On the Cable Bill
April 1923 — 4th Annual Convention, League of Women Voters, Des Moines IO
I will try to give you a history of that Cable Bill which was the most dramatic and wonderful piece of legislation from two standpoints. On of these was the gratifying, glorious fact that it as over — the removal of the greatest discrimination of women after the suffrage bill was passed. The other one was that when it got underway, the Cale Bill became the winner of the blue ribbon for speed in passage over any piece of women’s legislation I have ever known anything about . . .
So she [Maud Wood Park] came to Washington, in the heat of August, looked over Congress, saw various people about the Cable Bill and they all said, “We can do nothing about the Cable Bill until the Bonus Bill is passed.”
Then she continued to go to see important and influential people and I was privileged to go with her. She would go to see a member of a committee and the gentleman in charge of the work would tell us to sit down, and then he would say, “We are interested in that legislation; you have really converted me to it and as son as we get around to it we are going to pass the Cable Bill, but — but I have a few words I wish to say on the Bonus Legislation. My mind is on that.”
Then he made that speech, which e was going to make on the floor of the Senate, to Mrs. Park. She listened to every word of it, with the utmost interest, ad a smile, and then she said, “Yes, Senator, but” — and the I knew it was going through. When she had finished, he said, “Well I do not think we can get a quorum of the Committee because it takes six and I believe only six are in town and I am not sure they will all be favorable, and even if they are I do not believe in this hot weather you can get men together for Committee meetings — I do not believe it can be done, Mrs. Park.” And Mrs. ark said, “Well, would you like us to help you get the Committee together, Senator?”
He looked a little surprised and then he said, “Yes, anything you can do for us will be appreciated! We will have our Committee meeting on Tuesday (or Wednesday morning, or whatever it was), and you can see if you can get the gentlemen to come.” So Mrs. Park called up a few of her assistants and she said. “You are responsible for so and so, and you are responsible for so and so,” and she said, “It is hot weather but they must come to that committee meeting,” and they came.
There were six of them and they all came to the Committee and voted favorably. That is to say, in the end they voted favorably. Mrs. Park sat on a bench outside of the door and checked them off as they came in, and if you man did not come in, woe unto you, for you had better have had him in the first place, because you had to have him there in the last place. Mine was a gentleman who was so busy that no one dared to ask anything of him, but I wet meekly to him office and asked would he please come and go to the committee meeting.
Then it came up in the Senate. There was an adjournment meeting. The Bill had to lay over to another day, and all had to be done over again. Finally, however, it did go through the Senate and it was passed without any amendments, which were bad for it, to keep it from passing in the House. Then it went form the Senate. We thought it went straight to the President, but you learn things all the time about legislation in Washington.
It did not go straight to the President at all. We had to find out where it did go. Finally we learned that it was proper to refer it to the departments which were affected by it. We found it had to be referred to two departments: the Department of Labor because the Immigration Laws were affected by it; the Department of State was affected by it because of the passports and international relations.
It went to one and was forgotten, and was rapidly approaching the day when Congress would adjourn. Mr. Cale was as anxious about it as we were. He is running for office in his state and he wanted to find the Bill and get it decided before he went back home to his constituents.
Mrs. Park was called away and charged us with seeing that the Bill was signed before Congress adjourned, and we were more than anxious that it should be, so we began chasing around, looking for the Bill. We had everybody else chasing a round, too, and trying to find out why it was tarrying.
I will never forget Mr. Cable’s anxiety about his Bill. He would call up the League’s headquarters six times a day, asking what progress we were making or reporting something. And one time he said, “The Parliamentarian for the Senate says, ‘All right, not to be signed before Congress adjourns,’ but Gee Christmas, I don’t believe him. I think it should be signed, now — because, Gee Christmas, it has to be signed before I go home to Ohio.”
It was signed one morning when Miss Sherwin was having a meeting. Mr. Cable had his picture taken with the Bill. We ere all so happy about it ad then he took his pen I hand and wrote a letter to Mrs. Park, telling her of the wonderful achievement — and it was one of the most wonderful achievements; and to express to Mrs. Park his great appreciation for helping to pass the Cable Bill, he presented the pen to Mrs. Park.
I had the privilege of presenting it to her in Boston. We had our pictures taken while I was holding the pen in my hand, presenting it to Mrs. Park. Miss Sherwin was there and she said, “Mercy Mrs. Park, please smile, you look like Edward Everett Hale at the Boston Tea Party.”
Source: League of Women Voters Papers on film, 11. A.5. 0119-26.
Also: For the Public Record: A Documentary History of the League of Women Voters, ed. Barbara Stuhler (Westport, CT: Greenwood) 2000, pp. 84-85.