Majority Leader Scott Lucas (D-Ill.), who led the charge to kill an amendment hindering army desegregation.
The 1948 election had been a good one for Democrats as they had won back the House and Senate. However, the session of Congress proved largely a disappointment for New Deal liberals on domestic issues, as the only major Truman program to pass Congress was the Taft-Ellender-Wagner Housing Act. This session also considered some key civil rights issues. The first was a vote on defeating the Russell Amendment. Senator Richard Russell (D-Ga.), a defender of Jim Crow laws, proposed to undermine President Truman’s desegregation order of the Armed Forces by giving enlistees a choice to serve in units of their own race. Majority Leader Scott Lucas (D-Ill.) managed to get it tabled on a vote of 42-29. 16 Democrats and 26 Republicans opposed the Russell Amendment, while 25 Democrats and 4 Republicans favored. This is vote #1 on the chart at the end of this post. A proposal for a voluntary Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC), which would have had authority to investigate employment discrimination, but not authority to take action against companies that discriminated. The only penalties that existed in this measure were for refusing to cooperate with an investigation. This was voted down as it was being filibustered, and the Senate was unable to muster enough support to overcome, as it was a 2/3’s vote. The vote was 55-33, with 22 Democrats and 33 Republicans in favor of a voluntary FEPC, while 27 Democrats and 6 Republicans voted against. This is vote #2 in the chart at the end of this post.
But wait, the social media NPC says, “the parties switched places”! I have for some time been creating my own system of rating politicians, what I call Mike’s Conservative Index. 0 is most liberal and 100 is most conservative. Just so you know I don’t pull the following numbers out of you know where, they are based on positions on the following 34 roll calls in the Senate in the 81st (1949-1950) Congress:
Roll 16, Nay; Roll 27, Yea; Roll 40, Yea; Roll 79, Yea; Roll 88, Yea; Roll 106, Nay; Roll 119, Nay; Roll 141, Yea; Roll 150, Nay; Roll 158, Yea; Roll 163, Nay; Roll 175, Yea; Roll 179, Yea; Roll 220, Nay; Roll 222, Yea; Roll 270, Yea; Roll 281, Yea; Roll 300, Nay; Roll 317, Yea; Roll 326, Nay; Roll 330, Yea; Roll 342, Yea; Roll 346, Yea; Roll 354, Nay; Roll 356, Yea; Roll 357, Nay; Roll 385, Yea; Roll 389, Nay; Roll 393, Nay; Roll 397, Yea; Roll 408, Yea; Roll 411, Yea; Roll 422, Yea; Roll 444, Yea
And no, none of these votes are the civil rights issues below. The issues include labor, price controls, foreign aid, admittance of displaced persons, and anti-communist legislation. Many of these votes are also the same ones Americans for Democratic Action used to grade politicians, except with positions reversed. Checkmarks mean the legislators announced or paired (when a legislator with a stated position can’t make the vote, another one with an opposite position can sit out, thus the outcome of the vote is unaffected by absences) for. An “X” means paired or announced against.