United States Senate
United States Senate Senators HomeCommittees HomeLegislation & Records HomeArt & History HomeVisitor Center HomeReference Home
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,1-35
2) From the House to the Senate,36-63
3) The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Act,64-84
4) The View from the Executive Branch,85-109
5) The Gang of Six,110-133
6) The Senate Republican Conference,134-155
7) Antennas on the Roof,156-173
8) Senators and the Media,174-192
9) Leaving the Republican Conference,193-215
Full Transcript
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.

E-mail a Senate historian

Information provided by the Senate Historical Office.

Questions about Senate History?
Email a Senate historian.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

The Directory provides information about former and current senators.