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The Majority Leader from Neutrality to War

The Majority Leader from Neutrality to War

(p.201) 13 The Majority Leader from Neutrality to War
Alben Barkley
James K. Libbey
University Press of Kentucky

In the face of international security threats in 1939 from Germany, Italy, and Japan, FDR requested and Barkley helped pass the Army Air Corps Expansion Bill, which dramatically increased US airpower. Much of that year focused on revising the 1937 Neutrality Act since its cash-and-carry provision, which benefited the naval powers England and France, ended in May. Only after the German invasion of Poland was cash-and-carry returned in new legislation. The German blitzkrieg in Europe in 1940 helped Democrats and FDR decide favorably on a third term. Barkley served as permanent chairman of the Democratic national convention. FDR easily won the presidential election, and Barkley helped Harry S. Truman keep his seat in the US Senate. As 1940 closed, Prime Minister Churchill requested aid because England was running out of money and could not meet the cash conditions in the latest Neutrality Act. Barkley sponsored and shepherded the Lend-Lease bill through the Senate in 1941. Later that year Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

Keywords:   Barkley and family, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Army Air Corps Expansion Act, Neutrality Acts, permanent chairman, Harry S. Truman, Winston S. Churchill, Lend-Lease Act, Pearl Harbor

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