top of page

GOP Leaders Hit Johnson Anti-Poverty Campaign

Mar. 17, 1964 - Republicans suggested today that much of the Johnson Administration’s planned war on poverty would merely duplicate existing Government programs. The first round of attacks came as the $962.5 million anti-poverty bill began what will undoubtedly be a long and rocky course through Congress.

The general theme of the opening day of hearings before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and Labor was: Republicans like the man chosen to run the program, Sargent Shriver (pictured today), but they don’t think much of the program itself.

“Well, we’ve still got our shirts on,” Mr. Shriver said to aides after he had been questioned for three hours by members of the committee.

Republicans centered their attacks on three points:

— They said the bill would give too much power to the director of the program.

— They said the Government already has programs to carry out many of the proposals in the bill.

— They said it was unwise to put all the proposals into a single bill covering everything from education to agriculture.

Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Democrat of Manhattan and chairman of the committee, pledged to move the bill along “with maximum speed.” He said he hoped to have it out of his committee and in the hands of the House Rules Committee by May 1.

The hearing proved one of the biggest attractions on Capitol Hill. Hundreds tried to crowd into a small hearing room; many were turned away.

Republicans praised Mr. Shriver for his work as director of the Peace Corps and suggested he would be equally fair in administering the anti-poverty program. But they said he might not always be head of the anti-poverty program and that his successor could abuse the wide authority given in the bill.

Mr. Shriver insisted that every penny of money would be used for the benefit of the poor. “There is no leakage, no huge new bureaucracy,” he declared.

He said it was not possible to say how long it would take to conquer poverty. “We will continue in this war, with your permission, as long as there is grinding poverty in the United States,” he said.


bottom of page