Hubert Humphrey, Edward Kennedy, Philip Hart

Senator Edward Kennedy calls Vice President Hubert Humphrey to discuss a possible compromise on his Poll Tax amendmant to the Voting Rights Bill.

Edward Kennedy: Hello? Mr. Vice-President?

Vice-President Humphrey: Yes, Ted?

Kennedy: Hello, how are you?

Humphrey: Fine.

Kennedy: Sorry to interrupt you.

Humphrey: It’s all right.

Kennedy: Listen, I’m in my office now with Senator [Philip] Hart and Joe [unclear], the members of the Council of Churches and some of the members of the AFL-CIO.1

Humphrey: Yeah.

Kennedy: We’ve been talking this morning. I know we’re in—we’re moving into about the last 50 minutes—

Humphrey: Yeah.

Kennedy: —before we go on the floor. It’s the feeling that they’ve reached some decision on this and wanted to see whether this would be—that the—whether the leadership would be willing to consider this position.

Humphrey: Yes, sir.

Kennedy: Would you be interested in at least exploring it? Or—

Humphrey: I surely would. In fact, I’m sitting here talking with the President and others here right now about it.

Kennedy: Fine. Well, now, this would be the declaration and a finding, and the Attorney General’s provisions. So it would be section A and section 3 with the elimination of the ban.

Humphrey: Yeah.

Kennedy: It would also include the reestablishment of the poll-watch provisions and also the state-registrars. The—not—going to the state reg[istrars]—going to the federal registrars rather than the state registrars. This was an amendment which was introduced in the committee and passed, and it was changed again in the “Mansfield-Dirksen substitute.”2

Humphrey: I got you.

Kennedy: That would be the tacic—

Humphrey: Yeah.

Kennedy: —situation. And then they’re going to have roll call votes on those other two anyway.

Humphrey: Yes.

Kennedy: This is—if they could work this out, then I’d—what we’d like to do, see if we could—at that time, if this was—the leadership would be acceptable, then at that time, we’d like some time to see whether we could possibly convince the—our friends in the leadership conference to be willing to go along on this.

Humphrey: Yeah. Now, let me just get it again. The declaration and finding, and then, skip B and then come to C, which is the Attorney General—

Kennedy: Yeah.

Humphrey: —Justice. And then your D is the provision in case—that is sort of a saving clause there, isn’t it? You’ve got about—

Kennedy: Yeah, that’s the—that would . . . that probably wouldn’t be necessary without the ban in there.

Humphrey: Yeah.

Kennedy: The only trouble is, it’s—the last part of the savings clause, Hubert, it's got that 45 day payment—

Humphrey: Well, I think we might want to have all of that.

Kennedy: You’d like—we might like to have it, but—

Humphrey: Yeah.

Kennedy: —you know, we’re not—but it’s—it’d be the—our finding, our C—you take out the ban—

Humphrey: Mm-hmm.

Kennedy: —the part about the—the savings clause, you know, can go either way.

Humphrey: Yeah.

Kennedy: And the 45 days is helpful, but the—the other aspect of it isn’t necessary. The second point is on the registrars . . .

Humphrey: Mm-hmm.

Kennedy: . . . that we—I mean, on the poll-watchers to reinstitute the possibility for poll-watchers without going through the court procedure.

Humphrey: Did you have that in your bill?

Kennedy: Yes, we did.

Humphrey: And that was dropped?

Kennedy: That was dropped.

Humphrey: Mm-hmm.

Kennedy: And the other part, the deal of going—not having to go to a state registrar before you go to a federal registrar, we had that part changed so that they could just go to a federal registrar.

Humphrey: Mm-hmm.

Kennedy: It was reinstituted in the Mansfield—

Humphrey: Mansfield-Dirksen.

Kennedy: Yeah.

Humphrey: Well, listen. I’ll be on over there immediately, and I’ll try to get some support here on this and come on over.

Kennedy: OK.

Humphrey: And I’ll be with—I’ll call you just as soon as I get in over at the other office.

Kennedy: Right.

Humphrey: You bet.

Philip A. Hart: [Unclear] Vice-President?

Humphrey: Yes?

Hart: Phil Hart.

Humphrey: Yes, Phil?

Hart: I’ve been on this call, and Ted is . . . behaved magnificently and . . .

Humphrey: I should say.

Hart: . . . his conference with the—Joe [unclear] and [unclear] and others—

Humphrey: Yes.

Hart: —we’re running out of time

Humphrey: I know that.

Hart: So that we’ll simply have to stand and wait.

Humphrey: Well, I’ll be there in a few minutes.

Hart: All right.

Humphrey: I’ll see what I can do. We'll get ahold of Nick [Nicholas Katzenbach], too.

Hart: Good.

Humphrey: All right.

Hart: Yes. Yes.

Humphrey: You bet.

Kennedy: Thanks.

Humphrey: Bye-bye.

  • 1. The acronym AFL-CIO stands for American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations.
  • 2. Senator Kennedy is referring to successful efforts by Senator Michael J. Mansfield [D-Montana] and Senator Everett M. Dirksen [R-Illinois] to eliminate the ban on poll taxes from the proposed Voting Rights Act of 1965 on 11 May 1965.

Original tape courtesy of LBJ Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.