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J. Robert Vastine
Staff Director, Senate Republican Conference

J. Robert Vastine served as staff director of the Senate Republican Conference from 1985 to 1991, a time when the conference underwent significant technological change, shifting its focus from newspapers to broadcast media to improve Republican senators’ ability to communicate with their home states. Under his direction, the first microwave satellite antenna was installed on the roof of a Senate Office Building, linking a studio in the building to television stations across the country. “It didn’t interest me at all for a second how a machine worked,” he explained in his oral history. “It was really just that machine lets you talk to a satellite, and thus to millions of constituents.” Vastine worked on the staffs of Missouri Representative Thomas B. Curtis, Illinois Senator Charles Percy, and in 1982 became legislative director for Rhode Island Senator John Chafee. These interviews recount the resistance encountered in transforming the services that the conference offered, and their eventual adoption by both parties.

Table of Contents:
1) Early Years With Tom Curtis
2) From the House to the Senate
3) The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Act
4) The View from the Executive Branch
5) The Gang of Six
6) The Senate Republican Conference
7) Antennas on the Roof
8) Senators and the Media
9) Leaving the Republican Conference
Image of J. Robert Vastine
Citation: Scholarly citation: "J. Robert Vastine, Staff Director, Senate Republican Conference, 1985-1991,” Oral History Interviews, Senate Historical Office, Washington, D.C.
Deed of Gift: I, J. Robert Vastine, do hereby give to the Senate Historical Office the tape recordings and transcripts of my interviews between August 27 and October 25, 1993. It is my desire that these transcripts remain sealed until January 3, 2001, and the tapes for an additional fifty years, unless otherwise opened by myself. After those dates, I authorize the Senate Historical Office to use the transcripts and tapes in such a manner as may best serve the educational and historical objectives of their oral history program. I also approve the deposit of the transcripts at the Library of Congress, National Archives, Senate Library, and any other institution which the Senate Historical Office may deem appropriate. In making this gift, I voluntarily convey ownership of the tapes and transcripts to the public domain. J. Robert Vastine, July 6, 1999. Accepted on behalf of the Senate Historical Office by: Richard A. Baker July 6, 1999.  

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