Paul  Weyrich

When I came to work in the United States Senate, 40 years ago this January, I quickly learned that there are two kinds of Senators-workhorses and show horses. I dare say few, if any, high school students could name all 100. Indeed most teachers would be impressed if their high-schoolers could name the two Senators from their own State.

I have watched over the years the Senators who never met a microphone they didn't try to get in front of. Then I have watched the Senators who work quietly on matters vital to the nation but who get very little coverage for doing so.

One of the workhorse Senators is James M. Inhofe (R-OK). His is hardly a household name outside his own state, where he wins by landslide margins. In the Senate he doggedly works on various pieces of non-sexy legislation. Often his work pertains to national defense. I have seen him go toe to toe with both the Clinton and Bush Administrations. And he won. I have seen him clash with the Congressional leadership of his own party. For example, he got the rules changed so that Congressmen who sign a discharge petition (to force a bill to the floor against the wishes of the leadership) must do so in broad daylight. The rules previously permitted them to hide behind procedure.

Having been trained by two workhorse Senators I appreciate them a lot more than those who will say anything to get on television. The reason I mention Jim Inhofe is because of the 100 Senators I would put him as the top workhorse Senator. He works on many projects at once. He pursues them until they are complete. Do not get me wrong, he is good on television. Since the advent of the Fox News Channel, he now has begun to get some exposure and he does well. Primarily, however, he does what he is now doing-that is, working on an infrastructure bill that has almost no national following. He is shepherding something called the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). He and I always tell our fellow conservatives that the two matters as to which the Federal Government is authorized to spend money are defense and infrastructure. Two summers ago Inhofe secured passage of the Transportation Bill, which took incredible skill on his part. Yes, it has a few questionable items but by and large that bill was an extraordinary piece of work. I praised him for it at the time and I do so again today, despite all the criticism. We both believe that spending outside of defense and infrastructure is stretching the Constitution to a point beyond recognition.


Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
 
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