Raymond D. Hurley, 56, a Washington lawyer and former Senate staff member who was active in Republican politics, died of cancer Wednesday at Georgetown University Hospital.

Between 1954 and 1969, Mr. Hurley was minority counsel for the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee and then of the Senate Commerce Committee. Since then, he had been engaged in the private practice of law and was a partner in the Washington firm of Connole & O'Connell at the time of his death.

Mr. Hurley was a specialist in the field of federal energy law and was a member of the bar of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

He was active in the successful campaign of Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) for the 1964 Republican presidential nomination. Following Goldwater's nomination, Mr. Hurley served as a special assistant to Republican National Chairman Dean Burch and worked for the Republican National Campaign Committee.

Mr. Hurley was a native of Washington and a resident of Sumner, Md. He was a 1942 graduate of Gonzaga College High School and a 1948 graduate of Georgetown University. He earned his law degree at Georgetown in 1951. Mr. Hurley served in the Navy during World War II.

He had been an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for the past 15 years.

Mr. Hurley was a member of the Catholic Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda.

Survivors include his wife, Margaret Darby Hurley of Sumner; two sons, Neil, of San Francisco, and Brennan, of Washington; his mother, Ella Hurley of Washington, and three sisters, Jean Guay of Kensington, and Helen Curtin and Kathleen Martin, both of Washington.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Michael D. Hurley Scholarship Fund at Gonzaga College High School in Washington.Mr. Hurley established the fund in memory of a son who died in 1974.