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U.S. Senate Ends 75-Day Filibuster of Civil Rights Bill

June 10, 1964 - The U.S. Senate invoked closure on the civil rights bill today by a vote of 71-29, thus ending a 75-day filibuster.

This was four more votes than were necessary. Under the rules, two-thirds of the Senators present and voting are required to close debate. This means 67 if all 100 Senators are present. All 100 were present today.

Closure imposed, the Senate immediately began debate on amendments. Under the closure rule, each Senator is allowed to speak for one hour before the bill is brought to a final vote.

President Johnson broke into his prepared remarks before the Presidential scholars in the East Room of the White House tonight to comment on the closure vote.

“Today’s action,” he said, “demonstrates that the national will manifests itself in Congressional action.”

The Senate vote, he continued, represents “a major contribution to meet a national responsibility.”

The vote on closure was historic. The filibuster had been the longest since the closure rule was adopted in 1917.

Eleven times before, proponents of civil rights bills had tried to close off a Southern filibuster. Never had they succeeded.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) gave credit for today’s achievement to Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.) and Senate Majority Whip Hubert Humphrey (D-Minn.).

However, Senator Richard Russell (D-Ga.), who bitterly opposed the bill, said: “Lyndon Johnson had more to do with this than any one man.”


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