Clair Engle represented California in the U.S. Congress as a representative from 1943 to 1959, and then as a senator from 1959 until his death in 1964. Over the course of his career, Engle’s political ideology evolved from social and fiscal conservative to liberal, earning him a 100 percent approval rating from Americans for Democratic Action. Engle fought tirelessly to expand California’s irrigation system and to procure federal money for other state projects. His competitive nature made him a rising star in the Democratic Party, where he earned the nickname “Congressman Fireball.” In 1960 he was among the candidates considered as a running mate to presidential nominee John F. Kennedy. Tragically, brain surgeries in 1963 and 1964 to combat cancer left him paralyzed on his right side and limited his ability to speak. Despite this, Engle delivered two dramatic votes during the debates over the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the first to invoke cloture and end debate on the bill, and the second in support of the bill itself. He died six weeks later.
Bourke Hickenlooper, known to his constituents as “Hick,” represented Iowa in the U.S. Senate from 1945 to 1969. During his 24 years of Senate service, Hickenlooper chaired the Republican Policy Committee and the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, and served as ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. An ardent anti-Communist, Hickenlooper opposed the censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy and sided with General Douglas MacArthur in his feud with President Truman. In 1964 Hickenlooper co-authored the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and promoted American involvement in Vietnam. After negotiating with Republican leader Everett Dirksen and bill manager Hubert Humphrey, Hickenlooper voted for cloture to end debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He did not, however, vote for the bill itself, arguing that it granted the federal government too much power over the lives of average Americans.
Jacob Javits, Republican senator from New York from 1957 to 1981, was known for his work ethic and unbounded energy. A self-described “Lincolnian,” Javits championed the rights of the average American, often supporting federal spending on health care, education, housing, and the arts and humanities. An ardent proponent of civil rights, Javits played a key role in the Senate’s passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He opposed gender discrimination and became one of the first senators to sponsor a female page in 1971. Javits also held a keen interest in world affairs. His growing disillusionment over the war in Vietnam led him to draft the 1973 War Powers Act. He also helped facilitate the 1976 Camp David Agreement. Seeking a fifth term at the age of 76, Javits was defeated in the 1980 New York Republican primary.
From 1948 until his retirement in 1973, South Dakota senator Karl Mundt was known as a fierce opponent of communism. As a memberand eventually ranking member—of the Committee on Government Operations and its Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Mundt worked to expose communists in the government. In 1954 he chaired the Subcommittee on Investigations for the Army-McCarthy hearings, remaining loyal to Senator Joseph McCarthy. Mundt gained prominence with two major investigations into bribery allegations against officials at the Agriculture Department and the Pentagon. Mundt voted for cloture to end debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 after striking a deal with Republican Leader Everett Dirksen. Mundt also became one of the leading conservationists in the Senate, which earned him an award from The World Wildlife Fund in 1969. After he suffered a debilitating stroke in 1969, Senate leaders took the unprecedented step of removing Mundt from his committee assignments.