The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Lyndon B. Johnson
Remarks on the Accomplishments of the 89th Congress.
October 15, 1966

THE PRESIDENT [addressing Members of the Congress assembled in the East Room]: We have scheduled at 1:30 the report of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the distinguished majority leader of the Senate on the 89th Congress.

And I do not want to keep either of them waiting. Because I make certain predictions in my statement that include the hope, and the possibility, and I think, the belief that if I can get them back to the Hill promptly, maybe we can break all records for the successful production of a Congress that has been functioning now very effectively and with great pride for 174 years.

So those of you that care to, we would like for you--you are welcome to remain. We don't want you to feel that you are a captive audience.

But we will now present the Speaker and have a brief statement from the Speaker and the majority leader. And I will conclude it and then we will be glad to continue to individually greet each of you here that may care to do that.

It is with great pride that I now present the beloved and productive and most respected Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives, my longtime, devoted friend, John McCormack.

THE SPEAKER. Mr. President, the report that I make to you this afternoon will be brief.

I can sum up the record of the 89th Congress of this House of Representatives in just one word--fabulous. We have been fortunate to have many outstanding Congresses: the 59th, under Theodore Roosevelt; the 63d, under Woodrow Wilson; the great 73d, under Franklin Roosevelt.

Then in my fourth term, I was proud to be a Member of that 73d Congress which gave life and force to the New Deal.

But this Nation has never witnessed anything like the fabulous 89th Congress, both sessions of this Congress. It has surpassed them all. Not because it has produced more legislation than any previous Congress, but because this legislation will have more meaning and deeper significance for every American than any in the past.

This Congress has heard what you have had to say, Mr. President, and has left this country a legacy of greatness.

I would like to add that in this Congress, unlike any in my memory, the second session has been just as productive as the first. These achievements do not take place magically or overnight. They are the fruits of hard work, of intense deliberation and debate, by the most dedicated Democratic Congress I have seen in my 38 years as a Member of the House.

Many, many Members of Congress, of course, merit our gratitude, but the freshmen Democratic Congressmen who provided the margin of victory in so many vital legislative battles deserve special emphasis in relation to credit.

By their words and their deeds they won their stripes in the 89th Congress, and this country needs them back again.

This, Mr. President, completes my report. We are looking forward with hope and anticipation to an even greater 90th Congress next year.

THE PRESIDENT. Now, ladies and gentlemen, I don't know any more difficult job in this country, and certainly not in this Government, than the job of being majority leader of the United States Senate.

And I don't know of any man that ever held that job that did it so well with such universal affection and respect from not only every Member of that body, but from every Member of the Cabinet and the President himself.

I take great pride and pleasure in presenting to you one of the most beloved men in this country, and one of my most trusted and loyal friends of many years, Mike Mansfield.

SENATOR MANSFIELD. Mr. President, I am here this afternoon to report briefly to you on the state of the great 89th Congress. In just a few days, the curtain will ring down on 2 years of towering legislative achievement.

Throughout this period, the Senate started early and worked late. You set a large and demanding task before us. The Congress met that challenge as concerned and compassionate legislators. The Senate of the 89th Congress was infused with the excitement of great expectations.

In these two sessions, we have written into the statue books legislation whose scope and excellence have never been equaled in the history of the Republic.

Mr. President, when we finish our work, the second session will add its full share to the first in its achievements. The American people are the beneficiaries.

This legislation has increased the opportunities of so very many, and has brightened the hopes of all. As one whose home was once on the Hill, you know the pride that comes from accomplishment and the fulfillment that flows from a job well done. We are very proud of our record, and I am glad that we can share this moment with you.

So, Mr. President, as you undertake your mission of peace and good will to Asia, I speak for all of us in the Senate again when I say Godspeed and our very best wishes to you for a most successful journey.

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Majority Leader, Members of Congress, distinguished guests:

In the history of our country, certainly in the past, most Americans have been rather cynical about their party platforms. But this year I believe that Americans have changed their way of thinking, for this year the Democratic Party has lived up to its platform.

To enact our 1964 platform, the President recommended 170 important bills, including what we call 60 "landmark measures." The 89th Congress has passed, or we believe will pass, more than nine out of ten of these bills. Its batting average, .900, we think is a good World Series record.

We ran on our platform. We got elected on our platform. We have enacted our platform. But even more important is what is in that platform. And I want to be, briefly, quite specific.

Let's take education. In the previous 88 Congresses, 174 years, before this administration, Congress passed only six basic education bills. The first one was in Abraham Lincoln's administration. For the next one, we had to wait for Woodrow Wilson, the next one Harry Truman, and the last three for President Eisenhower.

In the 35 months since I entered the White House, Congress has passed not six, as it did in the 174 years, but 18 basic education bills. In the first 174 years, Congress invested $5 billion 800 million for education, or an average of $33 million per year in educating our children.

The 89th Congress invested not $5 billion 800 million, but $9 billion 600 million, almost twice as much as all those other Congresses put together.

Now I think you know what this will mean for our children. And I think you will live to see what it will mean for our country.

This Congress has provided assistance to the child that is 4 or 5 years old in Head Start and carries that assistance on through elementary, secondary, vocational education, higher education, until you get a Ph.D. in college, if you can take it.

Let's take health. Outside of education, we think that health is one of our most urgent problems.

In 1798 the Public Health Service was first established. From 1798 until 1963, for 168 years, 17 major health measures were enacted--17 in 168 years.

In that time, our Federal investment for health totaled approximately $10 billion-$10 billion for that entire first 88 Congresses.

Since 1963, Congress has enacted not 17 measures, but 24 major health programs-more than were enacted in all the previous 168 years put together.

The 89th Congress will allocate $8 billion 200 million for health, including medical care--that is the granddaddy of all of them-nearly as much as Federal health expenditures for all the other 168 years put together.

Let's take conservation and beautification. The 89th Congress passed 20 major conservation measures. This morning I signed an additional seven measures to extend our parks and our scenic waterways, to save our historic sites, to preserve our natural seashores, to beautify our land for our children.

This year, this Congress will bring more than 1 million acres of land into the public domain for parks and playgrounds, near our teeming cities where our families live and our people and our children grow up.

Let's take cities. We have met with the most distinguished group of mayors of both parties from throughout this land today.
The Cities Act, the Mass Transit Act, the act to clean up our dirty water and to clean out our dirty air--begin a major battle to make American cities places where American people can live full and decent lives.

Never in the history of any Congress has so much legislation been passed affecting so many people in so many of the cities of America.

Yesterday we had the very difficult and dangerous vote, but under the leadership of the great Speaker of the House, that measure, Demonstration Cities, passed the House.

May I observe, Senator Mansfield, that I hope you and the Speaker can work out your differences. If you can't work them out here in the East Room, be sure to work them out in the Capitol, because I would like to sign that bill when I get back.

Let's take consumers: truth in packaging, auto safety, tire safety, child safety are major measures to guard the health and safety of our people.

So, in short, I could discuss all the 170 bills, but I want to summarize them.

This is the education Congress, and I hope we can remember that.

This is the health Congress, and we Will gladly compare it with all the others combined.
This is the conservation Congress. This is the cities Congress. This is the consumers Congress.

And when the historians of tomorrow write of today, they will say of the 89th Congress, in my judgment, "This was the great Congress."

In closing, I would like to mention two other matters of note.

First, this was a Congress of leaders. I don't know of anyone who illustrates this better than Carl Albert, our beloved House Majority Leader, who wanted to climb out of his hospital bed last night to go down and vote for the cities bill.

Speaker McCormack had to order him not to come. And I called him this morning and talked to him on the telephone and thanked him for not coming.

Second, this was a Congress of action. It was only 1 year ago today that I asked Bob Wood to leave his prestigious place at MIT to come to Washington to head a task force on the cities, to make recommendations for the President to submit to the Congress.

In that 1 year he has been here, he has organized that task force, he has made his recommendations, the President has transmitted them to the Congress, and the Congress has passed them through both Houses.

I want to pay tribute to Mr. Wood and to Secretary Weaver, and to all the others who have done so much to provide the basic ideas for this major legislative triumph.

I think I should observe that yesterday I looked at these major measures. I was speaking to the Senate at their invitation, to come and be with them before I go on my Asian trip. And I saw there a man who was leader of another party, who had walked in on crutches, but who was still at his post of duty. I observed that while he would not want to be associated with us on some of the measures, that on a goodly portion of these measures the leadership of both sides in the Senate had cast their votes the same way.

The record in the House is a little different. The leadership of the House minority party voted with us about 30-odd percent of the time.

Now, our problem is we have provided this legislation and we must administer it and execute it in such a manner as to bring pride to its authors and to those who helped us create it.

And to all the American people, to all the people of both parties, and particularly to the leaders who are responsible for the Congress themselves, who are here today, the last thing I want to do before I leave is to say God bless you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you have done for the American people.

Citation: Lyndon B. Johnson: "Remarks on the Accomplishments of the 89th Congress.", October 15, 1966. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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