Washington (Jan. 17)
A motion to consider the FEPO bill was passed by the Senate today, on proposal of Senator Denis Chavez, Democrat of New Mexico, by vote of 53 to 14.
In the debate which followed, the bill was bitterly attacked by Senators Eastland of Mississippi, George of Georgia, and Johnson of South Carolina. Senator George assailed the Democratic Party for bringing up such “highly controversial” legislation before the President’s message to Congress had been submitted. He said that free men” on the Democratic side will not follow the party will. “If this is all Marry Truman has to offer, God help the Democratic Party in 1946 and 1948,” he said.
Senator Chavez reminded the handful of senators present in the chamber that the bill had been reported out of the Senate Education and Labor Committee on May 24, 1945, and that the President in a recent message had called attention to the need for much legislation. Answering Senator George, Chavez said:
“God pity the Democratic Senators who are chairmen of committees unless the Democratic Party Keeps liberal and passes such legislation as FEPO.” He asked if it is fair to employ a white girl and not to employ one “with a Jewish name.” He said during the war “the Levines, the Gallaghers, the Negroes and the Mexicans rallied round for their country” and were included in the casualty list, and FEPC legislation is designed to provide justice for their relatives.
Senator Johnson declared that passage of the bill would cause riots in Washington and other cities. Senator Eastland asked if the bill were not designed to give a certain number of jobs “to people who are Jews.” He said neither the Jews nor other minority groups should want the bill “If we have authority to say they cannot be discriminated against,” the Senator declared, “we have authority to say they can be.”
Eastland said that if the FEPC bill is constitutional, then legislation limiting the number of Jews engaged in interstate commerce would likewise be constitutional. He declared that “clouds of anti-Semitism” and anti-Negro prejudice are rising in this country. Denying that he is “anti-Semitic or prejudiced against any race,” he asserted that “Jews in this country, who think, are the very last ones to support such a measure.” Senator Aiken, Republican of Vermont, spoke briefly for the bill.