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Senate Wrangling Continues on Civil Rights Bill

Mar. 1, 1964 - The leader of the Southern bloc in the Senate, Richard Russell (D-Ga.), said today that the public accommodations title of the civil rights bill was less objectionable than two other provisions. One of these, Title 6, would require a cut-off in Federal aid to any segregated state program. The other, Title 7, would prohibit job discrimination by most employers and unions.

Senator Russell’s comment, made on the CBS-TV program “Face the Nation,” tended to support one widely held appraisal of civil rights prospects in the Senate. This is that the final bill will include a public accommodations title despite all the controversy about it. The provision as it passed the House prohibits segregation at most restaurants, hotels, and places of public amusement.

Senator Russell disputed the idea that President Johnson would readily compromise on the civil rights legislation. The President’s very position as a Southerner would make that impossible, he suggested.

“I think President Johnson feels,” he said, “that if he loses any substantial part of it, that will cast all of his statements in support of it in doubt as to their sincerity. That really makes it a much more difficult position as to any possible compromise than there would have been had President Kennedy not met his tragic fate.”

Senator Russell said that “we are just about come to a state where it will be necessary for us to fight this bill to the bitter end.”

Senator Russell conceded that in his own state, Georgia, “there is undoubtedly an increase in sentiment in favor of civil rights legislation.” But he suggested that that came from “brainwashing” of his constituents.

President Johnson would carry Georgia today despite his support for the civil rights bill, Senator Russell said. He was asked whether he would make the same prediction if Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy were the Vice-Presidential candidate Senator Russell said that Mr. Kennedy was “not a popular figure” in Georgia but that he did not think that that nomination would change enough votes to matter.


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