November 3, 1983
In April of this year, I transmitted to Congress the Civil Rights Reauthorization Act of 1983. The leading features of my proposal -- a twenty-year extension of the Commission's life (the longest in history) and staggered, fixed terms for the members -- were fully consonant with the recommendations made by a unanimous Civil Rights Commission.
On August 4, the House rejected the idea of a lengthy extension and voted instead for a five-year authorization. It also rejected a proposal for specified terms, while adopting a provision which stated that commissioners could in the future be removed only for cause.
Although I continue to believe in the merits of my original proposal, I believe that we should all come together behind a reauthorization bill that will pass quickly, in the interest of saving the United States Civil Rights Commission from extinction at the end of this month. Accordingly, I very strongly urge you and your colleagues to adopt the House-passed bill, which is now being held at the Senate desk. That is the quickest and least controversial way of ensuring that the Commission's life will be extended.
There are, no doubt, those who would like to see the Commission expire. I am not one of them. The Commission's work is not done. It still has an important contribution to make to the Nation and to the cause of civil rights. I hope that the Senate will join me in the effort to guarantee the Commission's future life.
Note: The letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker, Jr.
As printed above, this item follows the text of the letter released by the Office of the Press Secretary on November 4.