Minority Leader LBJ Lets Others Fight Ike are the Republicans on foreign affairs. North of the Mason and Dixon line, we are progressives. In the South, with the exception of Alabama, the party is largely dominated by the wealthy manufacturers, bankers, and planters whose economic interests and views are closely similar to those of the northern Republicans. In the southwest, the oil and gas interests give a similar coloration to our party. “I am confident that in time this situation will right itself. The liberal movement in the South is real, and is particularly strong not only in Alabama but also in such States as North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas. It will grow with time. Sooner or later unionization will come to the South. So will Negro suffrage. As all this happens, the liberal forces inside the Democratic Party will be strengthened. “In the meantime, we Democrats in Congress are likely to speak with a divided , voice on many issues and many Southern leaders in the House and Senate are likely to take stands which in some respects are directly opposite to the official position of our party as laid out in last year’s platform.” Johnson Cuts Out The Republicans began the counter-New Deal, ever cognizant that the basic philosophy of the businessman’s administration had been succinctly stated by Secretary of Defense Wilson, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the ,country.” Opposition in the Senate was waged by the stalwarts Douglas, Morse, Humphrey, Lehman, et al., but without visible aid or support from the party leadership. If there was a policy it was drift, not mastery, opportunism, not principle. The record of the Congress was meager. Eisenhower and the Republican congressional leaders were testing each other, and without militant opposition they were able to stall legislative progress. Though the 1952 Democratic platform had advocated reforms in congressional procedures “so that majority rule prevails and decisions can be made after reasonable debate without being blocked by a minority in either house,” when the vote came in the Senate on January 7 the Democratic leader, Johnson, voted against the majority rule resolution. Kennedy, Humphrey, and Symington voted for the resolution. And though the 1952 Democratic platform had also pledged “the fulfillment of the programs of private housing, public low-rent housing, slum clearance, urban redevelopment, farm housing, and housing research as authorized by the Housing Act of 1949,” when Eisenhower appointed Albert Cole who as a member of Congress had been one of the leading opponents ister the 1949 Housing Act, it had to be Morse, Lehman, Humphrey, and Magnuson who carried the fight against Cole’s nomination. Magnuson pointed out that Cole had indicated in his testimony that he would offer no resistance to any trend toward increasing interest rates on veterans’ housing or FHA loans from four percent up to the maximum of six percent. Johnson voted for Cole; Humphrey, Kennedy, Symington voted against him. The great debate of the 83rd Congress came over the tidelands. Though the 1952 Democratic platform had called for “a continuation of the natural resources development policy” of Roosevelt and Truman and though a majority of the Democrats in both the THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 2 April 15, 1960 House and Senate were opposed to what was called the greatest “give-away” of them all, Johnson and Rayburn voted for the grant to the states of this property. A “party” position against giveaways was thus denied the party for 1956 by the congressional leadership. The 1952 Democratic platform had, condemned “unfair practices” against national groups and stated, “We will eliminate distinctions between native born and naturalized citizens.” July 29 in the Senate, Sen. Ives proposed an amendment to the emergency refugee act liberalizing the definition of refugees. Johnson voted against the amendment, as did Symington, while Kennedy and Humphrey voted for it. ‘Truly Moderate Party’ Looking ahead to the 1954 congressional elections, C h a i r m a n. Mitchell called a two-day Democratic conference coincident with a meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Chicago for September, 1953,. The two controversial items at the conference were the “Loyalty Pledge” adopted by the 1952 Democratic national convention and a proposal by Paul Butler, Democratic national committeeman from Indiana, that the party hold a 1954 national convention to state an affirmative program and focus attention on the party before the congressional campaigns. Johnson cold-shouldered the conference from the beginning and did not even attend. In a Dallas News interview May 4, 1953, Johnson said, “The issues will be made by the House and Senate party leaders and the prevailing ideas of a majority of the Democratic members.” In another Dallas News interview Sept. 6, a week prior to the party conference, he added: “I would like the Democratic Party to be the party of the people the truly moderate party. That way, tli.e people could have a choice between conservatism and moderation.” As it turned out, Representative Hale Boggs of Louisiana and Rayburn led the drive which scuttled the Butler proposal. A resolution ‘submitted by Governors John Battle of Virginia and Hugh White of Mississippi concerning the “loyalty pledge” was adopted. This resolution provided that the rules of the 1952 convention were dead and that there was no rules for the 1956 convention. Though the formal -action on the proposals took place on Monday, it was a three-hour luncheon conference on Sunday, Sept. 13, between Stevenson, Truman, Rayburn, and Mitchell which worked out the harmony program of disposal. In the fall of 1953, Stevenson and Mitchell began a program of rapproachement with the Southern Democratic leaders. Stevenson made a conciliatory speech to the Georgia Legislature on. Nov. 24 as the guest of Governor Herman Talmadge and visited Governor Persons in Alabama on the way home. On Dec. 2, Mitchell joined Georgia’s two senators as principal speakers at a Democratic dinner in Atlanta. ‘Sound State Laws The second session of the 83rd Congress opened in January, 1954, and the first important issue for consideration in the Senate was the authorization of the ‘agreement with Canada for joint construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway Project. On January 20, Johnson voted against while Kennedy, Humphrey and Symington voted for it. On January 18 in a radio interview for Texas consumption, Johnson discussed the Taft-Hartley Act. The 1952 Democratic platform had declared: “We strongly advocate the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act,” which “interferes in an arbitrary manner with collective bargaining, tipping the scales in favor of management against labor.” Johnson said:'” . . . I think the President was right when he said the Taft-Hartley Act, as it stands, is ‘sound legislation.’ I certainly do not favor weakening the basic provisions of the present law. I will oppose any suggested amendments that would have such an effect. Perhaps certain parts of the law need to be straightened.” Praising Texas state labor laws, Johnson said he wants “to make sure that federal legislation in the field of labor-management relations does not override or supersede our sound state laws.” \(The laws, of course, include “right to Then on January 25 came the vote on confirmation of Senator McCarthy’s friend, Robert E. Lee, as a member of the Federal Communications Commission. Lee’s only experience in the communications field was presiding over “Facts Forum” programs for oil tycoon H. L. Hunt of Dallas. Johnson absented himself when the vote c a m e while Kennedy, Humphrey and Symington voted against confirmation of Lee. Johnson said that if he had voted, he would have voted for Lee. Late in January, Senator Morse came to Texas for two Roosevelt Day dinners and took time out to comment about the Democratic leader in the Senate. “Texas ought to elect itself two senators,” said Morse; “you have none now. One represents the oil interests and the other represents Lyndon B. Johnsonand when I say that I’m engaging in the height of senatorial courtesy.” Morse continued, “Johnson has the most reactionary record in the Senate. Look at his voting record. If he , should ever have a liberal idea he would have a brain hemorrhage. . . . “A politician who is afraid of being defeated is the worst representative you can have. And I cannot explain the actions of your own senior senator except upon the basis of the fact that he, too, is afraid he is going to be defeated.” Johnson fired back at Morse from Washington, saying “Texas doesn’t need any outsiders to come in and tell them how to vote. I don’t think Texas will pay any more attention to him than the Senate does.” Johnson reminded Texans of “Morse’s opposition to measures for the benefit of Texas,” referring to the tidelands legislation among other things. The Bricker Amendment On Feb. 26 came the vote on the Bricker Amendment to the Constitution to limit the treaty powers of the ‘United States and curb the President’s authority to enter into executive agreements. Johnson voted for the finally emerging version of the Bricker Amendment, while Kennedy and ,Humphrey voted against. Symington was absent. Though Johnson had endorsed the Bricker Amendment in Sept. 1953, and his vote was not unexpected, it only pointed up a ‘basic philosophic division between the leaders of the Democratic Party. Rayburn spoke bluntly against it: “I wouldn’t be for it if they struck out all but the enacting clause.” Truman wrote perhaps the most authoritative comment: “It is a real example of living and thinking in terms of the eighteenth century instead of the twentieth.” On March 3 the Senate considered the recruitment of “wetback labor” from Mexico for agricultural work in the United States. The 1952 Democratic platform had advocated “prompt improvement of employment conditions of migratory workers and increased protection of their safety and health,” but the Senate voted on March 3 to authorize the continuation of wet-back recruitment practices and failed to provide for minimum standards of employment. Johnson voted for the bill, Kennedy and Humphrey voted against; Symington was absent. On March 4, Ray Tucker writing in the Dallas News said: “Senator Johnson heads but does not lead the Democrats in the upper chamber, who actually constitute a majority of one . . .” “The key explanation is that Senator Johnson must be re’elected next fall. It would not be discreet for him to fight the Eisenhower legislative program too openly or savagely. He will need the support of voters and newspapers which still ‘like Ike.’ “He will need campaign contributions from those fabulous proMcCarthy ‘billionaires.’ He cannot antagonize the popular Gov. Allan Shivers, still a White House pal. “Most ‘amazingly, he voted for the George substitute for the Bricker Amendment. It would have required great courage for him to do otherwise, since all but three SouthernersFulbright of Arkansas, Hill of Alabama, and Kefauver of Tennesseesupported the Georgian’s ban on secret agreements. Nevertheless, ‘by his vote the Senate Democratic leader indirectly condemned a vast portion of the Roosevelt-Truman diplomacy.” Tucker concluded: “. . . The Democrats on Capitol Hill lack a leader!” The third week in March, Johnson wrote in his weekly column for Texas: “TREATY POWERS: Debate and voting on the Bricker Amendment was almost wholly along non-partisan lines. The amendment reported by the Senate judiciary committee never came to the floor for ‘a vote. After voting for several provisions designed to close the constitutional loophole with respect to treaty making powers, I urged Senator George to introduce a substitute amendment that would attain the basic objectives of Bricker Amendment supporters. “He did so. His amendment was supported by Senator Bricker and others among the sponsors of the original amendment. We lost by just one vote. “Nevertheless, a valuable purpose has been served. Americans have been alerted to the need for action to protect the constitutional rights of the States and of the people generally. . . I predict that some such measure as proposed will finally be enacted.” In the Senate on April 1 “came the vote on statehood for Hawaii and Alaska. The 1952 Democratic platform advocated “immediate statehood for these two territories.” When the roll was called, Johnson voted against the bill, while Symington voted for it and Kennedy and Humphrey were ‘paired for it. The New Republic May 3, 1954, had this to say of Johnson’s leadership: “There is basis for hope that after May 3 Sen. Lyndon Johnson of Texas will begin to act like the Minority Leader he was elected to be 15 months ago. After that date the filings for U. S. Senator from Texas will be closed. . . . the only time he has exercised his power in this session, except in forcing Senator Chavez’s confirmation, was to veto an order by 1.Wjority Leader William Knowland to hold night sessions.” The UN and China In March, 1954, Stevenson, giving the Godkin Lectures at Har vard, said, “We will shortly have to evolve the minimum conditions on which we are willing to live and let live with the Chinese Communists, with the probability that, as in Europe, the ideological contest will go on ‘for a long time.” The isolationist go-it-alone-ifnecessary forces fed by McCarthyism and only feebly contested by Eisenhower and Dulles simmered during the spring and early summer until on July 1 the Republican majority leader in the Senate. Knowland of California, boiled over in an extraordinary speech on foreign policy and declared that if Communist China was voted into the U. N. he would resign his majority leadership and work full time to get the U. S. out of the U. N. The following day, July 2, Johnson followed Knowland’s lead and said: .. . First, The American people want no appeasement of the Communists. “Second. In my opinion the American people will refuse to support the United Nations if Communist China shoots its way into membership. “Third. The American people have become very uneasy over the intentions and objectives of our allies.” Morse of Oregon challenged both Knowland and Johnson: “I believe that both of those speeches are likely to be subject to serious misinterpretation by many at home and abroad . . . What dis
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