The first session of the 87th Congress witnessed a Republican innovation in leadership that had a very unifying effect. Early in January 1961, shortly before the end of his administration, President Dwight Eisenhower summoned to the White House the Republican members of Congress who had regularly attended his Tuesday morning congressional leadership meetings, including Everett Dirksen, Minority Leader of the Senate.
After discussion, the group reached the following conclusions:
1. The Republican leaders of the Senate and the House would form a joint group, to be known as the Joint Senate-House Republican Leadership, with the chairman of the Republican National Committee to act as presiding office (a practice soon abandoned), to hold meetings approximately once a week, after which the Senate and House leaders, as spokesmen, would hold a joint press conference for the newspaper, periodical, TV and radio correspondents. These sessions became known first as the "Ev and Charlie Show" and then the "Ev and Jerry Show" after Dirksen, Charles Halleck, and Gerald Ford.
2. When desirable, other appropriate GOP leaders would be invited to meet with the Joint Senate-House Republican Leadership.
3. For the purpose of coordinating the effort, stimulating research, and carrying out other administrative duties, President Eisenhower suggested the joint leadership be provided with a staff.
The innovation here was the decision to set up a "joint" Senate-House leadership, a key strategy as the Democrats took over the White House and became the center of media attention accordingly. For Republicans, the hope was that the party would speak with a unified voice and that different points of view between the House and Senate might be worked out more effectively.
The first meeting of the Joint Senate-House Republican Leadership occurred on January 24, 1961. A staff consultant was retained and, as a result of experience gained in the first few weeks, an effort was made to give the meetings a more formalized voice. This led to preparation at the meetings of formal statements to be issued at the press conferences before submitting to questions from correspondents.
From the leadership meeting of March 23 forward a record of formal statements was kept and published at the end of each session as an official document of the Senate. Each document contains the formal statements but not the question-and-answer transcripts, most of which are part of the Dirksen Papers.
The Joint Senate-House Republican Leadership meetings ended in 1968 after the election of Republican Richard Nixon to the White House.
The following table links to scanned versions of these documents. The date in brackets is the date the original document was printed.
|Atomic bomb, aid to depressed areas, aid to education, Berlin crisis, tractors for Cuba, feed grain and farm program, conduct of foreign affairs, the Hanford Project, threat of inflation, Red China and the Outer Mongolia question, government spending, trade behind the Iron Curtain, structural unemployment, and wage-hour issues.|
|Civil rights, Cuba, the economy, the 87th Congress, Billie Sol Estes, feed grain program, conduct of foreign affairs, investigation of the press, the "Liberal Papers," medical assistance for aged, nuclear test ban, presidential promises, spending, steel prices, and the tax cut.|
[December 13, 1963]
|Balance of payments, basic issues, Cuba, executive usurpation, farm program, conduct of foreign affairs, foreign aid, legislative progress, managed news, nuclear test ban, political outlook for 1964, spending, GOP task force, tax cut, unemployment.|
Communist bloc trade, Cuba, Democrats' domestic record, the economy, the farm program, conduct of foreign affairs, threat of inflation, nuclear control, nuclear test ban treaty, poverty, presidential campaign, reapportionment and the Supreme Court, spending, Vietnam.
Berlin Wall, cost of living, Cuba, the economy, education, commentary on the 89th Congress, conduct of foreign affairs, the "Great Society," Latin America, "peaceful coexistence," poverty, reapportionment, Republican Coordinating Committee, Taft-Hartley 14(b), unemployment, United Nations, Vietnam.
[October 14, 1966]
|Budget, minority party's role in Congress, the "credibility gap," public trust, national economy, farm prices, foreign aid, All Asian Conference, trade with communists, Vietnam, inflation, costs of living, public confidence in Lyndon Johnson, Medicare, War on Poverty, wage and price controls.|
[December 13, 1967]
|Budget, East-West trade, clean elections, cost of living, "creative federalism," crime in America, the farm problem, foreign trade, housing bill, inflation, law and order, poverty program, Punte del Este, revenue sharing, state of Congress, systems management.|
[October 10, 1968]
|Credibility, defense, the farm problem, federal spending and taxation, foreign policy, law and order, the Middle East, the Republican Party.|
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