On June 1, 1939, Mac and Edna Eveland Smith married, culminating a multi-year courtship. Edna was a widow with a young daughter named Jewell. Soon after they married, Mac adopted Jewell. With a new family, Mac decided to take the next step in his career path: U.S. Senator.
Shortly after Mac remarried, he decided to run for U. S. Senator, displacing the long-term Henry Fountain Ashurst, who had held the office since 1912. In 1940, Mac went to Washington D.C. to meet with Senator Carl Hayden and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to talk about Arizona’s water issues.
It was the first of many efforts that Mac would make to assure Arizona’s future.
Almost as soon as Mac took office, he became embroiled in a battle with Isolationists who did not want the United States to interfere, let alone intervene, in the war in Europe. Mac supported the Lend-Lease Act, which put him at odds with many of his colleagues.
He also defended freedom of expression in the motion picture industry and the strengthening of our military in preparation for war.
After the U.S. entry into World War II, Mac worked towards assisting farmers and ranchers who were being displaced by the military’s use of public lands.
He also supported the cotton growers of Arizona against Farm Security Administration's planned changes in policy from a poundage to hourly rates, fearing a reduction in production. Though he failed, cotton growers ignored the policies and used Japanese internees, prisoners of war, and braceros to bring in their crops.
Mac’s greatest efforts involved preparing for the return of millions of World War II veterans. He recalled the tragedy of Anacostia Flats following World War I. There would be four times the number of veterans, sixteen million, and America would likely revert to the Great Depression.
While the American Legion promoted a veterans omnibus bill containing health and economic benefits, Mac drafted a bill that included provisions for home and business loans and educational benefits. He then worked with both houses of Congress to incorporate the two bills into what became the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act.
During his second term as US Senator, Mac worked diligently in trying to secure Arizona’s Colorado River water rights. Though the Colorado River Compact had been created in 1922 to allocate the water from the river, Arizona had refused to sign it. With new legislation in motion to allocate water to Mexico, Arizona signed the compact in 1944.
Mac worked closely with Carl Hayden to develop bills to create the Central Arizona Project (CAP) and deliver Colorado River water to central Arizona. In 1947, he introduced Senate Bill 1175, but it failed to obtain the necessary hearings for passage. In 1949, he introduced Senate Bill 75, which passed the Senate but was defeated in the House.
California was in competition with Arizona for the Colorado River waters and had a larger number of Representatives in the House due to its larger population. In 1951, Mac reintroduced Senate Bill 75. It was again defeated in the House
After Congress authorized a new GI Bill for Korean War veterans, Mac—who was now the Majority Leader—ushered in changes that, like its World War II predecessor, included education and loan benefits.
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