Legislative Summary: Statement by Senator Mike Mansfield

The following is a transcription of the introductory statement – made by Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield – published in the Legislative Summary of the 87th Congress and First Session of the 88th Congress (1964). For more information please contact Kennedy.Library@nara.gov.

"The practice of appraising the work of each session of Congress is as old as the Congress itself.  Because Congress is charged with the responsibility of establishing legislative policy for all the American people, it is essential that such evaluations be made to inform the people of the work of their representatives. Because of the incomprehensible tragedy which occurred on November 22, this appraisal is based on the 3-year legislative record of the Kennedy Administration.  It gives a clear-cut picture of the programs established under that administration and to the work still to be done under the able leadership of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

An analysis of the 3-year period under the leadership of our late President reveals a record of lasting achievement.  No Congress can ever enact all the measures desired by all groups in our country, whether the period covered is 1, 3, or 10 years.  As the late President stated in his inaugural message on January 20, 1961, after outlining his beliefs and ambitions:

All this will not be finished in the first 100 days.  Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet.  But let us begin.

And begin he did.  The late President, from January 25 to April 27, 1961, sent 28 messages to Congress outlining his ideas of programs to halt the recession, to get the unemployed reemployed, to obtain adequate housing for all, and to create better educational facilities.  These messages ranged from area redevelopment to the establishment of a permanent Peace Corps and a 5-year plan for foreign aid.  In his effort to revitalize the 10-year-old foreign aid program, the late President said:

There exists, in the 1960’s, an historic opportunity for a major economic assistance effort by the free industrialized nations to move more than half the people of the less developed nations into self-sustained economic growth, while the rest move substantially closer to the day when they, too, will no longer have to depend on outside assistance.

Congress did revise the foreign aid program by replacing the existing Mutual Security Act with a new basic law and title; it authorized future separation of military and economic aid budgets; it granted long-term permission for economic aid for the first time in the form of an authorization of $7.2 billion in appropriations over 5 years to finance long-term, low-interest development loans to underdeveloped nations.

On March 1 of 1961, the late President established a Peace Corps pilot program by Executive order and, in answer to his request, Congress gave a degree of permanency to this idea of enlisting young Americans to serve as instructors and helpers in the less developed countries.  This year, the program was more than doubled.

On September 26, 1961, the late President signed into law the bill enacted in response to his request for the establishment of a U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency to assume primary responsibility within the Government for directing and coordinating disarmament matters.  The importance of this Agency was outlined in his address to the United Nations just the day before he approved the bill.  He said:

* * * we in the United States have labored this year, with a new urgency, and with a new, now-statutory agency fully endorsed by the Congress, to find an approach to disarmament which would be so far reaching yet realistic, so mutually balanced and beneficial, that it could be accepted by every nation.

In the same message, the late President said:

* * * we remain ready to seek new avenues of agreement; our new disarmament program thus includes the following proposals: First, signing the test-ban treaty by all nations.  This can be done now.  Test-ban negotiations need not and should not await general disarmament.  * * *  Finally, halting the unlimited testing and production of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles, and gradually destroying them as well.

On September 24 of this year, almost 2 years to day from the time the U.N. speech, we consented to ratification by the President of the limited nuclear test-ban treaty which prohibits nuclear explosion in the atmosphere, in outer space, and underwater.  In a world standing on the brink of nuclear devastation, this was truly a dream come true.

Less dramatic than the Peace Corps or the Disarmament Agency, but equally as important, was the 1961 decision to join the 20-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development representing a long step forward in the evolution of the Atlantic Community by linking the nations of Western Europe and North America in a common economic bond.

In his first State of the Union message on January 30, 1961, the late President emphasized that "the American economy is in trouble" and immediately followed up with his message of February 2 outlining his program for economic recovery and growth.  In response to this message, on March 22, the Congress sent to the President a bill extending jobless pay benefits an additional 13 weeks.  We immediately followed this with a bill making dependent children, whose parents were unemployed, eligible for the same aid given to children deprived of support by reason of death, desertion, or disability.  On April 26 the late President received the depressed areas bill authorizing $394 million in loans and grants for areas beset by chronic unemployment, and the Senate this year authorized an additional $455.5 million for the Area Redevelopment Administration.  We improved social security retirement and survivor benefits by about $800 million a year.  And by May 3 of 1961, Congress sent down to the White House a bill raising the minimum wage for 23.9 million workers from $1 an hour to $1.25, and extended coverage for the first time since 1938 to an estimated 3.6 million additional workers.

Congress responded to the President’s balance-of-payments message by sending him a bill to accord uniform tax treatment to the dollar holdings of foreign central banks.  It reduced the value of duty-free goods Americans might bring back from abroad and provided for a U.S. Travel Service in the Commerce Department to encourage foreign tourists to visit the United States.

In response to this community health program, the late President signed into law on July 20, 1961, a bill almost doubling the amount authorized for grants by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act—raising the authorization to $80 million in fiscal 1962, $90 million in fiscal 1963, and $100 million in each of the next 4 years.  Public Health Service funds were increased by $738 million for the National Institutes of Health.

The President requested adequate housing for all.  In response Congress enacted a $4.88 billion omnibus housing bill, the most far-reaching housing legislation since 1949.  And this year it authorized an additional $50 million for housing aid to the low-income elderly.

An omnibus farm bill signed into law on August 8, 1961, granted President Kennedy the aids he wanted for the farmer.  Acreage retirement programs and regional authority for marketing orders, for example, were extended to many new crops and $4.5 billion in new authority for Public Law 480, and expanded credit was made available to small farmers through Farmers Home Administration.

The year 1962 began as a historic year.  On February 20, Marine Lt. Col. John H. Glenn returned safely from a three-orbit space flight.  This was the beginning.  The President decided to expand space exploration to include a landing on the moon and, to that end, the 87th Congress voted a record budget of $5.4 billion.

Throughout 1962 the late President gave the highest priority to his trade and tax proposals.  His trade program, as enacted into law, allowed him wide latitude in negotiating tariffs with other nations over a 5-year period and gave him more tools to ease the burdens on segments of American business and labor during the transition to freer trade patterns.  As expressed by Senator Cooper of Kentucky: "The passage of this bill is a signal achievement of the administration and the Congress during the present session."  Senator McCarthy of Minnesota described it as a "forward-looking and far-reaching bill which faces up to the challenges of a rapidly changing world, a world in which yesterday’s formulas are no longer adequate for today’s problems."

On taxes, the Congress enacted the first omnibus tax revision bill since 1954, an accomplishment which was considered essential by both President Kennedy and Secretary of Treasury Dillon.

 It was in that year action was completed on the $435 million 3-year manpower retraining program and $400 million was voted in special accelerated public works funds.  This year we have authorized an additional $161 million for the manpower training program in fiscal 1964.  At the urging of Congress, teeth were put into an international agreement to regulate trade in cotton textiles between low-wage countries, the United States, and several European countries.

Congress authorized a loan of up to $100 million to the U.N. to assist in a financial crisis caused by peace-keeping operations in the Middle East and the Congo.  In the midst of the Cuban crisis, President Kennedy was given standby authority, for 1 year, to call up 150,000 members of the Ready Reserve to active duty.  Congress cleared a concurrent resolution expressing U.S. determination to resist any violation of its rights in Berlin.

Congress authorized a private corporation to establish, own, and operate a commercial communications satellite system.

It increased by $466 million the Small Business Administration’s revolving loan fund.

It granted a 4½-year extension to the expiring Sugar Act and, in a rider, allocated additional sugar quotas to the Western Hemisphere.

It provided Federal aid to education television outlets.

It increased postal rates and Federal pay.

It adopted a Constitutional amendment to abolish the poll tax as a qualification for voting in Federal elections and primaries, an amendment now very close to ratification by the required number of States.

It gave Federal assistance to the States and local communities for a program of immunization of all children under 5 years of age against polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, or tetanus.

It modernized the conflict-of-interest laws.

This year Congress convened on January 9 and on January 14 the biennial struggle over rule 22, the cloture rule, kept the Senate occupied until February 7, thereby delaying committee assignments until February 14.  In the meantime, on February 6, the House Ways and Means Committee opened hearings on the President’s tax cut and reform proposal.  After many months of hearings and 80 executive sessions, the House sent the bill to the Senate on September 25.  Although hearings have been completed and executive consideration underway, it will possibly be late January before the Senate can complete action on the bill.

One of our earliest actions this year was to authorize President Kennedy to proclaim Sir Winston Churchill an honorary citizen of the United States.  It was an unusual action to give tangible form to the high esteem in which the 88-year-old former Prime Minister of Britain, the son of an American mother, is held in this Nation.

Another of the early actions of 1963 was to give statutory authority to the Interior Department’s Outdoor Recreation Bureau which had been established by Executive order in 1962 to formulate a nationwide outdoor recreation plan.

In order to obtain more effective Federal performance on scientific and technological programs, the Senate, on March 8, took positive action to establish a Commission on Science and Technology.   By April 10 the Senate had sent to the House a bill establishing a Youth Conservation Corps and a Home Town Youth Corps in answer to the President’s special message on February 14 in which he said:

* * * To the extent that the Nation is called upon to promote and protect the interest of our younger citizens, it is an investment certain to bring a high return, not only in basic human values but in social and economic terms. * * *

Prior to action on the Youth Conservation Corps, the Senate, on April 4, passed the mass transit bill, authorizing $375 million in grants based on the concept of $2 in Federal grants for every $1 in local or other non-Federal funds, to establish a long-range program of assistance to urban areas in solving their mass transportation problems.  In the President’s letter of February 18 to Congress, he stated:

Urban mass transportation is one of the most urgent problems facing the Nation and the Congress. * * * Nearly three-fourths of our citizens live in urban areas, which occupy only 2 percent of our land, and if mass transit is to survive and relieve the congestion of these cities, it needs Federal stimulation and assistance.

On April 9 we successfully passed a bill establishing a national wilderness preservation system, placing 8.2 million acres of national forest, already classified as wilderness, permanently in the wilderness system and an additional 57.2 million acres of public lands conditionally in the system.

By April 23 the Senate had acted on an administration bill guaranteeing electric consumers in the Pacific Northwest first call on hydro-electric energy generated at Federal plants in the region.  On the same day the Senate completed action on another administration bill establishing water resources research centers at land-grant colleges and State universities to stimulate a national program of water research.

Since 1946 the Congress has had before it a recommendation to require equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex.  President Kennedy, in signing the bill into law on June 10, said:

* * * I am grateful to those Members who worked so diligently to guide the Equal Pay Act through Congress.  It is a first step.  It affirms our determination that when women enter the labor force, they will find equality in their pay envelopes. * * *

The Senate took rapid action on the President’s request to ratify the International Coffee Agreement, making the United States a party to the agreement.  This action was designed to stabilize coffee prices and insure exporting countries that their foreign exchange reserves would not be severely depleted by low coffee prices on the world market.

Early in the year, President Kennedy sent down his special message on “Mental Illness and Mental Retardation,” calling for a bold new approach by Federal, State, and local governments to combat mental disability.  The Senate, on May 27, approved part of this request by completing action on a bill expanding facilities for treatment of mental disabilities.  The President in his message pointed out that there were currently 800,000 patients in mental institutions across the Nation, including 200,000 who are retarded and need assistance.  Facilities, in turn, are needed to provide this assistance.

Congress sent the late President a law responding to his request for amendments to the Social Security Act to provide addition Federal assistance to States and communities in preventing and combating mental retardation, by providing for both new grant programs and expansion of the existing maternal and child health and crippled children’s programs.  In this measure we also included a program for training teachers of exceptional children.

On June 10 of this year the late President sent down his omnibus civil rights message in which he said:

* * * I am proposing that the Congress stay in session this year until it has enacted—preferably as a single omnibus bill—the most responsible, reasonable, and urgently needed solutions to this problem, solutions which should be acceptable to all fair-minded men.

The House Judiciary Committee reported its bill a few weeks ago, and it is now before the House Rules Committee—with a discharge petition filed on December 9.  Although final action will not be taken on this measure until early next year, a 1-year extension to the Civil Rights Commission was voted together with additional funds to carry on this valuable work.

The Senate took final action on an administration request authorizing Federal judicial circuits to establish a public defender system at public expense, citing the 1963 Supreme Court ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright in which the Court stated:

That Government hires lawyers to prosecute and defendants who have money hire lawyers to defend are the strongest indications of the widespread belief that lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries. * * *

The life of the Export-Import Bank was extended for 5 years, and its borrowing authority was increased to $8 billion in the maximum amount allowable at any one time for insurance and guarantees.

After debate disclosed that during the past 10 years the U.S. fishing industry had dropped to fifth place in the total world catch and was currently facing a crisis, the Senate, this year, authorized a 5-year program of $28,250,000 in matching grants to the States to promote State commercial fishery research and development projects.

Congress succeeded in clearing a badly needed pay raise for the military, amounting to approximately $1.2 billion a year effective on October 1, 1963, the first such raise for the military since 1958.

And on August 14 the Senate completed action on an administration bill establishing a domestic National Service Corps patterned after the Peace Corps and authorizing $15 million for the 2-year pilot program.On July 22 President Kennedy sent to Congress a proposal that solutions to the 4-year old-work rules dispute between railroad management and labor over the composition of train crews be submitted to the ICC. On August 28, just 6 hours before a nationwide rail strike was to begin, President Kennedy signed into law a resolution creating an ad hoc 7-member arbitration board to resolve the two primary issues—manning the train crews and firemen on diesel locomotives—thus averting a nationwide strike. This action marked the first time in peacetime labor relations that Congress imposed arbitration in a labor-management dispute.

In the area of education, it has been said that the 88th Congress has “the greatest record in the field of education in the history of this Nation.” In response to the President’s request he was sent, on September 12, the medical training aid bill authorizing a 3-year program of matching Federal grants for construction or rehabilitation of medical, dental, and related professional schools and a 6-year loan program for students of medicine, dentistry, and osteopathy. Similar legislation had been considered without success by every Congress since 1951. Two additional bills requested by the late President have been signed into law by President Johnson. One authorizes a 3-year $1.2 billion program of grants and loans for construction of college academic facilities at public and private higher education institutions. The other is a vocational education bill authorizing new matching grants to the States to expand vocational education programs while extending the National Defense Education Act and the impacted areas program. In addition, the Senate has completed action on a library services bill to increase Federal aid for expanding public library improvements to urban as well as rural areas and to authorize matching grants for construction of public library buildings. At the same time Congress has extended the provisions of title II of the National Defense Education Act of 1958 relating to cancellation of loans, to teachers in private nonprofit elementary and secondary schools and in institutions of higher education.

Finally, there has been enacted a Clear Air Act authorizing $95 million over a 4-year period to provide a greatly expanded national effort to control air pollution through research, the establishment of pollution and control agencies, and legal action to halt existing causes of pollution.

With action hoped for next year on the tax cut proposal, the civil rights program, and aid for the aged in ill health, the most far reaching impetus in many decades toward social and economic improvement within the Nation and toward a more stable peace in the world, will have received a sound legislative base. In cooperation with President Johnson, the Congress will strive to establish this base as a lasting testament to the life and work of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President in the service of the people of the United States.Below is a detailed description of our 3-year review highlights, which includes presidential recommendations and measures initiated by the Congress.