Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) caught the attention of the nation during a speech in West Virginia on February 9, 1950 in which he claimed he held in his a hand a list of 205 names of people who were Communists working in the State Department. While not everyone was convinced of McCarthy’s allegations, he remained unscathed by numerous Senate investigations into his various claims of communism in the government.
In 1952, McCarthy was made chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee and the Committee’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. It was as chairman of these two committees that McCarthy waged his full-scale attack on communists in the government. He investigated the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the International Information Agency (IIA), and the U.S. Army. The nationally televised hearings of the U.S. Army eventually lead to McCarthy’s political demise. His brutal tactics and reckless questioning gave his colleagues in the Senate more than enough motivation and evidence to put an end to his attacks.
On July 20, 1954, Senator Ralph Flanders (R-VT) introduced a resolution for censure to the Senate. The resolution was referred to a six-member subcommittee. The subcommittee issued its recommendation of censure on September 27. The Senate began debate on the subcommittee’s recommendation on November 8. The Senate finally came to a vote on December 2. The resolution was passed, 67-22, to censure McCarthy for contempt and abuse contrary to senatorial traditions and ethics.
S Res 301, 7/30/1954, SEN 83A-B4, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 1157557)
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