Wednesday, 18 September 2019

senate joint resolution 1

After it was revealed that less than a one percent margin in the popular ballot in the US 1968 presidential election had netted Richard Nixon a domineering fifty-six percent of the electors in the Electoral College (populists George Wallace and retired General Curtis LeMay of the American Independence Party also ran), Congress came for the first and closest time in history to abolishing the institution during debates held in the chamber on this day in 1969, bi-partisan support three hundred thirty-nine in favour with seventy against.
The bill to rescind the institution through constitutional amendment, sponsored in response to public concern by Brooklyn representative Emanuel Celler (*1888 – †1981, serving in Congress just two months shy of fifty years), received endorsement by Nixon and was championed in the Senate by Birch Bayh (*1928 – †2019, whose successful bid for senator in 1962 was larger attributed to the catchy campaign jingle ‘Hey, look him over,/He’s your kind of guy./His first name is Birch,/His last name is Bayh.’).
The motion, debated in the senatorial chamber the next September, on the eighth, however encountered opposition from smaller states, fearful that they would face political marginalisation without the outsized power of their electors (see also) and progress was stymied with filibustering. Though Nixon did not publicly withdraw his support, he also refused to try to persuade any fellow Republican to alter their stance, causing the attempt to fall short of the required threshold.