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Hollings: That's why I think we got beat [in the Senate elections]. I disagreed with our leadership on filibustering everything. Damn it, give it to them! Give them the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It suits the hell out of me. I'm against it, but give all of that crap to them. And then the people will see all that crap and put us back in office. By the way, the Senate is way better than what it was 38 years ago. We had five drunks in the Senate. Now we're so busy, we ain't got no time for drunks.
Breaux: [Laughing] Let me suggest that if we drank more, we'd be better. On whether the institution has the capacity to address these huge issues out there--Social Security is one of them. It's highly emotional. Both parties are scared to death of touching it. Everybody wants us to fix it, but nobody wants us to do the things that are necessary in order to fix it. The fact is, if we don't do anything, it's headed over a cliff. Does Congress have the capacity to find a way to reach an agreement on a huge social issue for this country's future? Right now I think the answer is no.
Campbell: If you spend most of your time trying to get reelected and chasing the money, it's difficult to make the tough decision to do that.
Nickles: I don't quite agree. I shouldn't say this, but most incumbents can get re-elected without raising money, because of the advantages of incumbency. Every once in a while you'll have a contested seat.
Hollings: But as a Democrat in a Republican state, I have to travel the country [for money]. I've got good Republican friends who vote for me. But they don't want to give to me because their name appears in the paper, and then they go to the club on Saturday and it's "Why did you give to that damn Democrat?" So I get off my ass and travel to Oklahoma to get money.
TIME: Republicans are beginning to build a more substantial majority in the Senate. Could that actually lead to getting these major bills and compromises through?
Nickles: I think so.
Breaux: I thought that [when the Senate was evenly split] it forced compromise. Neither side by itself could get anything done unless it reached across the aisle to the other side. The House [whose rules give the Republican majority more power to ram through legislation] doesn't have to deal with Democrats. The congressional districts are either all-Democratic districts or all-Republican districts. If I'm in an all-Democratic district, I don't have to worry about what the Republicans think. Or if I'm in an all-Republican district, I don't have to worry about what the Democrats think. I never vote with them because my district is safe. If the Senate is 60-40, the 60 never has to worry about what the 40 is concerned about.
TIME: Recall the first day you walked into the Senate and the notion you had of what the job would be like. Did it turn out to be right or wrong?