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Normally, the bill would have been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator James O. Given Eastland's firm opposition, it seemed impossible that the bill would reach the Senate floor.

By the time of the 1963 winter recess, 50 signatures were still needed.

After the return of Congress from its winter recess, however, it was apparent that public opinion in the North favored the bill and that the petition would acquire the necessary signatures. and Malcolm X at the United States Capitol on March 26, 1964.

When the bill came before the full Senate for debate on March 30, 1964, the "Southern Bloc" of 18 southern Democratic Senators and one Republican Senator led by Richard Russell (D-GA) launched a filibuster to prevent its passage.

Said Russell: "We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states." The most fervent opposition to the bill came from Senator Strom Thurmond (D-SC): "This so-called Civil Rights Proposals, which the President has sent to Capitol Hill for enactment into law, are unconstitutional, unnecessary, unwise and extend beyond the realm of reason.

Kennedy was moved to action following the elevated racial tensions and wave of black riots in the spring 1963.Emulating the Civil Rights Act of 1875, Kennedy's civil rights bill included provisions to ban discrimination in public accommodations, and to enable the U. Attorney General to join in lawsuits against state governments which operated segregated school systems, among other provisions.Two days later, Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen and Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield both voiced support for the president's bill, except for provisions guaranteeing equal access to places of public accommodations.This led to several Republican Congressmen drafting a compromise bill to be considered.