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Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas (left) with Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing . . ., photograph by Warren K. Leffler, 1966

In August 1964 Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas supported the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution giving the president almost unlimited power to conduct the war in Vietnam. Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon was one of only two members of Congress to oppose the resolution. In 1966 the two sought to uncover the truth about Vietnam through Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas (left) with Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing . . ., photograph by Warren K. Leffler, 1966

Congress Investigates the Vietnam War

Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1959 to 1974. Although Fulbright initially supported U.S. military action in Vietnam, his concerns about the war’s gradual escalation led him to conduct a series of nationally televised hearings in 1966. Through those hearings and a book, The Arrogance of Power, Fulbright became an influential critic of that “presidential war” and pushed Congress to reassert its role in foreign policy.

The reduced role of the Congress and the enhanced role of the President in the making of foreign policy are not the result merely of President Johnson’s ideas of consensus; they are the culmination of a trend in the constitutional relationship between President and Congress

J. William Fulbright, The Arrogance of Power, 1966