McCain “Was Wrong” Voting Against Martin Luther King Holiday; How Other Congressional Members Voted

On Friday, John McCain gave a speech at the National Civil Rights Museum (formerly the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated) in Memphis, TN.  Friday was the 40th anniversary of King’s assassination.  During the speech, McCain noted that he originally voted against making King’s birthday a federal holiday.  He went on to say the following (there’s a video below the quote):

“We can be slow as well to give greatness its due, a mistake I made myself long ago when I voted against a federal holiday in memory of Dr. King.  I was wrong. [Audience] I was wrong. [Audience] And eventually realized that, in time to give full support for a state holiday in Arizona. [Audience: “We forgive you.”  “Everyone makes mistakes.”] I’d remind you we can all be a little late sometimes in doing the right thing, and Dr. King understood this about his fellow Americans.”

The resolution (H.R. 3706), passed the House on August 2, 1983, 338-90 with 5 not voting and the Senate on October 19, 78-22.  So, just who all voted against the resolution?

House of Representatives:

  • Douglas Applegate (D-OH-18)
  • William Reynolds Archer, Jr. (R-TX-7)
  • Robert Badham (R-CA-40)
  • Steve Bartlett (R-TX-3)
  • Herbert Bateman (R-VA-1)
  • Michael Bilirakis (R-FL-9)
  • Hank Brown (R-CO-4)
  • Carroll Cambell, Jr. (R-SC-4)
  • William Carney (R-NY-1)
  • William Clinger (R-PA-23)
  • Barber Conable, Jr. (R-NY-30)
  • Larry Craig (R-ID-1)
  • Daniel Crane (R-IL-19)
  • Philip Crane (R-IL-12)
  • Dan Daniel (D-VA-5)
  • William Dannemeyer (R-CA-39)
  • Bill Dickinson (R-AL-2)
  • David Dreier (R-CA-33)
  • John Erlenborn (R-IL-13)
  • Bobbi Fiedler (R-CA-21)
  • Jack Fields (R-TX-8)
  • Webb Franklin (R-MS-2)
  • Bill Frenzel (R-MN-3)
  • William Goodling (R-PA-19)
  • Phil Gramm (R-TX-6)
  • Sam Hall, Jr. (D-TX-1)
  • John Paul Hammerschmidt (R-AR-3)
  • James Hansen (R-UT-1)
  • Marjorie Holt (R-MD-4)
  • Earl Hutto (D-FL-1)
  • Andy Ireland (R-FL-10)
  • James Jeffords (R-VT)
  • Ed Jenkins (D-GA-9)
  • Thomas Kindness (R-OH-8)
  • Ken Kramer (R-CO-5)
  • Robert Lagomarsino (R-CA-19)
  • Delbert Latta (R-OH-5)
  • Marvin Leath (D-TX-11)
  • Tom Loeffler (R-TX-21)
  • Trent Lott (R-MS-5)
  • Manuel Lujan, Jr. (R-NM-1)
  • Ron Marlenee (R-MT-2)
  • David Marriott (R-UT-2)
  • Lynn Martin (R-IL-16)
  • James Martin (R-NC-9)
  • David Martin (R-NY-26)
  • John McCain (R-AZ-1)
  • Al McCandless (R-CA-37)
  • Bill McCollum (R-FL-5)
  • Larry McDonald (D-GA-7)
  • Clarence Miller (R-OH-10)
  • Guy Molinari (R-NY-14)
  • G. V. “Sonny” Montgomery (D-MS-3)
  • William Moore III (R-LA-6)
  • Carlos Moorhead (R-CA-22)
  • Bill Nichols (D-AL-3)
  • Howard Nielson (R-UT-3)
  • Ron Packard (R-CA-43)
  • Chip Pashayan (R-CA-17)
  • Ron Paul (R-TX-22)
  • Thomas Petri (R-WI-6)
  • Carl Pursell (R-MI-2)
  • James Quillen (R-TN-1)
  • Richard Ray (D-GA-3)
  • James Robinson (R-VA-7)
  • Hal Rogers (R-KY-5)
  • Toby Roth (R-WI-8)
  • Eldon Rudd (R-AZ-4)
  • Dan Schaefer (R-CO-6)
  • Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-9)
  • Richard Shelby (D-AL-7)
  • Norman Shumway (R-CA-14)
  • Bud Shuster (R-PA-9)
  • Virginia Smith (R-NE-3)
  • Denny Smith (R-OR-5)
  • Robert Smith (R-OR-2)
  • Gene Snyder (R-KY-4)
  • Gerald Solomon (R-NY-24)
  • Floyd Spence (R-SC-2)
  • Arlan Stangeland (R-MN-7)
  • Charles Stenholm (D-TX-17)
  • Bob Stump (R-AZ-3)
  • Don Sundquist (R-TN-7)
  • Tom Tauke (R-IA-2)
  • Gene Taylor (R-MO-7)
  • Barbara Vucanovich (R-NV-2)
  • George Whitehurst (R-VA-2)
  • Larry Winn, Jr. (R-KS-3)
  • C. W. Bill Young (R-FL-8)
  • James Scheuer (D-NY-8) did not vote on the resolution, although he was present that day.


  • James Abdnor (R-SD)
  • John East (R-NC)
  • Jim Exon (D-NE)
  • Jake Garn (R-UT)
  • Barry Goldwater (R-AZ)
  • Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
  • Chic Hecht (R-NV)
  • Jesse Helms (R-NC)
  • Gordon Humphrey (R-NH)
  • Roger Jepsen (R-IA)
  • James McClure (R-ID)
  • Frank Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Don Nickles (R-OK)
  • Larry Pressler (R-SC)
  • Jennings Randolph (D-WV)
  • Warren Rudman (R-NH)
  • John Stennis (D-MS)
  • Steve Symms (R-ID)
  • John Tower (R-TX)
  • Malcom Wallop (R-WY)
  • Edward Zorinsky (D-NE)

(Just a note – this post is coming so late, because I tried to get to the library to get the above records, but it was closed the first two times I went, and then, the Congressional Record for 1983 was missing – the ONE year I need, and it’s the only year missing. so I was able to find the information in the Journal of the House of Representatives and the Journal of the Senate.)

I’ve gotta say, I don’t agree that it should be a holiday, and here’s why: it sets a bad precedent.  Why should we honor just one civil rights activist (a great activist at that), but why just King?  What about César Chávez?We should honor all activists, from Morris Dees, to Rosa Parks, to César Chávez, to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Is it perhaps too late to change it now?  Probably, but in the future, if the situation presents itself, I think we should change it.

And I’d like to note something else – my college, Central Michigan University, recently switched giving students off Good Friday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Doctor King, a good Christian man, NEVER would have supported this – he would have been horrified of something like that.  The best way to honor Doctor King is to honor his beliefs, not his person.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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7 Responses to “McCain “Was Wrong” Voting Against Martin Luther King Holiday; How Other Congressional Members Voted”

  1. Bill Says:

    I agree with you that MLK Jr. b-day should not be a national holiday because it does set a bad precedent. I also believe that it was created under pressure from minority groups and was approved out of a sense of guilt rather than on its own merits. Considering that men who have done more for ALL of America do not have such a holiday in their name, why did we do this? I think it was appeasement, and that is what Senator McCain is doing now – appeasing in order to gain favor with potential voters of a particular race.
    Again, MLK Jr., from what we are told of him, would not favor that. We are supposed to be color blind, not do something because of someone’s skin color. So we really are not color blind, are we? And who is promoting racial preference the most? It is the same people who claim to be color blind. Ridiculous.

  2. inkslwc Says:

    I would agree, although I didn’t say it in the post – I think a lot of members DID vote for it out of appeasement.

  3. Frank J. Burris Says:

    Thank you very much for posting this. I have wondered for a while if Ron Paul voted for or against the MLK holiday. As a Ron Paul supporter, I’m deeply disappointed to see he didn’t support it. It makes his statements citing MLK as a “hero” appear to be a means of covering his ass over those newsletters.

    I appreciate your point about making a hoilday to honor ALL civil rights figures, but I think in the public’s mind the theme would be dilluted. Although on the other hand, I don’t know too many people who actually think about MLK on his holiday…

    Thanks again.

    Frank J. Burris

  4. inkslwc Says:

    Frank, I understand where you’re coming from, but before you get disappointed, I’d try to dig up some info on why he voted that way. (Sorry – I just don’t have time to do it myself). If he voted that way because he thought, as I do, it sets a bad precedent, it makes a difference than if he just voted against it for racial reasons.

  5. Reflecting on Martin Luther King Jr. « Republican Ranting Says:

    […] Luther King Jr. By inkslwc As many of you know, today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  As I’ve said before, I oppose MLK Day being a federal holiday for 2 […]

  6. Bill McCollum’s Martin Luther King Jr. problem : The Reid Report Says:

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  7. ITT Tech Virtual Library Says:

    ITT Tech Virtual Library…

    McCain “Was Wrong” Voting Against Martin Luther King Holiday; How Other Congressional Members Voted « Republican Ranting…

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