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🚨U.S. Senate Passes Civil Rights Bill, 73-27

June 19, 1964 - The United States Senate passed the civil rights bill today by a vote of 73 to 27.

The final roll-call came at 7:40 p.m. on the 83rd day of debate, nine days after closure was invoked.

Voting for the bill were 46 Democrats and 27 Republicans. Voting against it were 21 Democrats and six Republicans.

Except for Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, all the Democratic votes against the bill came from Southerners.

Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona voted against the bill, as he said yesterday he would. The five other Republicans opposing it all support Goldwater’s candidacy for the Republican Presidential nomination.

They were Bourke Hickenlooper of Iowa, Norris Cotton of New Hampshire, Edwin Mechem of New Mexico, Milward Simpson of Wyoming, and John Tower of Texas.

The bill will now go back to the House for concurrence in the changes that the Senate made in the measure the House passed last Feb. 10 by a vote of 290 to 130.

Tonight, Representatives Emanuel Celler (D-N.Y.) and William McCulloch (R-Oh.), who are the chairman and ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, said they would accept the Senate version of the bill.

“We believe the House membership will take the same position,” they said.

With the support of those two men, who were responsible for the House bill, acceptance of the Senate bill in the House is assured.

President Johnson hopes to have the bill on his desk by July 3 at the latest so that he can sign it on the Fourth of July.

Tonight, President Johnson, who was visiting San Francisco, called passage of the bill a “challenge to men of good will in every part of the country to transform the commands of our law into the customs of our land.”

Johnson said it was now the nation’s task “to reach beyond the content of the bill to conquer the barriers of poor education, poverty, and squalid housing which are an inheritance of past injustice and an impediment to future advance.”

In St. Augustine, Fla., where he is leading a civil rights drive, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King (pictured today after hearing the news) said the bill’s testing grounds would be St. Augustine, Albany, Ga., and Montgomery, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Gadsden, and Selma, Alabama.

He said his organization would test the bill soon, but he indicated that the tests would not come until after the measure was signed by President Johnson.

“The civil rights bill will bring a cool and serene breeze to an already hot summer,” Dr. King said.

Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy said the vote “must hearten and encourage President Johnson and all Americans.”

“I know how President Kennedy felt a year ago, and I know how pleased he would be now,” the brother of the late President said. “This legislation enhances the basic concept that free people, given the opportunity, will face their problems and deal with them.”

Former President Harry S. Truman said of the passage of the bill: “I think it’s a good thing. They did what was right.”

One dissenting opinion was expressed by Malcolm X, the Black Nationalist leader. “You can’t legislate good will, and therefore the only thing that will eliminate discrimination and segregation is education, not legislation,” he said.

“The passage of this bill,” he continued, “will do nothing but build up the Negro for a big letdown by promising that which cannot be delivered.

He predicted that after two or three weeks of calm “it will be worse — much more violence” because the bill would increase Negro “frustration, disillusionment, and hostility.”


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