From 1951 to 1953, Mac served as U.S. Senate Majority leader – one of the few men in history to do so. In 1950, the Democratic membership of the Senate formed a 12-person team to ensure that a member of their party was on the floor any time the Senate was in session. McFarland was selected leader of this team and found it easier to remain on the floor himself instead of finding others to take the duty.
During this time, the two leading candidates for Democratic majority leader lost their reelection bids and McFarland was encouraged to run for a leadership position in January 1951. Mac was selected to be Senate Majority Leader for the 82nd U.S. Congress. As the new majority leader, he hosted monthly lunch meetings inviting all committee chairmen and freshmen senators as an informal setting to conduct Senate business.
(photo credit: Justin Hamman)
For the next two years, Mac worked closely with President Harry Truman. He believed it was his duty as Majority Leader to provide the President with an accurate view of what his fellow senators felt.
"I never hesitated to present views contrary to those of the President in our conferences," explained Mac. "As I've said before, I think that too frequently, the President is only told things people think he wants to hear. I would like to emphasize that it is not pleasant to present a view contrary to that of the President in such conferences.”
Mac firmly believed that his duties as majority leader were separate from those of representing the interests of his constituents. He spoke before appropriations committee, asking for funds to bring water from the Colorado River to central Arizona. During this time, Mac became an expert on water law due to his efforts on the Irrigation and Reclamation Committee in Washington.
In 1952, Mac lost his senate seat to Republican Barry Goldwater during the landslide election of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
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