Major Legislative Action by 83rd Congress
Administration Successes and Failures in 1954
President Eisenhower got much of what he wanted, but not all that he wanted, from the Congress elected with him in 1952. He frequently applied the words “dynamic, progressive, forward-looking” to his legislative program, but in the main it showed a middle-of-the-road approach, calculated to draw support from both major parties. The measure of the program's success was about what was to be expected from a Congress almost evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats—working with a President who continued to command more public confidence than the Congress itself.
The first session of the 83rd Congress in 1953 was devoted almost wholly to revising and extending laws about to expire, scaling down appropriations, and making ready to tackle the program the President would submit at the second session. Last year's most striking piece of permanent legislation was the bill relinquishing federal claims to submerged oil lands to the states; this year's most striking enactment, the bill to outlaw the Communist party.
The death of Sen. Taft toward the close of the 1953 session, when the Eisenhower program was still in its formative stages, deprived the President of a wise counsellor and a skillful strategist in Congress. Taft's successor as Senate majority leader, Sen. Knowland of California, sometimes worked at cross purposes with the administration on questions of foreign policy and at times found it difficult to hold the conservative and more liberal Republicans together on specific domestic issues. On occasion administration measures received more support from the minority than from members of the President's own party.