October 10, 1966. Home rule for Washington, D.C. fails for the final time in the 89th Congress, when a cloture motion to forestall a Southern filibuster falls short by 11 votes. The nation’s capital city will continue to have no local representative government and no representation in Congress. While home rule bills passed both the House and Senate in 1965, the differences between the bills proved irreconcilable both in 1965 and in 1966. LBJ considered home rule in majority-black DC to be a civil rights issue, and he had urged the adoption of the Senate bill in his 1966 State of the Union.
The battle for home rule had launched a new activist group headed by Marion Barry, the Free D.C. Movement. Some other civil rights groups, though strong supporters of home rule, were put off by the new Movement’s aggressive tactics. Staunchly aligned against home rule were Southern Senators like LBJ’s old friend Richard Russell and some powerful local organizations like the Board of Trade. LBJ’s ardent supporter—and sometime critic —Senator Wayne Morse had attached the home rule bill to a college aid bill in a last-ditch attempt at passage, but despite the support of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, among others, home rule proponents will have to wait until the next Congress to try again.
Photo by Rob Shenk via Flickr Creative Commons.