Former congressman Charles A. Halleck, 85, an Indiana Republican who gained a reputation as a deft and effective legislative tactician during a 33-year career in the House of Representatives, died of pneumonia March 3 at a hospital in Lafayette, Ind.
Mr. Halleck served twice as majority leader in the House, in 1947 and 1948 and again in 1953 and 1954, and he was minority leader from 1959 until 1965, when Gerald R. Ford of Michigan ousted him in a political coup. Mr. Halleck had won the position six years earlier by unseating Rep. Joseph W. Martin of Massachusetts in a similar maneuver.
Mr. Halleck's second term as majority leader came during the first two years of the Eisenhower presidency, and the congressman was generally credited with having delivered House approval of most major pieces of legislation on the president's program.
Later, as minority leader in a chamber that was overwhelmingly Democratic, Mr. Halleck came to be regarded by the president as a political genius for his ability to win budget battles for the Republican administration.
Mr. Halleck often described himself as "100 percent Republican," or a "Republican, period," and he was elected to 16 consecutive full terms in Congress after winning a special election in 1935 to fill the remaining year of a term of an incumbent who had died.
He was one of the leading architects of the conservative coalition of Republicans and southern Democrats that blocked or curtailed much of the legislation in the domestic programs of Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy. For years one of his chief allies in that effort was former House Rules Committee chairman Howard W. Smith (D-Va.), who lost his seat in a Democratic primary election in 1966.
On the issue of civil rights, however, Mr. Halleck and Smith parted company. The lawmaker from Indiana supported all the major civil rights legislation from 1957 to 1964.
After Ford ousted him as minority leader in 1965, Mr. Halleck was mostly relegated to back-bench status within the Republican Party's circles of power. Three years later he retired to Indiana, where he did some college teaching and spent much time hunting and fishing.
Mr. Halleck was born in Demotte, Ind., and moved to Rensselaer, Ind., while still a boy. He served in the Army during World War I, then graduated from Indiana University and its law school.
He was a county prosecutor for 10 years before the congressional seat in his district became open with the death of Rep. Frederick Landis, Indiana's only Republican congressman at the time.
After his election, Mr. Halleck's standing within the party rose quickly. In 1940 he was chosen to nominate fellow Indiana lawyer Wendell L. Willkie for president at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. He later split with Willkie on foreign policy issues.
Generally an isolationist before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Mr. Halleck became an energetic supporter of the war. In the postwar years he was part of the bipartisan effort that supported such programs as the Marshall Plan for the economic recovery of Europe and the Truman Doctrine to aid Greece and Turkey.
Mr. Halleck's wife Blanche died in 1973.
Survivors include twin children, retired D.C. Superior Court Judge Charles W. Halleck of Los Altos, Calif., and Patricia Carroll of West Palm Beach, Fla.; nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.