Congress and Vietnam, June 1965
“The growing danger in Vietnam, the obvious escalation, and the increased commitment of U.S. troops have brought a new wave of anxiety to Congress,” Neil MacNeil reported on June 16, 1965. “Most fascinating,” he continued, “was the splitting away of the House Republicans from straight down-the-line support of Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam policy—which put them at odds also with the Senate Republicans.”
MacNeil went on to describe how Melvin Laird, chairman of the House Republican Conference, had hinted at the possibility of “ending any Republican support of our present Vietnam policy.” He, along with House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford, preferred to use U.S. air strikes rather than committing more ground troops to the war. Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, however, did not share the criticism of his House colleagues against President Lyndon Johnson’s strategy. “Lyndon Johnson is no damn fool,” Dirksen said privately. “It is unimaginable that he would take a step … that flew in the face of the best military brains.”
The dynamics of congressional reaction to the administration’s policies with respect to the war in Vietnam occupied much of MacNeil’s reporting in 1965. His collection contains many related stories.