For the first time, Dwight Eisenhower stood on the edge of a congressional defeat. At issue was S. 144, the relatively trivial Rural Electrification Administration bill, which would transfer power to approve or reject REA loans from Agriculture Secretary Ezra Benson to power-hungry Clyde Ellis, director of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. To farm-state representatives of both parties the bill was alluring; Ellis for weeks had been bringing his regional managers into Washington to buttonhole Congressmen. As drafted by Benson-hating Senator Hubert Humphrey, moreover, S. 144 was a direct slap...

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