The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights called the 101st Congress "one of the best and most successful civil rights Congresses in our history." That assessment came despite its failure to enact the group's No. 1 priority, the Civil Rights Act of 1990. Congress passed it, but President Bush vetoed it, and the Senate failed to override the veto by one vote.
Among the successes were the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, a child care bill, an older workers protection act, the reauthorization of the Civil Rights Commission and a minimum wage increase.
The big failure could be overcome in the current Congress -- if the civil rights community will get behind some compromise version of the 1990 act that is not likely to be vetoed. The main goal of the 1990 act was to reverse recent Supreme Court decisions overturning a key 1971 court ruling on employment practices. Among several civil rights bills likely to be introduced this year will be at least one, with a Republican author, writing into law the language of the 1971 court decision. The president couldn't in good faith oppose that.