As part of its ongoing series of oral history interviews relating to the history of the U.S. Senate, the Senate Historical Office has posted transcripts of interviews with Roy L. Elson, G. William Hoagland, and J. Keith Kennedy on its web site. The transcripts are also deposited in the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the appropriate presidential libraries and senatorial manuscript collections.
Roy L. Elson served as administrative assistant to Senator Carl Hayden and ran as a candidate for the United States Senate from Arizona in 1964 and 1968. In 1952, when Hayden was 75, he hired 22-year-old Roy Elson for his Washington office staff. By age 27, Elson had become Hayden's administrative assistant. The aging senator found that the youthful staff member "thought his thoughts." Elson became the senator's surrogate in countless meetings involving the Central Arizona Project and other legislative issues. In 1962 he planned the senator's last campaign for reelection. As Hayden neared retirement, Elson himself ran as the Democratic candidate for the Senate from Arizona, in 1964 against Paul Fannin, and in 1968 against Barry Goldwater. He was one of the first Senate staff members to become a candidate. As Carl Hayden wrote in endorsement of Roy Elson's Senate candidacy, "Roy knows the Congress." In these interviews, conducted in 1990, he shared that knowledge and experience, recalled his personal career, reflected on the senators and staff with whom he served, and offered a candid view of the legislative and appropriations processes.
G. William Hoagland served as staff director of the Senate Budget Committee and advisor to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. For thirty years, Hoagland participated on the front lines of the annual battles over the federal budget. In 1975 he became one of the first staff members of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). In 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed him as administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service, and he also served as special assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture. Hoagland returned to Capitol Hill in 1982, serving first as a group leader and senior analyst and then alternately as staff director and minority staff director of the Senate Budget Committee for the next twenty years. Working with the committee’s chairman, New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici, he participated in the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings budget reform legislation, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, and the 1995 Balanced Budget Agreement. From 2003 to 2007 he held the position of policy advisor on budget and financial matters to the Majority Leader. The interviews were conducted in 2006 and 2007.
J. Keith Kennedy served three tours of duty as staff director/clerk of the Senate Appropriations Committee and also as the Senate’s Deputy Sergeant at Arms. He noted that the “appropriations process one way or another affects everything the government does.” The Senate Appropriations Committee handles all federal spending, an annual function that has made it one of the largest, most powerful and prestigious of Senate committees. The complex system of appropriating stimulated much controversy during the 1980s and 1990s, from massive federal deficits, to a temporary shut-down of the federal government, to an increasing tendency of legislators to “earmark” appropriations for specific projects. Kennedy’s oral history offers his unique perspective on this process and the sparring between the legislative and executive branches. The interviews were conducted between 2003 and 2008.
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