Fair Employment Legislation in Congress
An active mobilization of Republican support for the administration's bill to create a permanent Fair Employment Practice Commission is now under way at Washington. The F. E. P. C. bill is the only measure on President Truman's domestic program that has received substantial endorsement from Republican leaders in the House and Senate. Republicans believe their party can gain an important advantage in the 1946 congressional elections in industrial states-and can widen a split in the ranks of the majority party-by forcing the F. E. P. C. issue at this time.
The F. E. P. C. bill is now pending on the floor of the Senate, but when-or whether-a vote on its passage will be reached is problematical. A motion by Sen. Chavez (D., N. M.) to take up the bill as the first order of business for the 1946 session was adopted by the Senate, Jan. 17, 49 to 17, after heated debate. Sen. George (D., Ga.) condemned the leadership of his party for allowing such legislation to come to the floor “at this time of industrial crisis.” Chavez replied: “God pity the Democratic senators unless they keep liberal and pass such bills as the F. E. P. C.” When the bill was formally laid before the Senate, a filibuster to force its displacement was immediately launched by Democratic senators from the South.
Bipartisan Support for a Permanent F. E. P. C.
President Truman has long supported legislation to control discriminatory practices in employment. He asked the House Rules Committee, in a letter June 5, 1945, to “adopt a rule permitting this legislation to be voted upon by the members of the House as quickly as possible.” In his reconversion message to Congress, Sept. 6, the President spoke of the “substantial progress” toward elimination of prejudice that had been made during the war and said “this American ideal” should be maintained as “an integral part of our economy.” In his radio appeal for popular support of his legislative program, Jan. 6, 1946, he criticized the “small handful of congressmen in the Rules Committee” who were blocking the F. E. P. C. bill in the House and said “I am sure that the overwhelming mass of our citizens favor this legislation and want their congressmen to vote for it.”