Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  April 4, 2010 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT

7:00 pm
a democrat. it was a sense that we are brother senators and need to work together. .
7:01 pm
when things are not going well for the nation, it is reflected on the floors of congress, and i think even more so in the united states senate. a huge problem and a lot at stake, but i would not denying we are a uniquely low point in the cycle. i am a firm believer that the pendulum will single -- will swing away from this low $0.30 so you say at some point there will be more bipartisanship, more comity, all those things. >> historians should not predict
7:02 pm
about the future. but i think the answer lies with the american people. they have a good ability for have at least to make self correction or to adjust the kind of people they are sending to the senate. it is hard for me to say this, but maybe people the electorate are more partisan now than they may have been. the american people have reform to the senate -- reformed the senate. a couple of examples, one i mentioned earlier, the fact that senators were elected by state legislatures. that was an arena for bribery because you only had a few people abroad. and then you had the election.
7:03 pm
so from as early as 1824, the proposal to amend the constitution to change the senate -- the way that the senators were elected. a lot of anger about that and political cartoons. that only happened because of very strong popular pressure. house of representatives voted to change it and the late 1890's, but the senate for complex reasons took their time. but there was public pressure that made it happen. >> i had senator dole talked- about -- talk about his career here, and the portents of working closely with the leaders of the other party. how we important is that in terms of maintaining a sense of civility and even cooperation
7:04 pm
and the possibility of compromise? >> it is absolutely vital. every party leader knows what a thankless job the other party has and sympathizers. it is crucial and for most of the 20th-century, the party leaders have worked pretty well together. there is a story that tom daschle tells when he was the democratic leader of the senate, he had just become democratic leader in the mid-1990s, and lo and behold, here comes bob deaoe to have been meeting with him in his office. daschle as the new guy on the block. he was so flattered, spending his time with me, then he realized what senator dole was up to. it was genuine, but by him
7:05 pm
coming to my office, it showed that he had the power to end the meeting when he wanted it and the meeting. bridget wanted to end the meeting. that had a very good relationship. the senate organized a series of speeches and the late 1990's called the "leader is a collector's series." the transcripts are on the senate web site. senator dole gave his speech having been out of the senate for four years, and it was 10 years ago this month. i read it and it is filled within sight. about what it means to be a leader of the senate. nine leaders and "-- including the former vice president came and spoke.
7:06 pm
each 1.3 the previous speeches -- each one went through the speeches of the previous leaders. it is of great deal of leadership in the senate and it is a terrific work on the leadership. >> is it fairly common for the leaders of the two separate parties to make deals not a surprise each other on things and that would allow them to go out and be partisan in a very aggressive way, but let their colleagues know that this is coming down the pike? >> senator howard baker, when he became majority leader in 1981, after the great surprise that the republicans took control of the senate's, no one saw that coming. i remember where i was when i heard it. all the sudden, it was open to
7:07 pm
new management, as howard baker joke. he walked up to the democratic leader, robert byrd, and made a deal. i will never surprise you if you do not surprise me. and senator byrd said, that is a good basis for cooperation. and senator dole became majority leader a couple of years later, and they extended that agreement in 1985. so it is essential, and that the relations between the two leaders are not good, then everybody is in trouble. >> what is the relationship between majority leader reid and minority leader mcconnell? >> you think that it would be tense.
7:08 pm
if you read the newspaper articles -- two years ago, senator reid did something that was rather significant. at the university of louisville, there is a mitch mcconnell center for the stubble -- for the study of public policy. they had an unveiling theire so senator reid interrupted his other duties, and attended the event. it was an enormously busy time and center, never forgot that -- and senator mcconnell never forgot that. beneath it all, there is a sense that we are brothers in a battle. there was a time where you draw the line and do not cross that line, because if you do, just a
7:09 pm
basic operational structure of the senate would seem pretty grave. some time the tide washes off flee close to that line -- awfully close to that line, but it is the glue that keeps things going. >> the number of women senators have increased dramatically. give us the history of that. >> women had no place in the senate other than supporting their husbands until 1922. and that was tokenism at its extreme level, when there was a fake and santa in the georgia senate, the governor of georgia had endeared himself to the newly enfranchised women voters of georgia, and he appointed an 87-year-old woman to what turned out to be a one-day gig in the senate from georgia. she came man and made a wonderful speech.
7:10 pm
today, our members may be few but our numbers will increase and and you will get dedication and loyal service. and then it took until 1932 for the first woman to be elected as opposed to point. -- appointed. the main center was the first to be elected. when she retired, actually defeated in 1972, no women in the senate until 1973-1978, when a couple of senators were appointed. hubert humphrey died so his wife was appointed to his seat, so forth. but now we come to the current such a question or there are 17 women. there have only been 34 women and all that have served in the senate, and half are serving their now.
7:11 pm
it is a good bet that people -- it will not hurt -- never drop below 17. that is about the proportion of women in the house of leftist -- in the house of representatives. in state legislatures, women have much more role. all fully the numbers will be more balanced. >> one of the great changes in the senate has been the televising of what is going on on the floor by c-span. can you give us your assessment of the pros and cons of that? >> a good question. it is not a simple black or white issue. the house of representatives decided to televise its proceedings from gavel to gavel in 1979. a number of senators said, see, that proves our point. the house is going to do it. we want nothing to do with it. in the house, they could only speak for one minute or five
7:12 pm
minutes. in the ascendant, once the senator has the floor, he or she can speak for as long as they can stand up. so it is not for us. the senator agonize from 1979 to 1986, when there was pressure from the public, what you tried to hide? it is the state legislatures putting pressure on us for senators meeting behind closed doors. so they finally opened the proceedings to c-span. all the sudden, the senate chamber started looking more attractive. they got new carpet and there. they use the baby blue washed out carpet, and in the senators would claim that on c-span they did not look too good. particularly good junior senators who sat on the back row, it's look like they were sitting in a bus station. there was nothing to hide them. and almost miraculously, but
7:13 pm
damask pattern wallcoverings appeared. anyone who is going to make a maiden speech, they take the trouble to make sure to borrow a dislocation said that that damask pattern will be framing that person on television perfectly. they paid attention to it for sure. c-span is certainly making -- it has made for much more informed public. you talk to many congressional staffer who has to answer letters or e-mails from the public, who have been falling in great detail the health-care debate, for instance, on c-span. does this mean we end up with a lot of showboat's senators, particularly if they are up for reelection, grabbing the camera
7:14 pm
in the late afternoon? there is a little bit of that. there are charts in the chamber, a special position now that manufactures the chart, and by regulation they can only be so big. you can see some poor stafford dragging them over from the office building to the capitol building and putting them on the easel. and in the center can make a point. -- and then the senator can make a point. i cannot imagine the senate without television coverage. when you take those cameras into every committee room, c-span has been doing that for a long time, and do you take it in due every private meeting? of course not. it would force the discussion off campus somewhere. you have to have some privacy to have some of the preliminary discussions. >> all along that question, what is the effect of new media, of
7:15 pm
blogs, all the information out there, how was that affected the senate? >> i suspect it has affected individual senators and a major way. i think back to the day prior to the 1960's when a senator could come to washington and be an expert on whatever he/she wanted to be an expert on. that would choose committees based on their states constituency interests. and that was it. you did not have to be an expert on every subject across the horizon. now there is that 24/7 news coverage, loggers, the corridors of the capital filled with people standing there with microphones and tape recorders, you have to have a view on almost everything. it is very frightening.
7:16 pm
it is so hard -- they say it is like drinking from a fire hose. there's so much coming at a senator. those that had previously been house members, who could grab on to the issues before, and house members serve on fewer committees, so their attention is not fragmented. but you get into the united states senate and fragmentation is the order of the day. you have to hope as a senator that you can hire and retain good staff members. it would be impossible to do the job without good staff. >> how was the growth and the importance paying too -- paid to lobbyist affecting the senate? >> we read recently that toyota normally has 34 lobbyist on capitol hill and they are bringing in some actress, as many as 50 lobbyists.
7:17 pm
everyone is trying to grab the attention of senators. it does not matter whether you're senior or junior, you are in the spotlight. and if you need money to run your reelection campaign, and the cost of the campaign varies according to the size of the state and and media markets that cover that state, but it is not unusual to spend $10 million for campaign every six years, or $20 million, like jon corzine in new jersey's spent $63 million. you figure that out in terms of how much you have to raise per day. and there are thousands of >> -- thousands of dollars per day. how do you keep your sanity? maybe we need to go back to when states were elected by state legislatures, spread all that time and money around.
7:18 pm
it is a real issue of major concern. >> this is one of the most polarized. odds and terms of politics. that affects the senate heard what you see is the principal causes of that? >> that is the big question. that is the major question. certainly the fact is that the nation is polarized, and the senate is a reflection of the nation. the nation is heavily engaged in the middle east, huge deficits, major issues with the quality of education, the average american student getting, health care the number one issue on the list -- labor, all of these problems
7:19 pm
facing cop -- facing congress. they all received time. we got a bushel basket full right now, what all the blockers with all the blogger -- with all the bloggers fanning the flame. with the senator being deluged with attack ads, it starts with the public and then the senate can serve as an echo chamber for this. >> i just have one more question and then we will open it up to your question and answer period. i believe that our students are ready with cordless microphones. during polk the reagan and clinton administration, there was a lot of bipartisan work
7:20 pm
ticket a stack -- a tax cuts, president clinton would never have balance the budget without republican support. what will it take to get back to a period where republicans and democrats can work together on some fundamental things? >> i hope it is not a major national crisis the size of the 9/11 attacks. like the budget deficits, what are we going to do about that? if that does not provide the incentive for either getting things together in congress or for other people to decide i will run for congress, because i don't think the wave are senator is representing our state is very effective. that is a complicated process, and again as a historian, i will
7:21 pm
take the wreckage of the past. the future is uncertain and daunting at this point. >> very good. we will open it up to your questions, and we will go from side to side. let's start with a question for richard baker. we have one right man -- we have one right here. pleased to wait for the microphones. >> what is the history of the cloture rule? >> that is the $64,000 question. and i restrain myself from giving you an extended answer, because you could, for short. when was the first filibuster in the senate? i think the first filibuster took place about a week after they arrived in 1789, when one of the issues was, where is the permanent capital of the united
7:22 pm
states to be located. people favoring philadelphia or harrisburg had not arrived yet. so the partisans of harrisburg in the senate said that they would delay discussion until these guys' stagecoaches manage to bring them here. the very first rules of the senate did have a role that could cut off debate aired the senate never used that role, and eventually they just like it out. senators prided themselves on being different from the house of representatives. you only had up to 40 at one time, and everyone had a chance to speak and feel better about getting things off their chest. when it came to world war i and there was a major national emergency, and woodrow wilson wanted to arm merchant ships,
7:23 pm
and some senators blocked a vote on that, then the senate finally rallied itself -- and this point about public pressure -- a rally themselves to create the first cloture rule since 1917. the house had been closing off debate since 1811, but the senate in 1917 finally getting around to it. so they pass the rule and said that in order to cut off debate, if you have to have 67 senators voting to do that but then you can have every senator speaking for one an hour after that. and then it went from there. from 1917 until 1962, cloture was successfully invoked only four times. it was tried many times.
7:24 pm
southern senators tried to block civil rights legislation. people remember the day in 1964 when the senate invoke cloture on a civil rights act of 1964, with major health on the republican side. and then the story gets all little murky. mike mansfield, majority leader of the senate, said that we cannot be having these round- the-clock filibuster. the whole idea is for the opposition to talk and talk so that the majority cannot call for a vote. so he said -- as happened gradually and the 1960's and 1970's -- we have to do this on two tracks, so that people that want to talk can do that but
7:25 pm
they have to do it night. we have to get the business of the country going. they talked about the great society legislation coming through, but it was really only in the 1980's that we began to see a set of long debates on the floor, the use of cloture. if you do not have the votes to pass legislation, then pull it off before and we go on to the next item. now the big complaint is that there are more cloture votes than there have ever been. nothing is getting done. to finish this, should the rules of the senate be changed to make it easier to invoke cloture? shutting off long winded senators. some people say that should ultimately be by majority vote. i will sit here and predicted date that that will never
7:26 pm
happen. people love majority -- people in the majority do not have to have long memories to remember their uses of it to keep the then-majority under control. >> a question on this side? question over here. if you confine this gentleman? -- if you can find that this gentleman? >> a question on the role of the majority leader. could you talk about that and how it is such a difficult role, how has it never really of all to allow the majority leader to be more effective says the days of lyndon johnson? >> if you read robert caro's
7:27 pm
masterful book which focuses on the 1957 civil rights act, it feels like you are right on the floor. the field general calling in the troops and getting the votes scheduled just the right time. there was a big reaction to that among democratic senators in johnson's own party who did not like to have their arms twisted once a day, thank you very much. the republicans were not too happy about that. so when johnson became vice president in 1961, the senate selected mild-mannered mike mansfield to be majority leader. let everybody have their raw opportunity. robert byrd became majority leader and said, "i would like to have the strength of lyndon
7:28 pm
johnson and the understanding and engagement of mike mansfield." it was howard baker hughes said that leading the senate is like herding cats, and and trent lott came out with a book, "herding cats." it is a good metaphor because the cats may go in a direction for a limited period of time but that does not last long. one of the most difficult things is to have a large majority. throughout history, you get factions within that majority. it is much better to have a tight margin and then everyone has to pay attention and be serious. but it is a very difficult job, and my hat is off to the people who try to do it.
7:29 pm
>> questions? we have a couple on the side and then one or two right here. >> how has the role of the committee staff members changed over the years, and can they provide any leadership or are they just fall worse? -- follow worse? ? followers. >> it has a variety of answers. there is a lot of power in being a committee staff members. before, they were patronage appointees. the amount of money that they were responsible for deciding how to spend is enormous. the biggest committee has


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on