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How the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Became a Law

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Olivia Graskewicz

on 5 June 2015

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Transcript of How the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Became a Law

How the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Became a Law
Olivia Graskewicz and Max Wilde
Legislation Proposal
The President
June 11, 1963: President John Kennedy was the source of the proposal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
-He wanted Congress to consider:
*voting rights
*public accommodations
*desegregation of public schools
*establishing a Community Relations Service
*continuing the Civil Rights Commission
*nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs
*formation of an Equal Employment Opportunities Commision

The Justice Department
Responsible for putting President Kennedy's words into legislative form
Met with the Congressional leaders of the Democrat and Republican parties and gathered bipartisan support

Made sure to avoid controversial language in the draft in order to preserve Congress' potential support
June 19, 1963: The Kennedy Administration sends a proposal for a bill to Congress
bill introduced in 3 forms
the entire bill
the entire bill, minus Title II
went to the Judiciary Commission for consideration
Title II
co-sponsored by Mike Mansfield and Everett Dirksen
Title II was very controversial because it prohibited discrimination in public accommodations, despite if they were privately owned or not. Title II was isolated to prevent its controversy from jeopardizing the bill as a whole.

went to the Commerce Committee for special study
introduced by Mike Mansfield, the Senate majority leader

went to the Judiciary Committee for consideration
House of Representatives
Senate leaders chose to delay action until the HOR considered the legislation. It prevented the Judiciary Committee and the Commerce Committee from reporting formal proposals because both had southern conservative senators at their chairs. Plus, delay prevented filibusters.
The entire bill sent to the House Judiciary Committee
Committee Action in the House
Judiciary Committee
Chair Emanuel Celler, a strong supporter of civil rights, and Republican William M. McCulloch managed to pass the bill through the committee process
sent the bill to Subcommittee Number 5 for in-depth consideration
Subcommittee Number 5
conducted hearings from May to August of 1963
Rewrote the Justice Department's Draft of the bill
- more difficult to prevent blacks from voting
- outlawed discrimination in all public accommodations
- gave Attorney General right to sue in education integrations matters
- guaranteed equal employment opportunities
The bill is easily approved.
Northern Democrats supported
Republican subcommittee members voted its approval to receive credit for its passage
Southern Democrats, despite opposing the administration's bill, supported the more liberal subcommittee bill because they thought it would never pass on the House floor
sent back to the Judiciary Committee
Knowing the subcommittee's draft of the bill would not be well-supported by Republicans, the Kennedy Administration sent Attorney General Robert Kennedy to appear before the full Judiciary Committee to urge them to report a bill that was more moderate

Democratic and Republican House leaders on the committee agreed to make the legislation more agreeable
- Republicans able to modify voting registration requirements, the Civil Right's Commission's status, and enforcement procedures
The original subcommittee's proposal was defeated 19 to 15, but the Judiciary Committee's new compromise was approved by the Committee 23 to 11 on October 29, 1963.
The Judiciary Committee made its formal report on November 20, 1963.
sent to Rules Committee
Rules Committee
Rules Committee chairman Howard W. Smith was an opponent of civil rights, so he refused to allow a ruling on the bill before the end of 1963
Emanuel Celler and other civil rights advocates threatened to sign a discharge petition that would allow the bill to continue forth without consulting the Rules Committee
In response, Smith promised that a rule would be granted in early January 1964
The bill was cleared by the Rules Committee on January 30, 1964, and was now eligible for floor consideration
The House floor approved the bill on February 10, 1964, after 9 days of debate and nearly 100 rejected amendments
420 members voted: 290 supported, 130 opposed
-Republicans supported 138 to 34
- Democrats supported 152 to 96
*Northern Democrats support 141 to 4
*Southern Democrats oppose 92 to 11
Success of the bill due to a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and northern Democrats

In total, the HOR had 70 days of public hearings, 275 witnesses, and 5,792 pages of testimony
The House sends the bill to the Senate on February 17
Bill Introduced to Senate
Before debating bill, Senate considers changing legislation preventing filibusters and amending Senate Rule XXII
2/3 of present senators needed for cloture, liberals wanted fewer
January 31, Senate refused to change Rule XXII by a 53 to 42 vote
Committees Bypassed
Judiciary Committee
Bill didn't need to go to Senate Judiciary Committee because it passed in the House
Went straight to Senate Calendar with a 54 to 37 vote on February 26, 1964
Bill couldn't be killed in conservative Judiciary Committee, only by filibuster
Debate from March 9-26 on whether to debate the bill
March 26th, Senate voted 67 to 17 to formally consider bill, rejecting Judiciary Committe again 50 to 34
Senate Floor Debate
Opposing Views
Pro-Civil Rights Democrats
Led by Hubert H. Humphrey
Worked to pass bill
Southern Bloc
Led by Richard Russell
Opposed bill, 18 Southern Democrats and Republican John Tower of Texas
Led by Everett McKinley Dirksen
Did not have unified stance, included "swing" votes from states where race wasn't an issue
Filibusters and Clotures
Pro-civil rights senators answered every quorum call and Southern bloc criticism to prevent filibusters
Southern bloc split up into 3 "platoons" to take turns filibustering
Everett McKinley Dirksen led Pro-civil rights Republicans
Dirksen designated a captain for each section of bill
5 or 6 Republican "swing" votes needed for cloture
Influence on Senate
Dirksen received 100,000 letters in June 1964
African American groups opposed Dirksen's amendments to bill
Dirksen's vote did not change regardless of protesters
March on Washington in 1963, several interest groups protested
Senate Debate
Dirksen-Mansfield Substitute Bill
Cloture and Final Vote
Return to House
Southern Bloc objected to cutting off federal funds to discriminatory projects and fair employment provisions, concerned with small businesses
Opposition of CRA feared expansion of federal power, especially in states with no racial issues
Dirksen offered to propose amendments to questionable sections of bill with Senate Republican Policy Committee on March 31st
Agreed that federal government intervention would be at a minimum and a transition period in which voluntary compliance was allowed would be instated before federal intervention
Filibuster continued through April into month of May and a 1,500 page speech was read at one point
After 52 days of filibuster and five negotiation sessions, substitute bill was proposed on May 13
Dirksen, Mansfield, Humphrey, and Kuchel were senators that cosponsored the "clean" bill
Original bill was not weakened
Approximately 70 changes made, many concerning wording, punctuation, and phrasing
Authors were careful to not change it so that House support of bill was lost
Lessened federal emphasis on fair employment and public accommodations, higher priority to voluntary compliance, more private incentive than official legal initiatives
Time for a vote on cloture was imminent
June 10, 1964 Senate voted 71 to 29 to close off the filibuster, ending 57 days of debate
44 Democrats and 27 Republicans voted to end filibuster, 23 Democrats and 6 Republicans voted against it, 4 "swing" Republican votes were key
Senator Engle of California attended vote despite his stroke and pointed to his eye, signifying his "aye" vote
Many senators voted for cloture simply to move on to other Senate business, campaign, and prepare for national party conventions
June 17, 1964, 76 to 18 vote to adopt the substitute bill and have a 3rd reading
June 19, 73 to 27 roll call vote to pass the bill
Total of 83 debate days, over 730 hours, and 3,000 pages of Congressional records
Substitute bill was sent to House for final approval
"Clean" bill sent back to House, every measure was taken to avoid Conference Committee
Southern-dominated Rules Committee led by chairman Howard Smith was seized control of by a bipartisan group that wanted to pass the Civil Rights Act
House passed Senate Substitute bill 289 to 126 on July 2, 1964
No significant differences in two bills, only 6 House votes changed from original vote, no need for Conference Committee
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill into law within a few hours of passage on July 2, 1964
Quoted before signature, "We believe that all men are created equal -- yet many are denied equal treatment. We believe that all men have certain inalienable rights. We believe that all men are entitled to the blessings of liberty -- yet millions are being deprived of those blessings, not because of their own failures, but because of the color of their skins. The reasons are deeply embedded in history and tradition and the nature of man. We can understand without rancor or hatred how all this happens. But it cannot continue. Our Constitution, the foundation of our Republic, forbids it. The principles of freedom forbid it. Morality forbids it. And the law I sign tonight forbids it..

Sent to White House
White House
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