November 14, 1942

Attendance at Issue
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The vice president today received authorization from the Senate to issue arrest warrants for eight senators. The rationale behind this extraordinary step is to ensure the minimum number of senators are present in session so the controversial anti-poll-tax bill can be considered. A minimum of forty-nine senators are required for the Senate to conduct business. However, despite waiting for over an hour and a half after the Senate was called to order, only forty-four senators were present for roll call. Senate sergeant-at-arms Chesley W. Jurney reported eight senators were believed to still be in Washington, all known to oppose the bill. The bill would make poll taxes illegal, intending to provide for more access to polling places for Afro-Americans. Among southern politicians opposing the bill, Senator Theodore G. Bilbo, a democrat from Mississippi, stated that, if passed, the bill “…isn’t worth the paper it is written on; not a single solitary Negro in Mississippi will be allowed to vote as a result of this bill…”, implying that passage of the bill would not improve access to polling places, which he also opposes.

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