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LBJ Pushes Congress To Act Now

Jan. 8, 1964 - President Johnson fixed his fiscal 1965 budget at $97.9 billion today and hurled Congress a challenge to enact an expanded New Frontier legislative program by summer. The new budget is a half billion dollars less than the current spending rate. Disclosure of his budget was a startling innovation in Mr. Johnson’s first State of the Union message, delivered before a joint session of Congress. The President, in a dramatic move toward disarmament, also announced the long-expected shutdown of four plutonium plants and a 25% cutback in production of enriched uranium for nuclear explosives. He called on Russia “to do the same.”

The President was applauded heavily at his repeated pitches for approval of the civil rights bill. “Today,” he said, “Americans of all races stand side by side in Berlin and Vietnam. They died side by side in Korea.” The President’s voice was gentle at the punch line: “Surely they can work and eat and travel side by side in their own country.”

The President received perhaps the greatest of the 78 outbursts of applause interrupting his address when he gave the back of his hand to the Russian threat. “We intend to bury no one,” he said. Then there was dead silence during a deliberate pause. The President continued softly: “And we do not intend to be buried.” The House chamber echoed a roar of spirited cheering. “We can fight if we must,” Mr. Johnson said, “as we have fought before — but we pray we will never have to fight again.”

The name of John F. Kennedy was evoked three times in Mr. Johnson’s speech. “Let us carry forward the plans and programs of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, not because of our sorrow or sympathy, but because they are right,” he urged. Referring to military power, Mr. Johnson said: “We must continue to use that strength, as John Kennedy used it in the Cuba crisis and for the test ban treaty, to demonstrate both the futility of nuclear war and the possibilities of lasting peace.” Then, at the end, Mr. Johnson said: “John Kennedy was a victim of hate, but he was also a builder of faith.”

Afterward, President Johnson shook hands out of the chamber and through a corridor (including a kiss for the outstretched hand of May Craig, correspondent for Maine papers) until he reached the Speaker’s dining room, where he was the guest of the Texas delegation at a meal of Texas sirloin. The President’s wife and his daughter, Lucy Baines Johnson, had kin from both sides of the family in their gallery box. There were Huffman Baines, the President’s uncle, and Mrs. Baines; Mrs. Josefa Saunders, an aunt of the President; and Miss Susan Taylor, a niece of Mrs. Johnson. Sixteen-year-old Lucy Baines wore a dress that was described as “hot pink.”


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