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Lewis L. Strauss, Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on His Nomination as Secretary of Commerce, photograph by the Associated Press, 1959

Lewis Strauss’ acrimonious relationship with Congress began during his tenure as head of the Atomic Energy Commission. He was particularly critical of Senator Clinton Anderson of New Mexico, who chaired the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. During Strauss’ confirmation hearing, his disdainful responses to several questions further alienated members of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Lewis L. Strauss, Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on His Nomination as Secretary of Commerce, photograph by the Associated Press, 1959

Congress Rejects Eisenhower’s Cabinet Nomination

President Dwight D. Eisenhower precipitated one of the most contentious confirmation hearings of the Cold War era when he nominated Edwin L. Strauss as secretary of Commerce in 1959. Strauss’ controversial decisions as the former head of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), his arrogance, and his condescending attitude toward members of the Senate during his confirmation hearings ultimately led the Senate to reject his confirmation on June 18, 1959.

I was impressed by Mr. Strauss in the first days of the hearing. . . . It was only after that he began to unfold the step-by-step evasion and snow us with words instead of direct answers to questions, and sometimes use downright deceit and falsehood, in reply to questions which had been asked.

Senator Gale W. McGee of Wyoming, Speech to the U.S. Senate, June 9, 1959