The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, April 04, 2005

Kennedy schools aid - again

The chapter in The Use of Power (piece yesterday) is well worthwhile (I can say now I've finished it!).

The verdict of the author is the combination of race, religion and a Catholic president meant that any kind of school aid bill was doomed: JFK was bound to stay out of it as much as he could for fear of jeopardising other legislation [1]. The same consideration dictated his Macavity on civil rights.

The twists and turns are almost up to those in the Senate on what became the Civil Rights Act of 1957. One classic moment (p64) comes when the Dem Catholic Delaney (NY) joins Southern Dems and GOP members to supply the swing vote in an 8-7 vote in the Rules Committee on motions to table all the aid bills awaiting a rule to enable them to reach the House floor.

Now, a Kennedy-Delaney fist fight would have been great craic, but scarcely productive for the administration !

The most piquant irony: after Barden retired, the chair of the House Education Committee devolved upon none other than - Adam Clayton Powell!

And among his initial priorities [2] was to make clear that, not only would he be offering no Powell amendment to the upcoming education bills [3], but he'd be happy to lead the charge against any such amendment moved by anyone else!

I love these legislative case histories.

  1. The chapter says:
    By the end of the 1961 session the President could count an impressive series of legislative victories, including aid for depressed areas, broadened minimum wage coverage and a liberal housing bill.
  2. Another priority was closer to home:
    He had brought his top secretary in as committee clerk (promoting the newly wed Mrs Powell from $3,074 to $12,974 a year)...
    What with Jack and Bobby, the Dem leadership not best placed to complain about nepotism!

  3. Like hoover, it became a generic name for a civil rights rider.

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