Melvin R. Laird
United States Congress (1952-1969)
On the shores of the Potomac
Melvin R. Laird was elected Wisconsin's Seventh District U.S. Congressman for nine consecutive terms.
During his congressional career, Mr. Laird was a ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee for Defense, Health, Education, Welfare and Labor; was Chairman of the House Republican Minority, and a member of the Republicann Coordinating Committee. Mr. Laird helped foster the vast expansion of U.S. medical research programs and facilities. He shepherded through Congress many health and educational initiatives, including the present legislative authority for Health Maintenance Organizations. He also sponsored legislation for the creation of the Communicable Disease Center, enlarged the National Institutes of Health, the Library of Medicine and eight national cancer research centers.
Between 1956 and 1967, Mr. Laird was appointed as an expert on the treatment of mental illness to the U.S. Delegation to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland by three Presidents: Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. When Mr. Laird resigned from the House in 1969 to become Secretary of Defense, he was the ranking minority member of the Subcommittee on Health, Education, Welfare and Labor Appropriations and the subcommittee on Defense Appropriations.
One testimonial to his capability was voiced by President Eisenhower when he named Mr. Laird as one of the 10 men in America best qualified to serve as President of the United States.
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U.S. Secretary of Defense
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