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The Assistant Majority Leader and the New Deal

The Assistant Majority Leader and the New Deal

(p.165) 11 The Assistant Majority Leader and the New Deal
Alben Barkley
James K. Libbey
University Press of Kentucky

The 1932 election found Barkley reelected to the Senate and FDR elected to the presidency. Barkley played a key role in New Deal legislation because of his Senate committees and his close relationship with Senate majority leader Joseph T. Robinson. He became the unofficial and then the official assistant Senate majority leader. He worked closely with Leslie L. Biffle, the Senate majority secretary and a lifelong friend. He made the transition from Wilson’s New Freedom to FDR’s New Deal because he felt that government had a role to play in overcoming the Great Depression. Especially on national radio, where he strongly supported it, the New Deal could be identified almost as much with Barkley as with the president. His support and fame prompted FDR to make sure Barkley would once again serve as temporary chairman and keynote speaker during the 1936 Democratic national convention that selected FDR for a second term in the White House. The chapter also introduces the growing international insecurity posed by such powers as Germany, Italy, and Japan.

Keywords:   Barkley and family, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Interstate Commerce Committee, Finance, Banking, and Currency Committee, New Deal legislation, assistant Senate majority leader, Joseph T. Robinson, Leslie L. Biffle, radio spokesman, keynote speaker, international affairs

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