The Political Environment

The landscape in which Congress legislated in 1965 was shaped not only by President Lyndon Johnson’s push for vast liberal reforms, but also by the interests of voting constituents in congressional districts and states, and the influence of social movements and domestic and international events. When the 89th Congress began, the American economy was booming, the American people had voted in support of broad liberal legislation, and just six months prior, Congress had passed the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. The grassroots Civil Rights movement continued to push for reforms and, throughout 1965, faced violent confrontations. At the same time, the situation in South Vietnam was becoming increasingly tenuous, and President Johnson responded by escalating attacks, eventually dispatching thousands of additional troops to the conflict and increasing anti-war activity at home.