The 88th Congress

As the historic 88th Congress drew to a close in the fall of 1964, Time Magazine’s Capitol Hill reporter, Neil MacNeil, offered his appraisal. “Much of the time, the Congress looked clumsy and awkward. The Senate staggered through two debilitating and seemingly senseless filibusters,” he wrote. “The House seemed constantly in need of someone to wipe its nose.” (Much the same could be said about our current Congress.)

“The members of both parties in both chambers were constantly complaining and caterwauling at their frustrated, bewildered, confused, and pitiful condition. No one appreciated them. They were led by inept leaders—so they protested,” MacNeil reported.

But appearances deceived: “If this congress [sic] frequently looked inept and bamboozled, it was moving all the same at the very same time implacably toward its impressive record.” As MacNeil concluded, “Beyond cavil, the record already in hand is one of the most extraordinary in the nation’s legislative history.”

MacNeil’s 13-page report macneil_reports_88th.pdf describes the 88th Congress’s achievements and analyzes the roles President John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson played.