Liberals, led by Majority Leader Munson (Walter Pidgeon) fight hard to get peace advocate Robert Leffingwell (Henry Fonda) confirmed as Secretary of State. Conservatives, led by Senator Cooley (Charles Laughton) of South Carolina, battle to defeat his nomination. Arguments get ugly and tensions are high.
Liberal Senator Van Ackerman (George Grizzard) blackmails conservative Utah Senator Brig Anderson (Don Murray) by threatening to reveal a homosexual relationship he once had. Anderson commits suicide. The Senate Majority Leader figures out what Van Ackerman did, and Van Ackerman is disgraced and shunned by the entire Senate.
The tragedy leads all Senators on both sides to tone down their rhetoric, and put Leffingwell up for a direct vote. The vote ends in a tie, which means Vice President Hudson (Lew Ayres) must cast the deciding vote.
Just before the Vice President can vote, word comes that the President has died. Vice President Hudson votes against Leffingwell, since he himself will soon be the President, and he wants to choose his own Secretary of State. He will nominate a new candidate, and the whole confrmation process will start again.
Thanks John L!