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U.S. Senator Clair Engle of California

The story of Clair Engle

Dying of a brain tumor, U.S. Senator voted on Civil Rights Act after being carried into the Senate on a stretcher

By David Wildstein, March 25 2020 1:47 pm

New Jersey State Assembly will make history this afternoon as they meet remotely for the first time as part of a plan to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The plan that won unanimous support from both parties as a way of keeping the Legislature open during a national emergency.

Technology has made such a system possible, but that hasn’t always been the case.

U.S. Senator Clair Engle of California was battling a life-threatening brain tumor during the summer of 1964, when the Senate was preparing to break a filibuster on the Civil Rights Act.

The 52-year-old Engle arrived at the Capitol in an ambulance and several of his aides carried him onto the Senate floor on a stretcher.

The tumor had left Engle without the ability to speak.  When his name was called to vote, he slowly lifted his arm and pointed to his eye – a signal that he wished to be recorded as “aye.”

The cloture motion passed by three votes.

He returned to the Senate nine days after that to support the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

He died six weeks later.

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