The prefatory chapter to our current gridlock
November 26, 2012 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Looking for an in-depth description of a very particular moment in Rick Santorum's career -

Just finished reading this excellent piece on partisan gridlock in the legislature from the NY Times, and I can't stop thinking about one salient quote in particular:

"Republicans and Democrats alike point to a moment in the 1990s when Rick Santorum, then a Republican senator from Pennsylvania and a former House warrior, refused to yield the floor to a colleague when asked, a refusal almost unheard of in the Senate."

Are there any longform accounts of this very specific moment in Senate history? I'd really love to read about this moment in proper context from a journalist - or better yet, someone who was there. This sounds like a really intriguing microcosm of so much of the gridlock that's occurred in recent years, but with a familiar-seeming character at the center of the event. My google/longform searches have failed me - do any mefites know of good descriptions of the event in question?

Major bonus points if any Mefites actually witnessed this for themselves and choose to comment on this thread!
posted by sidi hamet to Law & Government (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

More context:
“He would attack people in a smug way that was harder-edged and more insulting than was necessary, said Mark Salter, the former chief of staff to Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, adding that lawmakers in both parties shared this view. “He was a bully who was not a potent enough force to be a bully.”

From the start of a legislative career that included two terms in the House and two in the Senate, Mr. Santorum earned a reputation for throwing haymakers with no regard for custom, sacred cows or his own newcomer status.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:33 PM on November 26, 2012

Here is some text from the exchange on the Senate floor:

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Abraham). The Senator from Pennsylvania.

Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, I have heard some speeches on the floor
of the Senate and this ranks right up there. I do not know how you
say--when the leader here is negotiating, in good faith, to in fact add
more money into the child care fund--that somehow or another we are
denying the fact that we need child care, and have Members on the other
side who insist on having their name sketched next to the child care
money, to throw out an agreement to do just that. I think that is not
cooperation by any stretch of the imagination.
To also suggest that somehow we provide day care for workers here in
the U.S. Congress and that we are not willing to do so in the welfare
bill--maybe the Senator does not know it, but the people who have
children in day care pay for that with the hard-earned dollars that
they work for.

Mr. KENNEDY. Will the Senator yield?

Mr. SANTORUM. No, I will not yield. They work for it with their hard-
earned dollars. What you are suggesting is to give money to people to
go to work, to give them child care to go to work.

Mr. DODD. Will the Senator yield?

Mr. SANTORUM. No, I will not yield. The fact of the matter is that
what the Senator from Connecticut is doing is trying to block an
agreement from happening by insisting on an amendment on day care,
which we are willing to sit--and have been for hours--and try to put
I am hopeful that we can get through the partisanship on this and
move forward in a bipartisan way. And I know there are many Members on
the other side of the aisle that want to work in a bipartisan fashion
to get this bill through, to get day care money funded, because it is a
sincere interest, I know, of the leader and of other Members on our
side to get this legislation through with additional day care funds.

Mr. DODD. Will the Senator yield?

Mr. SANTORUM. We will and have been working. I object to the fact
that the Senator from Massachusetts stands up and says we are giving
free day care here in the Congress, and we are providing it for our
folks when, in fact, they pay for that day care, and that we are
unwilling to give it to people on welfare, when, in fact, we are going
to be giving day care to people on welfare.
I just think you are mixing who is paying for what. The fact of the
matter is, people working here paying for their day care are paying
taxes to subsidize the people that we want to provide day care for
under the welfare bill. Let us get it straight.
I am willing, as other Members on this side are, to put some more
money in for day care so that people can get off of welfare. But do not
try to suggest that somehow we are providing perks to Members here that
we are unwilling to give on welfare. Exactly the opposite is the truth.
I yield the floor.

Mr. DOLE addressed the Chair.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.
posted by 1367 at 4:05 PM on November 26, 2012

... and the C-SPAN video is also available (Santorum begins to speak at about 7 hours and 47 minutes into the session)
posted by 1367 at 4:14 PM on November 26, 2012

Perhaps another touchstone:
Not surprisingly, he was one of the lead senators urging federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo case. He told me that at one point he informed Bill Frist, the majority leader, that he would keep the Senate in session through its Easter break if lawmakers tried to adjourn without first stepping in.

''I said to the leader: 'We're not leaving here until we pass this,' '' he told me. I've got a hundred budget amendments that I'm willing to file, and we'll vote for days because I'll just keep filing. Let the folks know we'll be here for a long time.' ''
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:53 PM on November 26, 2012

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