White Sees Battle Over Housing Bill
Lee White, civil rights advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, yesterday predicted a long series of delays in the passage of this year's anti-discriminatory Housing Bill.
White, an honorary associate of the Kennedy Institute, who is Chairman of the Federal Power Commission, suggested in an interview yesterday that the present bill will be much harder to pass than the two previous ones of the Johnson administration.
"I hope we can make it (with this bill) by 1967 or 68," he said. The earlier ones were aimed at Southern institutions, but this one will be harder because it is aimed at the North. "Northern housing is a tough nut to crack," he said.
"Congressmen are not likely to receive pressure to vote for a bill which many people think will be disruptive to their own neighborhoods," he explained.
The G.O.P. nomination of a liberal candidate in 1968 would help to get the bill passed, White suggested, because both parties would be vying for the Negro vote.
The new bill is designed to "ease neighborhood disruptiveness," White said, by providing a three-stage process to phase out discrimination.
Turning to the issue of Black Power, White suggested that Black Power civil rights groups have had both beneficial and harmful effects on the Negro community in this country.
On the one hand, it has made it more difficult to get legislation through the Congress. But it has also caused "a growing awareness of the political power the vote possesses," he said, and "that's about the best face I can put on Black Power."
White also said that he was "sorely distressed" at the disaffection of students from the government. He called for an exploration, by both the administration and the academic communities, of "the ways communication can be effectively expanded."
As an example of what he termed lack of communication, White suggested that students who oppose American foreign policy in Vietnam sometimes feel that the President acts arbitrarily -- basing his actions on "hunches" rather than sober reflection.
But, White said, his own experiences in policy making sessions had showed him that there was a painstaking background work that "does not seem to come through the mass media." The President follows a detailed analytical process to arrive at these momentous decisions," he added.