Ford Is Approved By Senate, 92-3; House Set To Act
Final Vote Expected Dec. 6 on Confirming Republican Leader as Vice President
FORD IS APPROVED BY THE SENATE, 92-3
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Washington, Nov 27–The Senate approved today, 92 to 3, the nomination of Gerald Rudolph Ford of Michigan as the 40th Vice President of the United States.
The nomination is expected to win approval by the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday and gain final confirmation by the House on Dec. 6.
The Senate vote marked a historic moment for the nation–the first time that either House of Congress had acted in place of the voters in passing on a Vice-Presidential nominee under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which provides for filling any vacancy in the post.
But the debate and the vote that followed it were quietly undramatic, perhaps reflecting the personality of the nominee, an earnest, candid, hard-working Republican, who frankly acknowledges that he lacks the popular appeal of some political figures.
The three opposing votes were cast by Senators Thomas F. Eagleton of Missouri, himself briefly a Democratic nominee for the Vice Presidency, William D. Hathaway of Maine and Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, all Democrats.
Absent from the vote were Senators George McGovern of South Dakota and Stuart Symington of Missouri, both Democrats, and Edward J. Gurney of Florida, Paul J. Fannin of Arizona and James A. McClure of Idaho, all Republicans.
Mr. Ford, the 60-year-old minority leader of the House, did not witness the debate or the vote. He awaited the outcome in the office of the Senate minority floor leader, Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, just down the hall from the Senate chamber.
It was there that he got the news from a fellow Republican, Senator Marlow W. Cook of Kentucky, who waked in and, with a broad grin, handed him a slip of paper that read simply 92 to 3.
A short time later, Mr. Ford received a telephone call from his old friend, President Nixon, who chose him to be Vice President 46 days ago, two days after the abrupt resignation of Spiro T. Agnew.
The President told me that was a great vote and he wished me well on the House side, Mr. Ford said later. He said he hoped the House vote would be as good as the Senate.
Mr. Ford said that he, in turn, had told the President that the concluding Senate speech in his behalf had been made by Hubert H. Humphrey, Democrat of Minnesota, who was Vice President under President Johnson.
I told the President that one cant get more bipartisan support than that, Mr. Ford added.
Asked how he felt as he reached the halfway mark toward becoming Vice President, Mr. Ford reported, mixed feelings.
Im eager and anxious to get in and do a new job, he said, but at the same time I cant help but have regrets over leaving the House and all the wonderful men and women I serve with after these 25 years.
He added thoughtfully, My whole physical and mental attitude right now is, the sooner the better.
While Mr. Ford did not witness the debate or vote, his wife watched intently from a front- row gallery seat. She was accompanied by Mrs. George Aiken, wife of the Republican Senator from Vermont.
Throughout most of the low-key debate, much of it perfunctory speeches either for or against the nominee, there were only a scattering of Senators on the floor. Not until the bells range in the cloakrooms or Senate Office Buildings, alerting them to a vote, did most of the Senators flock to the floor.
But while there were few Senators on the floor for the debate, vivid reminders of the past were perched in niches near the domed ceiling of the more than century-old chamber–the marble busts of 20 vice Presidents, including seven who later became President. They were John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson and Chester A. Arthur.
The thought that the Senate might be voting on not just a Vice President but also the next President of the United States was expressed by most of the few Senators who spoke.
We are, after all, selecting a potential President, Senator Nelson said in opposing the Ford nomination. I dont believe that he can provide the kind of leadership that this nation desperately needs.
Senator Edward W. Brooke, Republican of Massachusetts, also observed that the nominee must be qualified to assume the highest office at any moment. Senator Brooke, who is one of the few Republicans who has asked President Nixon to resign, said, Jerry Ford is a man who gives me hope.
Others, too, spoke of the need to heal the nations wounds and to repair the faith of the people in their leaders.
Jerry Ford, Senator Cook said, brings credit to the much-maligned term of politician.
Senator Howard W. Cannon, Democrat of Nevada, assured the Senate that his Senate Rules Committee had conducted the most thorough investigation ever made of any nominee for political office.
Senator Philip A. Hart, Democrat of Michigan, declared, there is little similarity between [the nominees] voting record and mine, but I have come to the conclusion that he would be a steady and a decent and a believable President.
Senator Eagleton, who for a short time was Democratic Vice Presidential nominee last year until he was asked to step down, said that he was voting against Mr. Ford because he did not feel that the nominee would provide imaginative, creative or inspirational leadership.
Earlier today, Mr. Ford addressed the biennial convention of the Seafarers International Union of North America. He described himself as hanging in mid-air between Congress and the executive branch until his nomination was approved by both houses of Congress.