen replied:
I trust that time will never come in my public career when the waters of partisanship will flow so swift and so deep as to obscure my estimate of the national interest. If and when that time comes, then perhaps I shall have lost whatever talent and justification I have for public service and should make an exit or make way for others to carry on the responsibility I presently hold.
... I have never seen the time in any crisis when the Senate has not sagaciously worked its will and risen to its responsibilities as part of the deliberative branch of government. That has been true in every generation.
... So I make an appeal to my fellow Senators to consider this issue in the light of the national interest. … I want to do what is in the interest of the present and future well-being of probably the only real, true free republic that still remains in God's footstool. … I shall cooperate. I shall do my best. When the time comes, when the deliberations are at an end and all facets of the matter have been carefully considered and discussed, I shall be prepared to render judgment and I shall have no apology to make to any man or group anywhere, anytime, for the cause I shall ultimately pursue.
The minority leader also let it be known that he felt free to offer amendments to the House-passed bill: “Already some amendments have occurred to me. I shall try to shape them. I shall try to put them in form. If I think they have merit, I shall offer them.”
Three Senate factions would determine the bill's fate: pro-civil rights (a.k.a. "national") Democrats, southern Democrats opposed to the bill, and Republicans. Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D-MN) led the Democrats who supported the bill. As Senate majority whip, Humphrey enjoyed the support of Mike Mansfield, his leader. Together they were determined to pass the legislation and arranged grueling twelve-hour daily sessions to wear down the opposition. Mansfield, however, did not follow the president’s advice to hold round-the-clock sessions. As floor manager for the bill, Humphrey's task was to line up supporters to defend the bill in debate, to persuade reluctant members of his party to vote for passage, to encourage publicity, and to count votes. The senator from Minnesota labored hard for passage and sought cooperation from many sources, including the Republicans.
The numbers made it impossible for the Democrats, who held an overwhelming majority in the Senate, to carry the day on their own, however. Twenty-one of the 67 Democrats came from southern states. Twenty of them, the so-called "southern bloc," would oppose the measure vigorously. At most, then, there were 47 Democrats likely to vote for cloture—a tactic necessary to end debate on the bill and move to a vote. Humphrey needed support from at least 20 of the Senate's 33 Republicans, and a few more to guard against defections of national Democrats. Dirksen was the key. "I've only got thirty-three soldiers," Dirksen remarked. "The Democrats have sixty-seven. That's why the administration has legislative indigestion."
Senator Richard Russell, Democrat from Georgia, led the opposition forces, the "southern bloc." Although a hopeless minority, the group exerted much influence because Senate rules virtually guaranteed unlimited debate unless it was ended by cloture.
Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
The Democratic leadership and Humphrey could not control the southern wing of the party. Many of Russell's forces feared their southern constituents would vote them out of office if, as senators, they voted for equal rights for blacks. Election imperatives trumped loyalty to their party's majority.
The "southern bloc" held out hope that presidential candidate George Wallace, the segregationist governor from Alabama, would do well in the early presidential primaries. If Wallace seemed popular, Russell would argue that the nation as a whole did not support federal civil rights legislation and that the Senate should not pass an unwanted bill.
Southern senators could not compromise. Only by forcing cloture could they demonstrate to their constituents that they had fought to the end even against hopeless odds. Russell also believed there was a growing backlash against the increasingly radical tactics of civil rights protestors. A filibuster that would postpone legislation as long as possible would give the backlash time to reach a critical mass.
The Republican Party was not so badly split as the Democrats by the civil rights issue. As it turned out, only one Republican senator, John Tower of Texas, would participate in the filibuster against the bill. In fact, since 1933, Republicans had a more positive record on civil rights in Congress than the Democrats. In the twenty-six major civil rights votes since 1933, a majority of Democrats opposed civil rights legislation in over 80 percent of the votes. By contrast, the Republican majority favored civil rights in over 96 percent of the votes.
Yet Republicans were split on the wisdom of invoking cloture. By the advance hard counts, not more than sixteen Republicans senators were likely to support such a move. Opponents were primarily small-state senators who jealously guarded the procedure as a way to protect themselves from being steamrolled by the majority.
Everett McKinley Dirksen (R-IL), the Senate Minority Leader, was the only one who could recruit the half dozen additional Republican votes necessary to quash the filibuster. Ironically considering what lay ahead, when the Senate debated a rules change that would have made it easier to end a filibuster, Dirksen opposed the limitation. According to him, the filibuster functioned as "the only brake on hasty action of which I have any knowledge." Yet Mansfield depended completely on Dirksen to provide the margin to achieve cloture. "Dirksen is the real leader of the Senate," one senator said privately at the time. "He understands Mike, and Mike turns to him."
Mansfield announced to the Senate that he had designated Humphrey as floor leader for the bill. Warren Magnuson would manage the debate on public accommodations; Philip Hart (D-MI) on voting and other judicial questions; and Joseph Clark (D-PA) on equal employment opportunity.
Following his weekly White House breakfast meeting with the Democratic congressional leadership, President Johnson took Hubert Humphrey aside. The president made Dirksen the key to the bill when he commanded of the Senate majority whip,
The bill can't pass unless you get Ev Dirksen. You and I are going to get Ev. It's going to take time. We're going to get him. You make up your mind now that you've got to spend time with Ev Dirksen. You've got to let him have a piece of the action. He's got to look good all the time. You get in there to see Dirksen. You drink with Dirksen! You talk with Dirksen. You listen to Dirksen!
For the next week, the Senate turned its attention to the tax cut bill, delaying further consideration of H.R. 7152.
The Bipartisan Democratic and Republican Staff for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 met at 4:30 p.m. with Clarence Mitchell, Director of the Washington office of the NAACP. Mitchell supported the House-passed bill but preferred strengthening amendments. They discussed the role of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the possibility that anti-civil rights senators might support the bill in order to get the wheat-cotton bill passed, and the pros and cons of seeking amendments to the House bill.
Mike Mansfield and Richard Russell met and agreed to certain principles in preparing for the upcoming debate. The Senate majority leader promised to inform Russell of any major moves ahead of time and that he intended to bypass the Judiciary Committee and place the bill directly on the Senate calendar.
Russell agreed not to delay consideration of the tax bill and to permit committees to meet during the debate. Russell also alerted Mansfield that he intended to filibuster Mansfield’s plan to bypass the Judiciary Committee but that he would end this mini-filibuster after a few weeks. Russell did not want to risk his filibuster on Mansfield’s gambit to come to a cloture vote he might lose, thereby making it easier to invoke cloture on the entire bill.
Richard Russell caucused with his southern Democrats and vowed to oppose the civil rights bill as vigorously as possible.
At this point, the Democratic strategy in the Senate consisted of four parts: (1) winning the support of Minority Leader Everett Dirksen; (2) encouraging a reasonable and searching debate of the bill itself; (3) organizing the civil rights forces in the Senate to enable them to survive the rigors of a southern Democratic filibuster for months, if necessary; and (4) coordinating the inside offensive with outside groups supporting the bill.
The Democratic Policy Committee produced a study of every senator’s votes on cloture since 1954. That analysis showed that 55 senators were considered ready to invoke cloture on H.R. 7152 in the form it had passed the House. Thirty-three senators were labeled as “reasonably sure against” cloture. This category included the bloc of 19 southern Democrats, all of whom were unquestionably against. Finally, a dozen senators were named as “crucial.” This group included nine Republicans and three Democrats—they held the key to cloture.
The “crucial” senators were Carl Hayden (D-AZ), Gale McGee (D-WY), Herbert Walters (D-TN), Frank Carlson (R-KS), Dirksen, Bourke Hickenlooper (R-IA), Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME), John Williams (R-DE), Len Jordan (D-ID), Edwin Mechem (R-NM), Jack Miller (R-IA), and James Pearson (R-KS).
Cloture on H.R. 7152 would require the affirmative vote of every senator identified by the Democratic Policy Committee as “crucial,” assuming no favorable votes were cast by the senators rated as “reasonably sure against” and all 100 senators voted.
“The success of a cloture attempt is precarious at best even with the support of Senator Dirksen,” the report concluded. “Once cloture is attempted and support for it is shown to be insufficient it will encourage the Southerners all the more and will identify those Senators who are disposed not to vote for cloture. The trading power wielded by these Southern committee chairman is prodigious and could be used to persuade uncommitted Senators to hold the line.”
During a press conference following the Joint Senate House Republican Leadership meeting, Dirksen expressed concern about H.R. 7152’s public accommodations section and the Fair Employment Practices Commission provision.
At 3:45 p.m., Robert Kimball, Legislative Assistant to Representative John Lindsay, a key House liberal, called Stephen Horn, Legislative Assistant to Senator Thomas Kuchel, to report that Bill McCulloch recognized that the Senate would make changes in the House bill and that he would not object—“improvements are welcome.”
At 5:28 p.m., Johnson, White House Press Secretary Bill Moyers, and Mike Mansfield participated in a phone call, the result of a story by Washington Post reporter Mary McGrory.
Moyers to Mansfield: “Senator, she says she has been on the Hill for the last two days trying to do a story on the strategy of the civil rights bill, particularly the pro-civil rights bill and the Democratic majority. She finds no plan, no strategy, and no one has had any instructions from the White House, that she can find no evidence of any strategic or tactical decisions that have been made, and that there is a great deal of confusion, and that no one seems to know what the other person is doing. She went to the Republicans, she said, and asked them if the Democrats had appointed a liaison with the Republican liberals and pro-civil rights senators to try to work out some strategy, and they said no, that there had been none of this.”
Mansfield: “Well, she hasn’t been around to see me. She hasn’t been around to see Hubert; I don’t know. Is this article out?”
Moyers: “No sir, She’s writing it.”
Johnson: “She’s writing it, and she wants somebody to inform her on it. I thought it would be good if you said to her that you understood that she called the White House about this, that you discussed it at breakfast the other morning what the plans for the leadership were. And that they’re satisfactory to the White House, but that you make those decisions yourself, that you and your policy committee have decided that you’ll put it in the hands of four people—Humphrey and whoever they are—that you’re going to be in constant contact with Dirksen on the matter.”
Mansfield agreed to take a call from McGrory.
Dirksen named seven Republicans to assist him when the Senate took up the civil rights bill. Thomas Kuchel (R-CA) would manage the Republicans.
Over the next three days, Deputy Attorney General Katzenbach briefed the Senate legislative assistants on the civil rights bill, going title-by-title and exploring hypothetical applications of the legislative language.
President Johnson advised Hubert Humphrey that it made sense to delay consideration of civil rights until an agriculture subsidy bill (a.k.a., the wheat-cotton bill) could be passed, in part because its passage might appease southern senators whose states depended on these crops.
Johnson wanted to distance himself from the Senate proceedings. He said to Humphrey, “I think that you’ve got to be awfully careful that you don’t leave that [the civil rights issue] at the White House because they’ll say that it’s a plot of the cotton South.” Humphrey agreed to take responsibility.
Johnson: “So, I’m just thinking that it had better be a leadership decision. When they ask you what the White House says about it, I’d just say, ‘We make those decisions up here; the White House has never told us how to handle procedures, and we gladly discuss them with them, but they tell us it’s a matter for the Senate to decide.’”
After disposing of a tax cut bill, Mansfield took Step 2 in the parliamentary process for H.R. 7152 by asking that the bill be read for the second time. Afterward, he moved that the bill be placed directly on the Senate calendar as provided under Senate Rule XIV, which required a simple majority vote. Thus he skipped Steps Three and Four and went directly to Step Five.
Richard Russell immediately objected on the grounds that Mansfield’s ploy went against Senate Rule XXV, which had been passed after Rule XIV, and which called for all bills to be referred to the relevant standing committee. Russell had lost this very point of order in 1957 when the Senate voted to let that year’s civil rights bill bypass the Judiciary Committee. The Senate’s presiding officer cited the 1957 ruling as precedent in denying Russell’s objection.
Everett Dirksen opposed Mansfield’s motion, too, preferring that H.R. 7152 go to the Judiciary Committee for further testimony. Between 1953 and 1963, 121 civil rights bills had been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Only one had ever been reported, and that action was taken under instructions by the Senate. The committee held only 11 days of hearings on the bill President Kennedy submitted in 1963 and heard only one witness, Robert Kennedy, who was questioned for nine days. Even then, the committee failed to report a bill.
Mansfield prevailed, however. The Senate voted 54-37 to place the House-passed H.R. 7152 on the Senate calendar rather than refer it to Judiciary. Twenty Republicans voted with Mansfield.
Mansfield then reversed course in an attempt to win eventual support of cloture from Alaska’s Ernest Gruening. The majority leader requested unanimous consent that the bill be referred to the Judiciary Committee after all, with instructions that it be reported back “without recommendation or amendment” by March 4. Jacob Javits (R-NY) immediately objected, and Mansfield failed.
Step Six, a vote to bring H.R. 7152 to the floor, would follow Senate debate on the wheat-cotton bill. Democratic floor manager Humphrey planned to trade concessions in the wheat-cotton bill for votes in support of the civil rights bill.
Publicly, Senate Minority Leader Dirksen stated his concern at the scope of Title VII, the equal employment opportunity title. He said that President Kennedy had promised him in 1963 there would be no fair employment practice title in any bill submitted by the administration, and Kennedy had kept his promise. But H.R. 7152, as amended by the House, did contain such a provision.
After stating that 28 states already had some version of an anti-discriminatory body, Dirksen feared for conflicting actions by federal and state commissions. He criticized as ill-defined the language in the section forbidding the federal commission from bringing action where a state or local fair employment practices agency had “effective power” to halt discriminatory practices.
The Joint Senate House Republican leadership meeting included a discussion of civil rights. At the subsequent press conference, Dirksen was asked if civil rights demonstrators would affect Dirksen’s view of the bill.
“I’m not looking with disfavor on the Civil Rights bill,” he said. “I want to vote for a meaningful bill, but I do not want to see it studded with ambiguities that are going to congest our courts and I try to keep in mind that when you talk about the whole spectrum of civil rights you’re not talking about 10 percent of the people, you‘re talking about ALL of the 190 million people in this country.”
Hubert Humphrey and Thomas Kuchel (CA), Republican whip and the party’s floor manager for the bill, met with Clarence Mitchell and Joseph Rauh to plan strategy.
Humphrey reviewed his ideas for organizing the civil rights forces in the Senate. He and Kuchel emphasized the crucial role that church-related groups could play in generating support for the bill. The two warned against overt efforts to pressure senators like Dirksen into supporting the bill, fearing that such tactics would backfire. The two floors leaders pledged that cloture would not be attempted until its application was certain and that the Senate leadership would not tolerate weakening of the House bill.
The bipartisan supporters of the bill agreed to meet in the morning a half hour before Senate sessions began. In these meetings the two floor managers, their staffs, and Justice Department officials reviewed plans for the day. On Mondays and Thursdays, Clarence Mitchell and other Leadership Conference officials joined them. Every evening the senators’ staffs met from 5:30 to 6:00 to follow up on details.
At 4:00 p.m., the Democratic and Republican floor leaders met with Clarence Mitchell in Humphrey’s office. It was agreed that “it was very important to have a bipartisan effort just as that which occurred on the House side.” Humphrey favored cloture within five days. Mitchell advised against cloture “unless we are sure we can win.” Kuchel wanted to permit southerners to filibuster “since the American people will get disgusted with them.”
The group talked about how to schedule committee meetings; the length of Senate sessions; parliamentary procedures, including the “legislative day” requirements; and controversy over the atheism and sex provisions in the House bill.
Kuchel indicated that “Dirksen told me the other day that he wanted to rethink the bill.” Humphrey said: “I told Dirksen that it is not Hubert H. Humphrey that can pass this bill, ultimately it boils down to what you do. Dirksen doesn’t want somebody picketing him.”
Humphrey: “We need faith and perseverance. I went to see Tommy [Kuchel] and we’ve got the votes. [Richard] Russell runs a war of nerves. He will yell Benedict Arnold, traitor, and lynch law. … If he were on a bear hunt, he would let the rabbits out of the cage and have the hounds chase them. He doesn’t want us to get bear.”
Mitchell: “Negroes in this country have had a tremendous change. They aren’t afraid of dogs. They just try to figure out how to keep them from biting. This isn’t the old game where one could say rough stuff in the [press] gallery and nobody would pay attention.”
At a press conference, President Johnson said, “the civil rights bill which passed the House is the bill that this Administration recommends. I am in favor of it passing the Senate exactly in its present form.” The president was responding to rumors that he had cut a deal with southern Democrats to compromise on civil rights in return for their votes on the tax cut.
"The President’s News Conference"