On November 22, 1963, the Senate convened at noon and, following a prayer by Chaplain Frederick Brown Harris, proceeded to Executive Session to consider several nominations. After resuming consideration of legislative business, several senators spoke about pending legislation. Following the Senate custom of freshmen senators taking turns as presiding officer, Senator Edward Kennedy took the chair at 12:15 p.m. Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon began speaking on a bill to amend the Library Services Act. Several other senators made supportive statements, including Winston Prouty of Vermont, who was speaking when he was interrupted by Senator Morse. Still at the presiding officer’s desk, Senator Kennedy had just received word that his brother, President John F. Kennedy, had been shot. The junior senator from Massachusetts quickly left the chamber. News of the events in Dallas spread through the chamber and Senator Morse asked the Senate to yield for an emergency. Several minutes later, Senator Spessard Holland of Florida took the chair as Majority Leader Mike Mansfield hurriedly tried to dispense with the business at hand. Senator Morse again interrupted. “If ever there was an hour when all Americans should pray,” he stated simply, “this is the hour.” At 1:55 p.m., Leader Mansfield called for a recess. The Senate reconvened at 2:10 p.m., with 69 senators present, to hear Chaplain Harris deliver a prayer.
Read the full Senate proceedings in the Congressional Record on November 22, 1963.