Vance Hartke of Indiana was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1958, becoming the first Democrat from Indiana to do represent the state in 20 years. He was a strong supporter of the Kennedy administration, voting for its school aid, minimum wage, taxation, housing and Medicare bills, and more. He served on...
Vance Hartke of Indiana was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1958, becoming the first Democrat from Indiana to do represent the state in 20 years. He was a strong supporter of the Kennedy administration, voting for its school aid, minimum wage, taxation, housing and Medicare bills, and more. He served on the influential Commerce and Finance Committees. Rising in power quickly, in 1962 he became chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and was responsible for helping Democratic candidates that year get elected. The Democrats picked up four seats (one of those was Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts), which for a mid-term election is a very good showing for an incumbant party. Hartke would also have introduced the new members to the Senate in January 1963.
Coming from a strong steel manufacturing state, Hartke intended to introduce legislation designed to discourage imports of foreign steel (and thereby encourage purchase of domestic steel). He discussed it with the Kennedy administration, and there seems to have been some miscommunication about its potential support of the measure, initially leading Hartke to feel he had the administration’s support when ultimately he would not. He nonetheless introduced the bill in April 1963, but Congress took no action it.
Typed Letter Signed, on White House letterhead, Washington, February 19, 1963, to Senator Hartke, mending fences and expressing the President’s desire to maintain a close relationship with Congress. “I have had an opportunity to review carefully your recent letter about the necessity for a close relationship with the administration’s supporters in the Congress. Larry O’Brien and I have discussed this, and I understand that he has been in touch with you to assure you of our interest in working out the problem. I have also looked over the memoranda prepared for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and appreciate your making them available. I know I need not reassure you of our appreciation for your support. We shall continue to rely on it, and to make every effort to arrive at a satisfactory means of establishing a closer liaison.”
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