United States Congress Joint Committee on Atomic Energy

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The Joint Committee on Atomic Energy (JCAE) was a United States congressional committee that was tasked with exclusive jurisdiction over "all bills, resolutions, and other matters" related to civilian and military aspects of nuclear power from 1946 through 1977. It was established by the United States Atomic Energy Act of 1946, and was the overseer of the United States Atomic Energy Commission. For its broad powers, it is described as one of the most powerful congressional committees in U.S. history. It was the only permanent joint committee in modern times to have legislative authority.

The panel coupled these legislative powers with exclusive access to the information upon which its highly secretive deliberations were based. The joint committee was also entitled by statute to be kept "fully and currently informed" of all commission activities and vigorously exercised that statutory right, demanding information and attention from the executive branch in a fashion that arguably has no equivalent today.

One major power wielded by the JCAE was the "Legislative Veto." This unique power enabled the JCAE to influence policy decisions while matters were pending. This enabled the JCAE to act as a co-decision maker with the executive branch rather than only providing congressional oversight of actions that had already occurred. The legislative veto power was later found to be unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in 1983.[1]

During the 1970s, the committee's role in shaping nuclear policy began to diminish after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was created to replace the Atomic Energy Commission. Congress soon transferred the bulk of the joint committee's jurisdiction over civilian nuclear power to other standing congressional committees in the House and Senate. The joint committee was finally abolished on August 5, 1977.

Notable members[edit]

Committee members, 1946-1977[edit]

The joint committee had equal representation between both the House and Senate, with 5 majority and 4 minority members from each house. The committee was chaired by a senator from the majority party until the 83rd Congress, when the chairmanship began to alternate between a majority representative and majority senator.

79th Congress, 1946[edit]

Senate
Member State
  Brien McMahon, Chairman Connecticut
  Richard B. Russell Georgia
  Edwin C. Johnson Colorado
  Tom Connally Texas
  Harry F. Byrd Virginia
  Arthur H. Vandenberg Michigan
  Eugene D. Millikin Colorado
  Bourke B. Hickenlooper Iowa
  William F. Knowland California
House
Member State
  R. Ewing Thomason, Vice Chairman Texas
  Carl T. Durham North Carolina
  Aime Forand Rhode Island
  Chet Holifield California
  Melvin Price Illinois
  Charles Elston Ohio
  J. Parnell Thomas New Jersey
  Carl Hinshaw California
  Clare Boothe Luce Connecticut

80th Congress, 1947-1948[edit]

Senate
Member State
  Bourke B. Hickenlooper, Chairman Iowa
  Arthur H. Vandenberg Michigan
  Eugene D. Millikin Colorado
  William F. Knowland California
  John W. Bricker Ohio
  Brien McMahon Connecticut
  Richard B. Russell Georgia
  Edwin C. Johnson Colorado
  Tom Connally Texas
House
Member State
  W. Sterling Cole, Vice Chairman New York
  Charles Elston Ohio
  Carl Hinshaw California
  James E. Van Zandt Pennsylvania
  James T. Patterson Connecticut
  Carl T. Durham North Carolina
  Chet Holifield California
  Melvin Price Illinois
  Lyndon Baines Johnson Texas

81st Congress, 1949-1950[edit]

Senate
Member State
  Brien McMahon, Chairman Connecticut
  Richard B. Russell Georgia
  Edwin C. Johnson Colorado
  Tom Connally Texas
  Millard E. Tydings Maryland
  Bourke B. Hickenlooper Iowa
  Eugene D. Millikin Colorado
  William F. Knowland California
  John W. Bricker Ohio
House
Member State
  Carl T. Durham, Vice Chairman North Carolina
  Chet Holifield California
  Melvin Price Illinois
  Paul J. Kilday Texas
  Henry M. Jackson Washington
  W. Sterling Cole New York
  Charles Elston Ohio
  Carl Hinshaw California
  James E. Van Zandt Pennsylvania

82nd Congress, 1951-1952[edit]

Senate
Member State
  Brien McMahon, Chairman Connecticut
  Richard B. Russell Georgia
  Edwin C. Johnson Colorado
  Lyndon Baines Johnson Texas
  Clinton P. Anderson New Mexico
  Bourke B. Hickenlooper Iowa
  Eugene D. Millikin Colorado
  William F. Knowland California
  John W. Bricker Ohio
House
Member State
  Carl T. Durham, Vice Chairman North Carolina
  Chet Holifield California
  Melvin Price Illinois
  Paul J. Kilday Texas
  Henry M. Jackson Washington
  W. Sterling Cole New York
  Charles Elston Ohio
  Carl Hinshaw California
  James E. Van Zandt Pennsylvania

83rd Congress, 1953-1954[edit]

Senate
Member State
  Bourke B. Hickenlooper, Vice Chairman Iowa
  Eugene D. Millikin Colorado
  William F. Knowland California
  John W. Bricker Ohio
  Guy Cordon Oregon
  Richard B. Russell Georgia
  Clinton P. Anderson New Mexico
  John O. Pastore Rhode Island
  Albert Gore, Sr. Tennessee
House
Member State
  W. Sterling Cole, Chairman New York
  Carl Hinshaw California
  James E. Van Zandt Pennsylvania
  James T. Patterson Connecticut
  Thomas A. Jenkins Ohio
  Carl T. Durham North Carolina
  Chet Holifield California
  Melvin Price Illinois
  Paul J. Kilday Texas

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "9/11 Commission Recommendations: Joint Committee on Atomic Energy — A Model for Congressional Oversight?, Congressional Research Service, August 20, 2004".

External links[edit]